President Obama thanked Boston Monday for trading Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis to his Chicago White Sox, but he owed far more thanks to the supporters who donated thousands of dollars to see him at three Boston-area fund-raisers.
His campaign did not release the day’s total take, but multiplying the per-head minimums by attendees at the events indicated an amount upwards of $3 million.
The whirlwind day — with stops at Hamersley’s Bistro in the South End, Symphony Hall, and a private home in Weston — was intended to tap a Massachusetts well that has yielded fewer maximum individual contributions than the president collected in his 2008 campaign. As of a month ago, the number of Bay State supporters who contributed the $2,500 maximum to Obama’s campaign fund had plunged by nearly half when compared with the same period four years ago.
The largest turnout was at Symphony Hall, where a diverse crowd of 1,800, gathered around circular tables and in the balconies, lavished the president with both applause and rapt attention.
“Boston has a lot of smart people,” Obama said with a wide smile.
His quip about Youkilis led to some confusion. What he thought were just boos from the audience included the trademark chant of “Youk” in honor of the Sox veteran.
Obama spent more than an hour inside Hamersley’s Bistro, whose front windows were covered, while hundreds of people waited on Tremont Street for a glimpse of him. Boston’s police commissioner, Ed Davis, joined the heavy-security team of city police, State Police, and Secret Service on Clarendon Street, where the president’s limousine was parked. At the restaurant, 25 supporters, hosted by Boston advertising executive Jack Connors, paid $40,000 each to attend.
Obama left the gathering for the five-minute drive to Symphony Hall, where hundreds of people stood behind barricades.
Many held signs, including one that read, “The 1% of Boston Welcomes Obama.”
At Symphony Hall, general-admission tickets started at $250, with a limited number at $144 for younger supporters. And at the day’s final event at the Weston home of Judi and Douglas Krupp, 100 people who attended dinner with the president paid $17,900 each.
Diners there included Governor Deval Patrick; state Treasurer Steve Grossman and his wife, Barbara; Hingham insurance executive Phil Edmundson; and Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ founder, Josh Boger.
In introducing Patrick at the Krupp home, Obama described him as “someone whom I genuinely consider a brother, and I don’t mean that in the vernacular.”
The pressure on the president has been ratcheted up by Mitt Romney’s fund-raising performance. In May, for the first time, Romney’s joint fund-raising committee collected more money than Obama, $76.8 million to $60 million. Despite being outpaced last month, the president’s return to Boston just before the end of the fiscal quarter should boost his numbers.
The money raised Monday will be funneled to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee composed of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee, and several state Democratic parties.
Before the fund-raising flurry in the Boston area, the president made a brief campaign stop in New Hampshire, a battleground state he won easily four years ago in defeating Republican John McCain. Addressing an overflow crowd at the Oyster River High School gymnasium in Durham, he amplified one of his campaign’s key lines of attack: the record of Romney while leader of the investment firm Bain Capital.
“Now, just last week, it was reported that Governor Romney’s old firm owned companies that were ‘pioneers’ in the business of outsourcing American jobs to places like China and India,” Obama remarked. “So yesterday, his advisers were asked about this and they tried to clear this up by telling us there’s actually a difference between ‘outsourcing’ and ‘off-shoring.’ That’s what they said. You cannot make this stuff up,” he said to laughter.
Obama alluded to his recent announcement of an executive order that would allow stays of deportation for young immigrants brought to this country illegally as children by their parents if they meet certain criteria. But he did not mention the Supreme Court’s ruling, issued a few hours earlier, that upheld the core of Arizona’s immigration law but struck down other sections, thereby leaving intact a provision that allows law enforcement officers to check the status of those they detain if they are suspected of being in the country illegally.
The president also played up New Hampshire’s role in the November election, and said it could help the nation break the partisan stalemate in Washington.
“I’m here because your country needs your help,” Obama said. “What’s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different visions of which direction we should go. And, New Hampshire, this election is your chance to break the stalemate . . . to move this country forward instead of seeing it go backwards. That’s why I’m here.”
In response, a Romney campaign spokesman, Ryan Williams, issued a statement rapping Obama, saying the president “knows he has no compelling case to make for a second term. That’s why he continues to use false and discredited attacks to divert attention from his abysmal economic record.”
This was Obama’s second visit to New Hampshire this year, including an official stop in Nashua in February. Vice President Joe Biden has made at least five visits to the state. The state’s four electoral votes could be important in November if the race stays tight.
The president was on the ground in New Hampshire for a little over two hours, including a stop after his remarks at the high school to buy a hot fudge sundae for himself and ice cream for aides at the University of New Hampshire Dairy Bar, where he also chatted with some of the patrons. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, led the party that greeted Obama after Air Force One touched down at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston led the delegation that met the president later at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
Other tarmac greeters included developer Bob Beal, Democratic congressional candidate Joseph Kennedy III, state Representative Jeffrey Sanchez of Mission Hill, and Governor Patrick.
Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brian Mooney can be reached at email@example.com.