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Obama, Clinton Headline Trio of City Fundraisers

Monday, June 04, 2012

US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event at the Apollo Theatre in New York on January 19, 2012. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is getting a little help from former President Bill Clinton at a trio of campaign fundraisers in New York.

Clinton warned Monday that a Mitt Romney presidency would be "calamitous" for the nation and the world, going further than even President Barack Obama in depicting the consequences of a return to Republican rule of the White House.

With Obama standing thoughtfully to one side, Clinton slammed Romney by name, an apparent rebuttal to his own comments last week that were widely seen as flattering to Romney's background in business.

Clinton said Obama had earned a second term because of his steering of the economy through a "miserable situation" and "the alternative would be, in my opinion, calamitous for our country and the world."

Clinton's take came as he helped raise at least $3.6 million for Obama at three New York fundraisers. The two have patched over a personal rift from the 2008 campaign when Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in a bitter Democratic primary. But Clinton caused some heartburn in Obama's campaign last week by remarking that Romney had a "sterling" business record - an assertion that undercut Democrats' criticism of Romney's decisions at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

For his part, Obama said the economy had been difficult for so many voters that some could reach the point that "you're willing to try just about anything, even if you've seen it before."

Clinton's larger point was that Obama is the better choice to steer the economy, and the White House denied that Clinton "made news." Still, the televised remark gave Republicans campaign gold just as the government released a disappointing report saying the United States created far fewer new jobs in May than expected - a big political blow for Obama.

Obama and Clinton also are on opposite sides of a close Democratic congressional primary contest in New Jersey. Clinton also campaigned last week for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. Barrett faces Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a special recall election contest on Tuesday but has seen little backing from the Democratic Party or Obama.

Still, Clinton's ability to deliver campaign dollars and his record as a sound campaign strategist make him an asset to the Obama campaign that apparently outweighs any drawbacks.

Obama campaign bundler and billionaire investor Marc Lasry held an exclusive reception Monday night, followed by a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The evening was to conclude with an event dubbed "Barack on Broadway" at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Obama will return to Manhattan next week for a fundraiser at the home of "Sex and the City" actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

About 50 people attended the $40,000-per-ticket reception at Lasry's home. Tickets to a 500-person gala at the Waldorf-Astoria began at $2,500. Those who contribute $35,800 or raise $100,000 get access to a smaller reception with Obama.

The concert at the New Amsterdam Theater was expected to draw 1,700 people. Tickets for that event started at $250, the Obama campaign said.

While Obama was in New York, Romney was on the West Coast to attend fundraisers in Portland, Ore., and Seattle.

Monday night was not the first joint fundraising appearance by Obama and Clinton. The two appeared together and addressed supporters in late April at the Virginia home of Clinton adviser Terry McAuliffe.

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