Money Takes Center Stage in Presidential Campaign


Julian Moore
Staff Writer

Now that the Republican primary race has essentially been decided, leaders from both major political parties are engaged in a war of words over Mitt Romney and President Obama’s qualifications for the presidency.

On Monday, Mitt Romney responded to a political advertisement attacking his foreign policy credentials by saying “even Jimmy Carter” would have made the call to kill Al-Qaeda Leader Osama bin Laden. The barb harkens back to then-President Carter’s failed attempts to negotiate the release of 52 Americans held hostage at the American embassy in Tehran in 1979, and his decision to launch the rescue mission Operation Eagle Claw, which resulted in the deaths of eight American soldiers.

Romney’s claim came in response to an Obama re-election campaign ad that attacked Romney for saying in 2007 that, “it’s not worth moving heaven and Earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person,” in reference to bin Laden. The advertisement highlights President Obama’s decision to execute the mission that killed bin Laden and speculates that Romney would not have made the same order.

In an election predicted by numerous polls to be a close decision, President Obama has used his high marks on his foreign policy approval rating to make his case for re-election in his ads.

According to an ABC News/ Washington Post survey, 83 percent of Americans approve of how Obama has used unmanned drones in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, while 70 percent support the Iraq drawdown.

The Obama campaign also launched a map on their website last week, where Mitt Romney and his wife Ann hold bank accounts abroad, and in some cases, their accounts’ worth. The map shows holdings in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Bermuda, Australia and the Cayman Islands, where taxes on such holdings are relatively low. The bottom of the campaign’s page reads, “Tell Mitt Romney to bring his offshore accounts back to the USA.”

Romney has been attacked for his overseas holdings before, including once at a Maine town hall meeting, when he countered that his finances are managed in a blind trust. Blind trusts are common among politicians to avoid conflict of interest. Romney said while in Maine, that the overseas accounts were still subject to US tax laws.

During the campaign, the President has also begun to use his popularity among Hollywood stars to expand fundraising. During the past two weeks, Obama’s re-election team has raffled three seats to an exclusive dinner with Obama and actor George Clooney in Los Angeles on May 10. With a $3 donation to Obama’s campaign, winning participants will sit down with the President and Clooney, while other guests can pay $20,000 for tickets to dinner. Clooney has speculated the dinner will raise as much as $10 million for Obama’s campaign, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, would match the amount Obama received in Hollywood donations during all of 2008.

Obama has had difficulty asking for donations from entertainment executives this year after his stated opposition to the anti-piracy SOPA and PIPA bills, which would have allowed entertainment companies to pursue those downloading their content for free.