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May 012013

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Richard M. Wolff(NEW YORK) — It’s not the Air Force holding a bake sale to buy a bomber, but the United Services Organization is holding a fundraiser to keep Fleet Week afloat after it was torpedoed by sequester cuts.

The USO sent out its fundraising pitch email this week.

In light of across-the-board spending cuts mandated in the sequester, the Defense Department has said the Armed Forces cannot spend money on outreach opportunities like Fleet Week, the time each May when members of the Marines, Navy and the Coast Guard come ashore in coastal cities to celebrate with civilians and give shows to the public. The event was originally scheduled for the week of Memorial Day.

“Will we allow this opportunity to demonstrate America’s support of our men and women in uniform pass us by?” retired Col. Jack Jacobs asked readers in the email for the USO. “Not on our watch!”

The email pledges that the organization will “keep the spirit of Fleet Week alive” and “make our military appreciation and Memorial Day events better than ever before.”

“Although the sequester has created a large gap to close, with YOUR help – we can do it!” Jacobs wrote.

USO of Metropolitan New York hopes to raise $75,000 in donations to host events between Armed Forces Day and the week of Memorial Day.

Supporting the troops and military families is a year-round endeavor that involves hundreds of events annually, according to Gayle Fishel, director of media relations for the USO.

“While we do not know what events are tied to sequestration, it is clear that today’s environment makes the services and programs that the USO provides even more important,” Fishel told ABC News in an email Wednesday. “Fleet Week in New York City is one of the many ways, and an important way, we support the troops and families and continue to be always by their side.”

The Navy and Air Force both cancelled all shows for their flight demonstration teams, the Blue Angels and the Thunder Birds, for the rest of the fiscal year, citing sequestration as the cause for the cuts.

Fort Bragg, a major American Army base in North Carolina, was forced to cancel its Independence Day celebration because of the cuts as well.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jan 032013

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(TRENTON, N.J.) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who blasted members of his own party Wednesday for abandoning a $60 billion relief bill for superstorm Sandy victims, had a fruitful fundraising period, raising more than $2.1 million since he announced his re-election effort Nov. 26.

The campaign pulled in the cash in 36 days and without a single fundraising event. Mike Duhaime, the spokesman for the campaign, wouldn’t comment on specific breakdowns of the haul, but said it was “a lot of different people, both small donors and large all over the country,” including “all 21 counties in New Jersey.”

“The vast, vast majority came from within New Jersey, but there were [donors] from around the country,” Duhaime said. “We feel great about it, but it was pretty much organic. Some came from the Web, some from word of mouth.”

Duhaime added that the campaign sent out a small amount of direct mail to donors who gave to Christie during his 2009 campaign. It’s notable that the funds came in during the holiday season and when the state is still reeling from Sandy, which slammed into New Jersey Oct. 29.

The specific breakdown of the funds will be revealed when the next Federal Election Commission reports are filed Jan. 15.

By way of comparison, Christie’s entire 2009 campaign spent $12 million, although it’s important to note that he now enjoys the power of incumbency and a political machine in place since 2009.

This campaign has not only had no fundraisers but has only had one specific campaign event. Christie received the endorsement of the Laborers International Union of North America last month. The 20,000-member group backed Democrat Jon Corzine in the 2009 campaign.

Unlike other states, New Jersey does not keep an open account for the governor’s campaign, Duhaime says, so as soon as Christie officially “filled out the paperwork and announced ‘I’m going to run,’ dozens of people wanted to help.”

As for Christie’s bashing Wednesday of House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans for pulling a vote on Sandy funding at the last minute, Duhaime says money is “coming in every day at this point,” but there’s no breakdown since the governor described the House’s adjourning without voting on the relief package as “disappointing and disgusting.”

Christie, 50, who is considered a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said there was “only one group to blame, the Republican Party and Speaker Boehner.”

Spokesman Duhaime said, “Good governing is good politics and yesterday you saw a display of what a great governor is. If that makes more people want him to stay governor that is a very good thing, but that’s just him doing his job.”

During the 2008 campaign, Christie was a fundraising machine for both GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, traveling across the country to try to haul in cash for their effort. It’s something another Northeastern Republican, Rep. Peter King of New York, mentioned Wednesday in his own disgust about the lack of a vote on the bill.

“I’m just saying, these people have no problem finding New York – these Republicans – when they’re trying to raise money,” King said on CNN.  “They raise millions of dollars in New York City and New Jersey, they send Gov. Christie around the country raising millions of dollars for them.

“I’m saying, anyone from New York and New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined. I would not give one penny to these people based on what they did to us last night.”

Only one Democrat has announced a challenge to Christie: State Sen. Barbara Buono, who has been in state government for 20 years. There had been speculation that Newark Mayor Cory Booker would jump into the race, but he announced a run for U.S. Senate instead.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Nov 302012

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Remember all those Obama campaign emails and their, shall we say, unusual subject lines?

“Hey,” wrote President Obama in at least five messages during the campaign.

“Hell yeah,” topped one note from strategist David Axelrod.

Beyonce Knowles teased in an inbox message, “I don’t usually email.”

And women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke provocatively reached out on “Legitimate rape.”

New data released by the campaign show that these and other catchy and casual phrases were hugely successful at getting Obama supporters to open the emails and click through to donate.

Most of the $690 million “Obama for America” raised through online fundraising came from direct email appeals, according to data provided by the president’s campaign exclusively to Bloomberg Businessweek and confirmed by ABC News.

The more casual and profane the tone, the campaign said, the more lucrative the blast.

Obama’s “Hey” subject-lined messages were the most effective pitches of all, though the campaign did not provide a specific dollar amount.

One Obama email blast from June 26 with the subject line, “I will be outspent,” raked in $2.5 million, the data provided to Bloomberg showed.  Other iterations of the same message sent under different subject headings — e.g. “Thankful every day,” or, “Michelle time” — were notably less successful, raking in $545,486 and $604,813, respectively.

The campaign relied on a staff of 20 full-time email writers who constantly drafted and experimented with different versions of appeals, officials said, sending them to small lists first to see what was most effective before mailing to a larger listserv of millions of names.

An October report by Return Path, an independent “email intelligence” group, found that Obama’s email campaign dwarfed that of GOP rival Mitt Romney in terms of scope and effectiveness.

The study found that Obama had 13 million email subscribers — five times as many as Romney — with a 68 percent inbox placement rate (evading spam filters).  Romney’s placement rate was just 50 percent, according to the group, which based its findings on a random sample of two million inboxes between Aug. 27 and Oct. 10.

All told, by ABC News’ count, Obama sent 65 fundraising emails under his name to his campaign listserv; Michelle Obama sent 35; Obama campaign manager Jim Messina sent 34; deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter sent 45; national field director Jeremy Bird sent 21; and former President Bill Clinton sent nine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 262012

Win McNamee/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) – Only 11 days before Election Day, why is Paul Ryan visiting solidly red states like Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia?

It’s not for votes, but cash.

Despite Thursday’s announcement that the Romney campaign had $169 million cash on hand and there is limited air time left to buy in the battleground states, Ryan was fundraising Friday, making stops in Greenville, S.C., and Huntsville, Ala. This was the final money-hauling day on the GOP vice presidential nominee’s schedule, according to a Romney aide.

And haul they did, raising $1 million at an arena and concert hall Friday afternoon alone, according to Linda Maynor, a finance committee member.

Ryan also made a stop in Atlanta on Wednesday evening and was supposed to fundraise in Austin on Thursday, according to an invitation obtained by ABC News, but the campaign said Ryan would not be attending the event.

In Alabama, tickets ranged from $1,000 for the general reception, $5,000 for a photo with the House Budget Chairman, and a $25,000 donation or $50,000 raised for a ticket to the round table discussion with Ryan.

Ryan was joined by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and several members of the Alabama congressional delegation, and he noted the crowd “probably” doesn’t get to “see all the ads here, do you?”

“I’ve got to say, we’re in the home stretch here,” Ryan told the donors gathered at the Von Braun Center.  “We are very clear, very close, and the contrast could not be sharper. And what I want to do right now is to thank you for your generosity…. What you’re doing is you are helping us execute a campaign where, in these critical battleground states, we are giving the country what it deserves, which is the people of this nation get the right to make the choice about what kind of country they want to have.”

He made similar comments Wednesday evening in Atlanta where, unlike the ads that are drowning the airwaves from Florida to Virginia, Ohio to Colorado, Georgians aren’t exposed to them. Ryan even joked when explaining what the last-minute cash pays for.

“You probably don’t see a lot of the ads do you?” Ryan laughed at the event at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.

“What your help here today does is, it helps us see this through, it helps us get through the closing moments because there is so much clutter out there,” Ryan told the 600 donors.

Ryan added that the donations they are bringing in at the Southern events is used to “run through the tape and see it through the end.”

In Alabama Friday, he explained the late money in the campaign’s coffers “help us with what we call the ground game: mobilizing voters to get them to the polls. Historically, Republicans have not been as good at that. We’re getting a lot better.”

Ryan explained that the successful recalls in his home state of Wisconsin have taught Republicans “if you have a good ground game, if you get the choice into the hands of the voter they’ll make the right decision.”

“I really believe the feel on the ground, it feels like our recalls,” Ryan explained. “People are excited. People know we can do better than this. People know we can get back on top.”

He noted that red state Alabama voters are “not in what we call one of these battleground states because you have proven, dedicated principled leadership that’s not in question or in doubt.”

The Wisconsin Congressman said he used to call the Obama campaign’s attacks “the spaghetti strategy, throw something against the wall to see what sticks. Now he’s practicing the kitchen sink strategy, throw everything but the kitchen sink at us to try and win by default.”

Ryan’s Atlanta fundraiser Wednesday cost donors $500 for the general reception, $10,000 for a photograph with the congressman, and $25,000 for the roundtable. The donation price tags may sound staggering, but it’s standard fare for both Romney and Ryan fundraisers, as well as the high dollar events President Obama has had throughout his campaign. It was quite a contrast, though, for Ryan who earlier the same day gave a speech on eliminating poverty and upward mobility in the critical state of Cleveland.

Of course it is not just Republicans raising massive amounts of money, Obama has spent more time fundraising than any other incumbent president.

This campaign is on pace to break the $2 billion mark with the president already hitting $1 billion and Romney close behind, with $954 million, according to disclosures filed by the campaigns Thursday. This is the most expensive campaign in history because traditionally, a candidate was given a fixed amount of money to run with from the national conventions through Election Day.

That all changed, though, four years ago when Barack Obama broke his pledge to accept federal funding in order to raise the money himself. This time around neither candidate is using the public financing system. That coupled with the rise of the super PACs have turned the race for the White House to a campaign where candidates split their time between campaigning in the battleground states and pumping donors for cash all over the country. The birth of the superPAC gives wealthy donors the ability to give unlimited amounts to both sides for the first time.

Friday’s event in Alabama was the last one on the schedule for Ryan. Romney’s final fundraiser he would attend took place on Oct. 20 in Palm Beach, Fla. while Obama’s was on Oct. 11 in Miami.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 252012

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) — Mitt Romney has raised $111.8 million in the first half of October, a campaign aide said on Thursday.

“BOOM: In first half of October alone, @mittromney effort raised $111.8 million,” spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in a tweet.

In an e-mail to donors, Romney’s National Finance Chair Spencer Zwick wrote, “We are proud to announce that the Romney Victory Effort raised $111 million from Oct. 1-17.”

“We are a successful finance team because of you, the members of the National Finance Committee,” Zwick continued.  “In these final days of the campaign, we know that you brought us to this point and that your support will carry us through to victory on November 6th.”   

The impressive fundraising numbers come during the time period of three of the four debates.  Romney participated in presidential debates on Oct. 3 and Oct. 16, and his runningmate Paul Ryan faced off in the veep debate on Oct. 11.

Saul announced following the first debate that the campaign had raised more than $12 million over 48 hours.

Romney’s biggest full month fundraising haul to date came in September, when the campaign and the Republican National Committee reported raising $170.4 million.  President Obama’s record haul also came in September — the campaign’s efforts raising $181 million.

If the Romney campaign is able to keep up its fundraising pace in the second half of October it would break a new campaign record.

“President Obama is running a smaller and smaller campaign as we approach Election Day,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement.  “Instead of offering a vision for how to help the middle class, he is only offering the same ideas and policies that led to the last four years of falling incomes, higher debt, and more government dependency.  Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are offering a pro-growth agenda and a different course than the president.  In less than two weeks, the American people will choose the Romney-Ryan ticket so that our country can finally get back on the right track.”

The Romney campaign says that it has approximately $169 million in cash on hand after Oct. 17, and that more than 91 percent of the donations received during the time period were of $250 or less.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio