Presidential contest shifts focus to raising money

By Steve Peoples

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Sept. 28 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

The president's fundraising trips often combine big money with the mansions and chic brownstones of the nation's elite. Red-carpet stars like George Clooney, Spike Lee, Sarah Jessica Parker and Tyler Perry have all had Obama over for big-dollar dinners. At one fundraiser in Seattle's suburbs last spring, Microsoft founder Bill Gates stood beside a grand piano as Obama spoke at the home of Jeff Brotman, the co-founder of Costco.

And Obama's campaign could have easily staged its own version of the music world's Lollapalooza during his re-election bid: Fundraisers have been headlined by such acts as the Foo Fighters, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. The campaign is planning a "30 Days to Victory" concert on Oct. 7 in Los Angeles featuring Jon Bon Jovi, Earth Wind & Fire, Jennifer Hudson, Katy Perry and Stevie Wonder.

The event will try to eclipse a recent fundraiser with Jay-Z and Beyonce that raised about $4 million in New York.

On Friday, the president was to deliver remarks at a finance event at the Capital Hilton in Washington, with tickets starting at $250 and going as high as $10,000 per couple. He then was attending a smaller fundraiser at a private residence before returning to the hotel for a third event.

Obama also met with advisers Friday at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington to prepare for the debates before heading Sunday to Nevada to hold practice sessions. His campaign released a political memo on Friday saying it expects Romney "to be a prepared, disciplined and aggressive debater."

Romney, too, planned to spend much of his weekend in debate preparation, a task he began three months ago.

But he spent more time fundraising on Friday than anything else. And like Obama, Romney faces fundraising-related risks.

As polls suggest his campaign is moving in the wrong direction, Romney is facing calls from within his party to spend less time with donors and more time with voters. Less than a week ago, he promised to do just that and spent three days this week campaigning across Ohio and Virginia. But he was back to fundraising Thursday night at a single Washington event that generated $5 million.

There, Romney was introduced by Bill Marriott, the chairman of Marriott International.

"He rescued me just as he's going to rescue this great country," Marriott proclaimed after sharing a story about boating on the same New Hampshire lake where both men own vacation homes.

The campaign would not say how much Romney raised at the Philadelphia event, but he was expected to generate at least $7 million at two Boston fundraisers Friday evening. The two-day total was expected to exceed $13 million.

Ken Thomas reported from Washington. AP writer Jack Gillum contributed to this report.

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