- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2011

PHILADELPHIA — President Obama wrapped up a month of brisk fundraising with two more events here Thursday amid an emerging rift with Jewish donors and accusations that he is exploiting the White House in his hunt for campaign cash.

In a not-quite-full hotel ballroom, Mr. Obama poked fun at Republican presidential candidates “parading around the country” while he works at his “day job.”

“They won’t have a plan, but they’ll attack,” the president told several hundred supporters. “The American people want us to exchange ideas about the future. I know that’s the contest America needs and, by the way, that’s the contest we will win.”

Outside the hotel, hundreds of demonstrators, including many tea party activists, greeted the president. Signs included “Someone else for President 2012” and “Learn from Greece.”

“He should cut the spending and respect members of Congress,” said Diana Reimer of Lansdale, Pa., co-founder of the Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots.

Mr. Obama’s June cash scramble concluded with a $71,600-per-couple dinner Thursday night at the Philadelphia home of Comcast Corp. executive David L. Cohen, a powerhouse fundraiser and longtime associate of former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

It was the president’s 11th fundraiser since June 13 as his campaign aims to top second-quarter goals of $60 million and 450,000 individual donors.

The president told guests that the deficit-reduction talks with Republicans hinge on two things: reducing the costs of Medicare and Medicaid and raising revenue.

“The truth is, you could figure out on the back of an envelope how to get this thing done,” Mr. Obama said. “The question is one of political will.”

As the fundraising deadline approached, Democrats tried to quell concerns among Jewish supporters about Mr. Obama’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, particularly his May 20 speech calling for borders based on the cease-fire line that existed before the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the proposed borders “indefensible” and suggested that the plan would weaken his country’s security.

Some of the president’s Jewish supporters say the development has caused them to withdraw their backing. Lawyer Joseph Wolfson, a Democrat from Philadelphia, said his misgivings about Mr. Obama have him considering voting Republican.

“Others do share my concerns,” Mr. Wolfson said of the Jewish community. “I also believe it will affect [the president’s] fundraising.”

Said Mr. Rendell, “It’s not unfair to say the large-donor base has questions. There’s a benefit that comes from the president sitting down and talking directly to donors, for example, on the administration’s policy on Israel.”
A former Democratic National Committee chairman, Mr. Rendell described his home state as “absolutely up for grabs” in 2012. Mr. Obama won Pennsylvania by 11 percentage points in 2008.

“That’s not going to happen again,” Mr. Rendell said. “It’s going to be a tough fight.”

He added that he could envision the eventual Republican nominee fashioning “a road map to victory” in Pennsylvania if the candidate’s message is focused on jobs and is socially moderate.

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