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Political Notebook

Obama campaign hauls in $70m

October 14, 2011

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WASHINGTON - President Obama’s campaign raised more than $70 million combined for his reelection and the Democratic Party during the summer, an amount that gives him a clear financial advantage over his Republican rivals even as faces economic and political headwinds.

The total announced yesterday exceeds a goal set by the campaign of $55 million combined for the July-September fund-raising period but is about $16 million less than Obama raised during the April-June quarter.

Obama has dealt with declining poll numbers and a weakened economy during the summer, prompting the president to recently call himself the underdog in the presidential race. Campaign officials had said they would raise less because of canceled fund-raisers during the summer’s debt ceiling negotiations and a typical summertime lull in raising cash.

Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, said in an e-mail to supporters that more than 600,000 people donated to the campaign in the most recent quarter, more than the previous three months. He said that more than 980,000 people have given money to the campaign, and that in the most recent quarter, 98 percent of the donors gave $250 or less, with an average donation of $56.

“Getting to a million grassroots donors isn’t just a huge accomplishment this early in the campaign,’’ Messina said. “It’s our answer to our opponents, the press, and anyone who wants to know whether the president’s supporters have his back.’’

The numbers include $42.8 million for Obama’s campaign and $27.3 million for the Democratic National Committee, which will help Obama’s reelection effort next year. Obama raised $86 million combined during the April-June quarter.

Obama leads his Republican rivals in fund-raising by tens of millions and can save most of it for next year because he does not face a primary opponent.

— Associated Press

House passes measure barring abortion coverage

WASHINGTON - The House yesterday returned to an abortion issue that nearly sank President Obama’s health care law last year, with legislation that bars an insurance plan regulated under the new law from covering abortion if any of its customers receive federal subsidies.

Providers that offer abortion coverage would have to set up identical plans without abortion coverage to participate in the health insurance exchanges to be set up under the new law.

The legislation, which passed 251-172, is unlikely to be considered by the Democratic-led Senate and faces a veto threat from Obama. But it gives House Republicans, focused this year on cutting spending and reducing the size of the federal government, a chance to reaffirm their credentials on social conservative issues. Democrats chided Republicans for wasting time better spent on promoting job growth.

Supporters of the bill, including Representative Joe Pitts, a Pennsylvania Republican, say they are trying to close loopholes in the health care act that could lead to violations of the longstanding prohibition of the federal funding of abortion.

Opponents warn that millions of middle- and low-income women who receive partial subsidies to buy insurance would be denied abortion coverage. They say most providers were unlikely to set up two separate plans.

— Associated Press

Obama lauds passage of South Korea trade deal

WASHINGTON - President Obama praised a just-approved trade deal with South Korea yesterday as he welcomed the country’s president to the White House, offering warm praise for a solid ally in a world in flux.

At a joint news conference with President Lee Myung Bak, Obama called the long-delayed trade pact approved late Wednesday by Congress a win for both countries.

Obama said the deal would increase US exports by $11 billion and support 70,000 jobs while opening Korea’s market to more US goods.

Alluding to an issue that held up the deal, Obama said, “I’m very pleased it will help level the playing field for American automakers.’’

Lee said the trade deal, which still requires approval from South Korea’s legislature, “will mark a turning point in the enduring alliance between our two nations’’ and called it “a historic achievement that will become a significant milestone.’’

It is the United States’ biggest free-trade agreement since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

— Associated Press