President Obama's campaign has a money problem. It's raised a lot of cash in 2011, exceeding its internal goals, according to reports.
That's not the problem. What apparently worries the campaign is this $1 billion number that's floating around, as in the amount the president intends to raise and spend on his re-election.
Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, has cited this number on the campaign trail in order to stir up his GOP base.
The Obama campaign fears that this alleged $1 billion goal, which it says is a myth, will keep too many supporters from making donations and eventually depress donations.
So in the same video released Thursday in which the campaign trumpets a great fourth quarter — in which it, along with the Democratic National Committee, raised $68 million, $8 million more than it publicly said was a target — Obama campaign manager Jim Messina warned potential donors against sitting on their hands.
"We also have a challenge that keeps coming up. Too many Obama supporters think we don't need their money. Or they don't need to give now. In fact, in the past weeks I've gotten emails that say, 'Oh, you don't need our money now" or "You're going to raise a billion dollars. Why do you need my money?"
"Look, I totally get why people would think that but they're completely wrong. First, the billion dollar number is completely untrue. And second, we have to build a neighborhood on-the-ground organization now, not in six months. And that takes your resources and donations today."
The Obama campaign raised $222 million for 2011, beating the campaign's internal goal according to news reports.
But the $68 million in the fourth quarter was less than the campaign raised in each of the prior two quarters. It was also slightly less than the $70.4 million President George W. Bush raised with the Republican National Committee in 2003.
While the campaign was clearly concerned about donor complacency if not fatigue, Messina indicated he was buoyed by the success Obama's team was having at raising money from a large number of small donors.
In the fourth quarter, more than 583,000 people donated, with more than 200,000 of those being first-time givers. More than 98 percent of donors gave $250 or less, Messina said, demonstrating strong grass-roots support.
Messina used that grass-roots support to bash Republicans who he intimated had a less democratic view of things.
"Our opponents don't have the kind of grass-roots operation we have. In fact, they don't even believe in it. Last week, the Republican Party filed a court brief asking that corporations be allowed to contribute directly to campaigns. We have a very different view of how to do politics."