Guess who got the most private-equity money in 2008?
posted at 3:21 pm on May 22, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
You get three guesses … and the first two don’t count. An analysis by The Hill of data from Open Secrets shows that Barack Obama got more than $3.5 million from donors who work in private-equity or hedge-fund firms in 2008, almost twice as much as John McCain raised in the same industry:
President Obama raised far more cash from hedge fund and private equity donors than any other candidate in the 2008 election cycle.
According to an analysis by the nonprofit group Open Secrets, Obama took in nearly $3.5 million from large private-equity donors that year — nearly twice what his general-election rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), pocketed.
This makes the hypocrisy pointed out by Anderson Cooper on CNN last night with Ben LaBolt just a little more obvious. Jonathan Easley writes that this information makes it more difficult for Obama to execute an attack on Bain Capital for doing precisely what Obama’s own donors do, both 2008 donors and 2012 donors like Blackstone’s Tony James. The attack on private equity might end up driving James’ colleagues into the arms of Mitt Romney:
The danger for Obama is that he’ll turn off the backers who helped his campaign in 2008. It’s a risky strategy, especially in an election year in which Obama will have to compete not only with the Romney campaign but with GOP super-PACs expected to play an outsize role in political attack ads this fall.
The problem goes beyond donors. Mark Warner found himself in a tough spot on MSNBC this morning, and his history as a venture capitalist puts him squarely in the Obama campaign’s crosshairs. Chuck Todd asked him about Bain Capital, and Warner ended up rebutting Team Obama’s spin:
MSNBC host Chuck Todd asked Warner whether he was “comfortable” with Obama’s “attacks on Bain Capital? Do you think it’s an attack on private equity?”
Warner said he was “proud” of his work in venture capital, adding: “One of the things I found as I made the transition to public service, there is a different skill set. Oftentimes if you’ve got investors, you’re looking for short-term profits. If you’re in public service, if you’re investing in pre-school, if you’re investing in infrastructure, you’ve got a much different time horizon. There is a different skill set, and I think it’s a valid topic of debate.”
Asked whether Bain “practiced good or bad ethics,” Warner said, “I think Bain Capital was a very successful business. I think they got a good return for their investors. That is what they were supposed to do.” Republicans quickly seized on the comment, blasting it out to their press list.
Warner tried to split the baby a bit by noting that public-service priorities are different — but if that’s the case, why doesn’t the Obama campaign focus on Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts instead of Bain Capital? Why demonize Bain when they’re taking money from its executives, and as a number of Democrats come to Bain’s defense? It’s sheer demagoguery, so much so that other Democrats can’t bring themselves to regurgitate it — and the media is taking notice.
Update: Don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that Warner waa running for the Senate; he’s already there, of course. Tim Kaine is running this year. My apologies for the error.