US President Barack Obama, juggling dual roles as fundraiser extraordinaire and commander-in-chief, piled up a cool US$5 million in a lucrative single-day campaign blitz.
In no other country is a leader expected to tend to a deteriorating war he is leading in Afghanistan on the same day as conducting the business of stuffing millions into his war chest to bankroll his own political career.
Such is the cost of running for president in America, where campaign teams play on a vast and complex political map, building expensive grass roots get-out-the-vote networks and multimillion-dollar advertizing blasts.
Obama started on Friday in Washington, in the early hours, trying to talk Afghan President Hamid Karzai down after a fresh broadside at the US’ war strategy, as he fumes after a US soldier launched a rampage killing 16 civilians.
Later, Obama was aboard as Air Force One nosed into the murky skies over Washington, heading to a five-event, two-city, 2,500km odyssey of events in a vast hotel ballroom, huge film studio and intimate living room setting.
Going home — to Chicago — for four hours, Obama amassed US$2.1 million, first giving a pep talk to 600 loyal supporters in a ballroom under glistening chandeliers, who paid least US$2,500 a head.
Obama’s mission: Inspire the hoards who gathered at his 2008 victory rally in nearby a nearby park to sign up to fight one more battle.
“As much as 2008 was exciting and as much as all of us, I think, saw that night in Grant Park as the culmination of something — it was actually just the beginning of what we are fighting for,” Obama said.
“That is what 2012 is about. I know it’s been a tough few years, I know that when you see what’s going in Washington sometimes it is tempting to believe that what we believed in in 2008 was an illusion,” he said. “It is easy to slip back into cynicism. Remember what we said in the last campaign. Real change would be hard.”
Then, Obama retreated to more exclusive company — a roundtable for 60 well-heeled supporters who were each paying at least US$10,000 for some face time with the local boy made good.
Obama has already raised more than US$140 million for his re-election bid and experts believe he is well on the way to trumping the more than US$700 million he piled up in his 2008 run for the White House.
He will likely fall short though of the staggering US$1 billion figure some campaign watchers fully expected him to haul in.
Money may be even more important to Obama this year than in 2008.
Thanks to a much debated Supreme Court decision individual rich donors and corporations are now free to throw unlimited millions of dollars into so-called Super PAC committees to support a candidate and savage his opponents.
Republicans, who believe Obama’s presidency is a bust, with unemployment at 8.3 percent and gasoline prices on the rise, see the unshackled system as a way to compete with Obama’s fundraising prowess.
Though Obama’s events have being taking on a more partisan tone, the White House insists that the president is not campaigning.