As organizers prepare for President Obama's massive fundraiser and birthday bash in Chicago, Republicans and Democrats continue to argue over raising the country's debt ceiling to avoid default. If an agreement is not reached soon, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the man of honor won't be attending his own party.
"The president is doing the job the American people elected him to do and that is what will always come first," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times, who first reported the fundraiser cancellations. "Our job is to build the campaign while the president governs."
The party is scheduled for August 3 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. The evening was set to include a private dinner with Obama for those contributing $10,000 to $38,500, and a "birthday concert" for $50 to $10,000. Performances by actress/singer Jennifer Hudson, jazz great Herbie Hancock and rock band OK Go are expected.
All presidents running for re-election are forced to juggle governing with campaigning. But as the debt talks have dragged on for weeks, Obama has limited his travel and remained in Washington trying to strike a balance between his day job and increasing attention on his re-election campaign. His campaign and the DNC raised $86 million during the spring fundraising quarter and a field of Republican presidential candidates has been hard at work in early primary states, vying to challenge Obama next year.
"It comes with the territory to some degree. In this instance, certainly this has become so consuming," said Democratic strategist Karen Finney. "If you believe we may be close to a deal, obviously the president wants to remain here in town and be ready to do whatever needs to be done."
While his campaign has not canceled the plans outright, they have already scrapped fundraisers in California and Washington state, and another event at the New York home of film mogul Harvey Weinstein, Sweet reported.
On Monday, Obama will skip two Washington fundraisers that had been on his schedule. One of the events was canceled and Vice President Joe Biden will attend the other.
Most of the canceled fundraisers are expected to be rescheduled. Weinstein's event is expected to be held in August while the postponed events on the West Coast have not yet been rescheduled. Biden canceled events in Atlanta, Nashville and Dallas in recent weeks but is expected to attend fundraisers in those cities this fall.
Others are pitching in. First lady Michelle Obama will attend fundraisers in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Aspen, Colo., on Tuesday, while a team of campaign surrogates, including strategist David Axelrod and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, are expected to attend events in several U.S. cities meant to coincide with Obama's birthday.