No amount of money this time Barry, no amount!
Barack Obama has issued a plea for wealthy supporters to give him more money and stop his re-election campaign being outspent by Mitt Romney and the Republican’s billionaire backers.
In a phone call from Air Force One, the President reportedly told a group of top donors “I can’t do this by myself” and urged them to open their cheque books to “meet or exceed what you did in 2008”.
Noting that most had “maxed out to my campaign last time,” Mr Obama told them: “I really need you to do the same this time,” according to a leaked transcript.
Despite holding a narrow lead over his rival, the president informed the supporters that his ability to campaign and broadcast advertisements in key battleground states such as Florida and Ohio directly depended on their generosity.
Details of the call emerged days after Mr Obama warned supporters that he would be “the first president in modern history to be outspent” by his opponent unless donors upped their contributions.
Mr Romney and his party raised $76 million (£49 million) for their campaign in May, while Mr Obama – who had not been out-raised in five years – brought in $60 million (£38 million) with the Democrats.
Romney aides have boasted that their haul for June may exceed $100 million (£64 million), after being boosted by Right-wing anger over the Supreme Court’s approval of Mr Obama’s health care reforms.
While he remains ahead overall in the money race for the time being, loose talk of Mr Obama being the first candidate to raise $1 billion (£640 million) has been silenced by the Romney machine.
“In 2008 everything was new and exciting about our campaign,” Mr Obama said, according to a recording of the call obtained by The Daily Beast, a news website. “And now I’m the incumbent president. I’ve got grey hair. People have seen disappointment because folks had a vision of change happening immediately. And it turns out change is hard”.
Joe Trippi, a leading Democratic strategist, said Mr Obama’s network of donors had been slow to realise that they could lose, thanks to the circus-like quality of the Republican party primary contest.
“People have to perceive that they are threatened before they give,” Mr Trippi told The Daily Telegraph. “Until recently, most Democrats thought there was no way Romney could beat the President, so he didn’t need their money. That is changing quickly.” Several “Super PACs” – external campaign groups that can raise unlimited corporate cash for the first time in this election – are bolstering the Romney effort while failing to similarly assist Mr Obama.
Restore Our Future, the main group backing the Republican, has raised about $61.5 million (£39 million) – more than three times that raised by Priorities USA Action, which backs Mr Obama.
Sheldon Adelson, a casino tycoon who last month gave Restore Our Future $10 million (£6.4 million), has pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to kill Mr Obama’s “socialist agenda”, friends have said.
The president told donors on the conference call: “We’re going to have to deal with these Super PACs in a serious way,” adding unless he secured re-election, the “special interests” supporting Mr Romney would be running “Congress and the White House” from November.
Mr Obama received another warning yesterday as Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, indicated that he would throw his influence behind Mr Romney.
After a posting series of messages to his Twitter account criticising Mr Romney’s campaign, Mr Murdoch said: “Of course I want him to win, save us from socialism, etc”.
Mr Obama leads Mr Romney by 3.4 percentage points in national polls, according to an aggregate by RealClearPolitics. He also holds narrow leads in several potentially crucial swing states.