Photo: Courtesy of wytv
As President Barack Obama rolls across Ohio and Pennsylvania on his two-day swing state bus tour, his campaign is struggling to spin today’s disappointing jobs numbers, as well as reports that Mitt Romney raised more than $100 million in June, a staggering number that will likely trounce Obama’s take for the second month in a row.The GOP’s fundraising totals confirm Democrats’ fears that they are quickly losing the money race, shoring up the liberal narrative that Obama is facing an uphill battle to compete with deep-pocketed conservative special interests and “dark money” donations.
The reality, of course, is a little more complicated.
To find out more about where Obama stands with his potential donors, Business Insider spoke with fireworks magnate Bruce Zoldan, a prominent political fundraiser from Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, where Obama campaigned Friday morning.
A major Clinton backer who has raised money for candidates from both parties, Zoldan was an early supporter of Obama in 2008, and even hosted the candidate for a fundraiser at his home in Canfield, Ohio — but he was noncommittal about whether he would be supporting the Democratic nominee this time around. He told Business Insider that he has been turned off by the Obama campaign’s rhetoric on class war and income inequality, which he sees as unnecessarily divisive and antagonistic toward business owners.
“They talk too much about taxing the rich,” said Zoldan, founder and CEO of the multimillion-dollar Phantom Fireworks empire. “Tax is not an issue with me — I pay my taxes and I’m happy to do it. But they are too focused on the idea that it is the rich people who are keeping down the poor.”
“I’m not opposed to Democrats on this issue,” he added. “What bothers me is to hear that he is making employees — my team members — feel that I am somehow being unfair to them, like I am the bad guy.”
The attacks against Mitt Romney’s wealth and record at Bain Capital fit into the message that “anybody in business who is successful has done something unfair to make them successful,” he said. “I’m looking for more common ground.”
Zoldan also said that he was surprised by the Obama campaign’s lack of outreach to business leaders in Ohio. He said was invited to attend Friday morning’s event in Poland, Ohio, but was told it was unlikely he would get any one-on-one time with the President.
“That doesn’t happen with this administration — I don’t think he has reached out to the community in the way that he should,” Zoldan said, adding that “it wasn’t like this under Clinton.”
“It wasn’t this divisive, and I’m not sure that he [Obama] helps himself,” Zoldan said. “The business community wasn’t pro-Clinton, but it was never this hateful.”
Obviously, Zoldan’s comments represent just one perspective on the 2012 money race. But his view does highlight the underlying Catch-22 of Obama’s central campaign message: While the attacks against Romney’s money and business record may work with rank-and-file voters, they may also make it harder for the President to convince potential donors that they wouldn’t be acting against their own economic interests by contributing to his campaign.
Conversely, the more Obama is perceived as anti-business, the easier it may be for Romney to convince on-the-fence donors to come over to his side, or at least hold on to their money for this election.
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