President Obama Seeks Support of Wall Street in Re-Election Bid
He called them “fat cats” and thieves. He stoked the anger of the American people towards them early on. But now, after the Wall Street vs. Main Street struggle that has all but characterized the economic climate of his presidency, President Obama needs the help of key Wall Street players in his bid to win re-election.
In anticipation of his re-election campaign, which he will launch in a few weeks, President Obama recently gathered two dozen Wall Street executives in the Blue Room of the White House.
He first asked them their ideas for faciliating the nation’s financial recovery. On the side of “Main Street,” Obama has had difficulty convincing his constituents that he has made progress with the already-ugly economy that he inherited. At the beginning of this month, the New York Times noted that “No American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2 percent.” The unemployment rate is currently 9.1 percent.
On the “Wall Street” end, the investor class is convinced that Obama’s policies have constricted their activities rather than bringing the financial market back to health. Having accomplished reasonable success in that area, the Obama administration must now win again the stalwart support of the financial sector, which donated $89 million to Obama’s campaign in 2008.
The path will not be easy: Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate with a background as a venture capital executive and policy proposals that are appealing to the financial class. In addition, Romney seems to be taking over some of the political territory that Obama once possessed with confidence. Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund manager who donated to President Obama in 2008, now prefers Romney for his middle-of-the-road, bipartisan solutions.
“He seemed like he was going to be a transformative candidate,” Mr. Scaramucci told the New York Times of Mr. Obama. “I’m really not an ideological guy, and I think the country right now needs more practical, less partisan people.”
In spite of such defections, other former bipartisan key figures have left politics entirely, like, Steven L. Rattner, who before he left government helped restructure the auto industry and then was caught up in investigations into kickbacks into New York State’s pension fund.
Fortunately, every time someone leaves the ranks, there is also a chance for renewal. A core group of Wall Street supporters have agreed to not only pledge their support but defend the president and stimulate donations. This group includes Robert Wolf, the chief executive of UBS Group Americas, the hedge fund managers Orin S. Kramer and Eric Mindich, and Mark T. Gallogly, a co-founder of Centerbridge Partners.
Though each party may be having some trouble embracing the other, the story highlights the unpleasant approaches necessary in politics. If President Obama can show the American people that he is still making quantifiable progress on their case, then he can easily stand out against the more polemical approaches of the Republican party’s cast of characters.
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