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Obama at Atlanta fundraiser (AP/Photo by David Goldman)

Fund-gifting

Politics | The Obama campaign employs an odd tactic to raise money in an economic downturn

For the many American couples planning a wedding in a tumultuous economy and a feeble job market, President Barack Obama has an odd suggestion: Forgo the wedding shower that stocks your house with essentials and ask your friends to make a donation to the Obama reelection campaign instead.

That's the message from the Obama Event Registry at barackobama.com, which asks supporters to consider diverting gifts for weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and anniversaries to the Obama campaign-a gift that "goes a lot further than a gravy bowl."

Click to register (i.e., email your friends with donation requests), and you'll see a message encouraging your friends to donate to Obama instead of giving you "another gift card you'll forget to use."

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Some might find that sentiment odd. Scores of Americans guarding their spending habits-or perhaps struggling to get by-probably wouldn't forget to use a gift card to buy pots and pans at Bed Bath & Beyond or home improvement supplies at Lowe's. (And while it's true that many couples register for non-essential items, others would face an uphill climb starting their lives together without gifts from friends.)

In other election years, this might seem like an overblown analysis of a weak fundraising tactic, but Obama is building his campaign on the notion that Republican candidate Mitt Romney is out-of-touch with average Americans struggling in an economic crisis.

During a campaign appearance in Chapel Hill, N.C., in March, Obama reminded the audience of college students that he and his wife knew what it was like to re-pay student loans, while Romney only read about it in policy briefs.

ObamaEventRegistry0626That makes the Obama donation registry all the more odd. In this case, the president-or at least his campaign staff-appears out of touch with Americans who need all the help they can get.

The tactic also smacks of something that wasn't typical during Obama's last campaign: a hint of desperation. Obama vastly outraised his opponents during the 2008 election-partly with constant email blasts asking for $3 or more by midnight. But that wasn't desperation-it was persistence that paid off.

Now that Romney outraised Obama during the month of May, the president's campaign is struggling to find its fundraising message. (Romney raised $76 million to Obama's $60 million last month.)

An email sent Tuesday from the Obama campaign carried the underdog subject line: "I will be outspent," lamenting the fact that Romney raises most of his money from donors who give $1,000 or more while Obama raises most of his money from donors giving $1,000 or less. The email included a plea to give $3 or more by the end of this week. It didn't mention a plea to forgo housewarming gifts because you don't really need them.

Meanwhile, Obama reminded donors in the email that while Romney spent last weekend huddling with his top-dollar donors, "I've got other responsibilities I'm attending to." He didn't mention those responsibilities included a fundraiser in Boston on the same day that collected a reported $3.1 million. The president is in Atlanta and Miami on Tuesday for fundraisers expected to bring in more than $2 million.

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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