President Barack Obama is redoubling his efforts to curry favor with the financial industry, a bastion of support for his 2008 campaign whose members have criticized the president's rhetoric and support for increased regulation.
Obama recently brought two dozen Wall Street executives to the White House to seek their advice and allow them to air grievances, according to an account in the New York Times. Obama and his team aim to continue the courtship in coming months, with the president planning to dine at with financial heavyweights on the Upper East Side, in an effort to slow an exodus of high-profile donors.
The support of the financial industry will be crucial if Obama is to achieve his stated goal of raising $1 billion for the 2012 campaign -- in 2008 he accepted $71 million from the finance, insurance and real estate industry, nearly $10 million more than Republicans. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JP Morgan were among his top seven contributors.
He will find a powerful rival in Mitt Romney, a leading candidate for the Republican nomination who had deep ties to the financial industry and outpaces other politicians in the proportion of contributions he draws from Wall Street. Romney has cast his business acumen as his main qualification.
Wall Street's waning support for Obama reflects a broader shift away from supporting Democrats, many of whom have derided the outsize bonuses of Wall Street executives and what they see as irresponsible behavior that led to the financial crisis -- in 2009, Obama told 60 Minutes that I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street. Democrats were also the driving force between the Dodd-Frank legislation that overhauled financial regulation, a bill that the financial industry lobbied vigorously against.