The Presidential Election Pattern Continues

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 17, 2012

Republicans do things that make it seem as though they are determined to lose the race. And then, Democrats respond in kind:

San Francisco philanthropist Susie Tompkins Buell, one of the Democratic Party’s most generous benefactors, is keeping her checkbook closed when President Obama holds high-priced California fundraisers this week.

“I want to look him in the eye and say, ‘Thank you so much’ ” for his work, said Buell, who expresses deep disappointment in the president’s leadership on environmental issues, especially climate change.

With Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign in full swing, “I would just love to write my big check … or have a high-dollar dinner here” on his behalf, she said. “I can’t.”

Buell, a co-founder of the Esprit clothing company, has donated millions of dollars to Democratic causes and presidential candidates, including Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore and her good friend, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the past 10 years, she has given $25 million to progressive political and charitable causes and has raised $10 million for candidates and committees, her office said.

But as Obama flies from Southern California to San Francisco today to vacuum up donations in the reliable Democratic ATM, Buell will attend neither of his $35,800-per-plate fundraisers in San Francisco, nor a fundraising rally at the Masonic Auditorium.

Buell is a loyal Democrat, but says she hasn’t yet opened her wallet for Obama’s campaign and probably won’t anytime soon.

“I’ve just given so much money away, and I’ve never asked for anything,” she said in an interview at her Pacific Heights home this week. Now, “I’m asking for something: He’s got to be a leader.”

Buell and her husband, Mark Buell, have long devoted energy and money to environmental causes such as the Go Green Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit designed to get young people involved in environmental causes. She said she is “very concerned that President Obama has not talked enough about this issue.”

“I thought that he really did understand ‘the urgency of now’ on climate change,” she said. “He has not been vocal enough … and I want to encourage him to lead me.”

Buell’s glaring absence from Obama’s fundraising events this week underscores the challenges the president has with his progressive base.

There may be a lot of discontent in conservative circles regarding Mitt Romney. But the discontent in liberal circles concerning Barack Obama is just as prevalent. Maybe even more so. If Republicans could just unite, and if Romney could just run a more deft campaign, this election would be the GOP’s for the taking. But I increasingly wonder whether the Romney campaign has it in them to create the conditions necessary to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Certainly, as they stand, the polls are currently against Romney in a one-on-one matchup against the president, and Intrade believes that the president has a nearly 60% chance of getting re-elected. If the Romney campaign is going to make its move to put Team Obama on the defensive, and to make this election about the president and his performance in office, they had better act quickly. Their window of opportunity may well be closing.

  • nick caruso

    The Pepsi party’s heart isn’t in it because they’re worried about holding office when the train wrecks.  That’s why the candidates who *could* win aren’t running.   The Coke party, already holding the office, believes it can cement its agenda regardless of whether the train actually does wreck.    Looks to me like we’ll get the chance to find out.

  • Stephen

    That explains the behavior or the GOP’s supposed “A-team”, Nick, but it doesn’t explain the inability of the current crop of presidential candidates to drive the narrative. It’s not as if they lack material. The current focus seems to be Santorum’s views on contraception. Today Santorum did nice job responding to Charlie Rose on this by playing the Rev. Wright card in response. A nice start, by why didn’t he follow-up by challenging Rose to do his job and check out the evasions and outright lies being told by Geithner and Zientz: after the economy implodes, under their ”leadership”, a ban on contraception will be implicit when most people won’t be able to afford it.  In otherwords, with a smile on your face, give the back of your hand to the questioner and turn the topic into an attack on adminstration policy. That’s a skill older politicians practiced as easily as breathing, but seems to be a lost art among the current generation.  Too few have had any serious appreticeship in hard-ball politics.

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