In 2008, Barack Obama was the candidate of choice for Wall Street, even from the earliest days of the campaign. This time around, cash from wealthy donors in the financial-services industry isn’t going to be flowing his way quite as easily — consider the anti-finance, base-courting rhetoric Obama has adopted from time to time; the post-bailout investigations and curtailing of banks’ activities that’s taken place under this Democratic administration; not to mention the plain old rotten economy, which bugs Wall Street just as much as Main Street. So President Obama has begun a push to recapture some of that crucial Wall Street support, reports the New York Times. The problem is that Mitt Romney looks like a very attractive option to many of those same people Obama hopes to court.
In the last week alone, the paper details, Romney has held three fund-raisers in New York and Greenwich, Connecticut, including one hosted by hedge funder (and ex-Obama donor) Anthony Scaramucci, who has said to Obama, essentially, It’s not me, it’s you: “Mr. Scaramucci said he wanted a president who embodied pragmatism and middle-of-the-road solutions. In 2008, that candidate was Mr. Obama, he said; today, it is Mr. Romney.” Meanwhile, Steve Rattner, who played the crucial Wall Street macher role for Obama in ‘08, is off the scene, post scandal-ridden resignation as auto czar.
Obama has invited top Wall Street execs to hang out at his house (“Guests were asked for their thoughts on how to speed the economic recovery, then the president opened the floor for over an hour on hot issues like hedge fund regulation and the deficit”) and called up invitees who couldn’t make it (to tell them about all the fun they’d missed). He has dispatched his campaign manager, Jim Messina, to the city to try to win over Hillary Clinton donors. His team is also trying to recruit “high-level bundlers,” or guys who convince their powerful friends to donate. Targeted names include Antonio Weiss of Lazard, Charles Myers of Evercore Partners, and James E. Staley of JPMorgan Chase, reports the Times.
Obama has also scheduled a dinner with top finance players for later this month. His last high-profile meal in the city was a fund-raiser at emerging Harlem restaurant Red Rooster earlier this year; but there won’t be any uptown wanderings this time around. Perhaps 2008 Obama could convince bankers to explore new culinary horizons; 2011 Obama is meeting Wall Street at Daniel, making it crystal clear whose preferences are being catered to.