BARTLETT, N.H. -- Under pressure to raise millions of dollars in the coming weeks, Barack Obama's campaign is raising the bar for entree into his elite fund-raising world while heavily scheduling big political names and celebrities to help him raise campaign cash fast.
Membership on Obama's privileged National Finance Committee was once open to those who raised a minimum of $250,000; now it's $300,000 for entree. The "asks" for joint Obama/Democratic National Committee high roller events are getting higher.
On Wednesday in Los Angeles, VIP receptions with Michelle Obama went for $25,000. On Friday in New Jersey, rocker Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea hosted a dinner where the tab was $30,800 a person. On Sunday, classical music greats Leon Fleisher, Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman perform at a Maryland fund-raiser for Obama.
On Sept. 20 in Connecticut, brunch with Caroline Kennedy and Meryl Streep is a "tiered" event, with tickets from $10,000 down to $1,000. Kennedy, who co-chaired Obama's vice presidential task force, is making a series of fund-raising stops for Obama in the coming weeks. Former Vice President Al Gore and Paul Tewes, Obama's man at the Democratic National Committee, will headline a Sept. 25, $28,500 a person event in London.
Meanwhile, Illinois high-end fund-raisers have been asked to raise at least $1 million a week for the next eight weeks as the November election looms and early voting starts in many states in October. Vice presidential contender Joe Biden is in Chicago for a $5,000-per-person dinner Tuesday. Hillary Rodham Clinton hits Chicago next Sunday in a unity event overseen by Penny Pritzker, Obama's National Finance Chair and her brother, J.B. Pritzker, who advised Clinton in her presidential bid.
In order to squeeze money out of donors, Obama's marketeers have created different kinds of events for niche contributors, including packaging together Obama foreign policy advisers Susan Rice, Richard Danzig and Greg Craig for briefings.
An Obama "policy lecture series" -- a way to stroke donors is to make them feel they are real insiders -- features Obama top adviser Valerie Jarrett on Monday in New York. She will give what is billed as an "insider's view" of the campaign. The series is $10,000; one event goes for $2,500.
There is a "political and policy briefing and dinner with campaign leadership" on Sept. 10 in Chicago featuring the Obama All-Stars for those who raise or donate $10,000: campaign manager David Plouffe, senior adviser Peter Rouse, economic adviser Jason Furman, national field director Jon Carson, chief of staff Jim Messina, national finance director Julianna Smoot and economic adviser Austan Goolsbee.
Obama's success with small donors continues. His advisers said he raised $10 million online in the day last week between Sarah Palin's speech and John McCain's keynote at the GOP convention.
And despite McCain's taking some $84 million in public funding for his general election campaign, he still can headline events for the Republican National Committee.