Some Obama donors see need to pick up fundraising pace

For some Obama supporters, the presidential campaign’s fundraising totals, released Monday, might have left something to be desired.

While Team Obama surpassed its $29 million fundraising haul in January, racking up more than $45 million in February, the campaign is lagging behind its February 2008 totals. Obama has also fallen behind George W. Bush’s fundraising pace in the 2004 election cycle, raising some worries from donors.

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“The fact is, I think we’re going to pull this off in the end, but I think we’re going to need to pick up the pace,” said one Obama donor. “We’re going to need to do a whole lot better to compete with what promises to be a tight election. But I think we will. ”

Observers say Obama is facing two sobering realities: liberal donors who think he hasn’t followed through on some of his promises, and Wall Street executives who are miffed at the regulations put in place by his administration.

“That’s the one-two punch he’s facing,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “But that’s part of the Romney argument — that he can capitalize [on this sentiment] and draw some of the bigger donors.”

Obama campaign officials and some high-profile Obama financiers expressed confidence Monday that they are where they need to be, highlighting that most of last month's contributions came from small donors who gave the campaign $250 or less. Campaign officials say 105,000 donors gave for the first time.

Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said the funds being raised by the campaign will be used to build the “general-election infrastructure.”

All of the funds raised by Republicans are being spent “on the air to carpet-bomb each other,” LaBolt said.

One prominent Obama donor said that the campaign is “well on track” to match the amount it raised in 2008. The donor said the campaign already has close to $300 million and predicted the campaign will definitely match that amount from the time period between the Democratic National Convention this summer and November. And over the next couple of months, as the president approaches reelection, fundraising will pick up.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” the donor said. “It is a different campaign than the one we had in 2008, but we have a much more expansive base than we did back then.”

At the same time, Republicans — who have been embroiled in a battle of their own — seized on Obama’s fundraising haul, sensing some weakness.

“After three years of policies that have left our country with record debt, high unemployment and soaring gas prices and healthcare costs, it’s clear President Obama is having a hard time convincing voters he deserves another term,” said Kirsten Kukowski. “The president who ran on change and hope has left our country wanting, and whether it’s showing in fundraising or in the polls, Americans are enthusiastic about replacing him in November.”

Obama is set to participate in another fundraiser in Washington on Monday night. The event follows a string of fundraising events Obama attended on Friday in Chicago and Atlanta.