Following a day marked by huge losses on Wall Street and uncertainty in global markets, President Obama defended his administration's priorities on Monday night, telling supporters that spurring long-term economic recovery "is not rocket science ... and doesn’t require us to decimate the things that we know are going to help us grow and become competitive.” He made the point at two separate events in Washington aimed at donors to his re-election campaign.
The first of the two events was held at the palatial Northwest D.C. home of Don Peebles, a real estate developer and native Washingtonian. Before a group of approximately 140 guests, Obama said the ongoing debt-ceiling crisis will be a core issue in his 2012 campaign, and it represents "as fundamental a debate as 2008."
“I’m not going to be able to mobilize the country around some of the tough, necessary choices that need to be made unless we’ve got the kind of grassroots support at every level that you guys so vividly displayed” in 2008, he told the crowd, who paid $15,000 per family. Proceeds benefited the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account shared by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. In this case, $5,000 of each ticket went to the president's re-election campaign, and $10,000 went to the DNC.
Following the Peebles' party, Obama traveled a few blocks downtown to the St. Regis Hotel, for what was billed as an "outreach" event -- not a fundraiser per se -- with a small group of 60 guests.
Obama echoed the themes from the earlier event, but placed much of the blame for the nation's current financial woes squarely on Capitol Hill. “Obviously we’ve had a tough couple of weeks in the economy ... [but] too much of it was self-inflicted. It had to do with political paralysis here in Washington. And that’s not a surprise to a lot of folks, but I think for the American people, they recognize that we don’t have time for some of the squabbling that’s been taking place, because there are too many folks who are still out of work ... and the kind of brinksmanship that we saw on the debt ceiling made absolutely no sense in terms of where we need to take the country.”
The president downplayed the volatile markets that dominated much of the day's news cycle, choosing instead to focus on long-term economic issues. "Markets will go up and down, but the underlying challenges have held steady for too long," he said. Among them, the nation's educational system, which is “failing too many of our kids,” along with skyrocketing health care costs and the need for tax code reforms. Unlike typical small-donor events, Obama's remarks at both gatherings were covered by the press.
Last week, Obama attended three "birthday-themed"fundraisers in Chicago on Wednesday, which netted a total of more than $3 million for the Democratic party.