The Washington Times - August 11, 2011, 02:11PM

White House press secretary Jay Carney defended President Obama’s decision to headline a glitzy Manhattan fundraiser Thursday night, arguing that other politicians are doing the same thing and voters understand that’s how the system works.

After visiting an advanced battery plant in western Michigan Thursday afternoon, the president heads to the Big Apple, where he’ll attend fundraisers at the Ritz-Carlton and later a private residence.

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The events will bring the number of fundraisers he’s held this week to four.

Mr. Carney, speaking to reporters on board Air Force One en route to Holland, Mich., pushed back against suggestions the optics of the fundraisers were unfortunate given the growing anxiety surrounding the economy in the wake of Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S. credit and the stock market freefall.

“Americans understand that our political system functions the way it does and that candidates have to raise money,” he said. “I certainly expect that members of Congress are doing the same thing as well as presidential candidates.”

Asked about the much-anticipated Republican presidential debate Thursday night in Iowa, Mr. Carney said he had not spoken with Mr. Obama about the event but weighed in with his own opinion.

“What I am curious about is whether anybody participating in the debate tonight will have any concrete proposals for growing the economy and creating jobs that aren’t retread ideas that didn’t work in the past,” he said.