Administration officials insisted Tuesday that President Obama was soliciting advice – not money – from a group of Wall Street executives he hosted at the White House a few weeks before he launched his reelection campaign.
During the White House meeting, Obama asked about two dozen banking CEOs for their insight on speeding the economic recovery and cutting the country's deficit, according to a New York Times story. The story suggested that Obama is trying to mend bridges with big-time Wall Street donors, after repeatedly referring to them as "fat cats" who don't deserve their hefty bonuses.
"What needs to be made clear is, contrary to suggestions otherwise, this was not a fundraiser," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said of the meeting. "And the fact that a president meets with his supporters in the business arena to solicit ideas about how to improve the economy is surely a dog-bites-man story. It’s something that presidents of both parties have always done. So I don’t know what else to say about it."
But the Times' claim isn't far-fetched: Obama may be feeling particularly vulnerable with Wall Street donors since Mitt Romney – the perceived frontrunner in the Republican field of presidential candidates – was once considered one of those "fat cats" when he was heading a $65 billion private equity investment firm in the '80s and '90s.