"I don't think anyone realized going into this cycle exactly how much money was going to be involved," said former Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, a past chairman of the fundraising arm for House Democrats. "This is a brave new world of campaign finance."
Obama was cheered by 550 supporters in Denver, where tickets at a fundraiser started at $250 and topped out at $40,000 per couple for a photo with the president. Obama accused Romney of seeking to return to economic policies that preceded the recession. "It's the same old stuff they've been peddling for years," the president said.
Afterward in California, Obama spoke at a fundraising dinner in Atherton that included a performance by David Crosby and Graham Nash. About 60 people paid $35,800 per person to attend. The president said the nation had made significant strides during the past 3 1/2 years but said "we may not even finish it in 5 years but I certainly need 5 more years to get us locked in on where we need to go."
Obama capped the night at a reception with 1,100 people in Redwood City, with a performance by Ben Harper. Tickets started at $250, with some couples paying $12,500 for a photo with the president. On Thursday, Obama was speaking at a private fundraising breakfast in San Jose.
To keep his edge, Obama isn't just focusing on big money.
Many of the planned high-dollar fundraisers include a raffle designed to raise millions more and get more people involved.
In some cases, the grass-roots component raises more than the swanky fundraiser: Of the $15 million Obama raised at a celebrity-studded dinner two weeks ago at actor George Clooney's Los Angeles home, $9 million came from small-dollar donors hoping to win a chance to attend.
Clinton, arguably the most prominent Democratic fundraiser not in the White House, is joining Obama for two events in New York on June 4. Obama's campaign also is raffling off a trip to New York — including airfare and hotel for what's being called "Barack on Broadway" — for two winners and their guests to attend. The two presidents will attend a dinner later that evening featuring a performance by Jon Bon Jovi.
Two days later, Obama jets to Los Angeles for a high-dollar reception with gay and lesbian supporters, featuring a performance by Pink, and a $25,000-per person dinner at the Beverly Hills home of "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy and his fiancé David Miller. Events also are planned next month in Baltimore, Boston and back in New York, where the president will raise money at the home of Parker, of "Sex and the City" fame. A travel-package raffle for small-donors is tied to that, too.
"It should be fabulous," Parker said in an email to Obama supporters.
Obama began airing two new ads Wednesday, one about his work with veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and another aimed at seniors dependent on Medicare.
In the veterans spot, Obama credits veterans for allowing the U.S. to "go after al-Qaida and kill (Osama) bin Laden" and says the nation has a "sacred trust" to help veterans heal their wounds and find jobs. The ad on Medicare notes that Obama was raised by his grandparents and cites his administration's efforts to root out health care fraud.
The TV ads are part of the $25 million ad buy the Obama campaign launched in May, running in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.
Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said Obama's team can't "distract voters from three years of broken promises on Medicare and our commitments to our veterans."
Associated Press writer Jack Gillum in Washington contributed to this report.
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