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Obama's awkward fundraising dance with Wall Street [Updated]

October 20, 2009 |  8:41 am

President Obama
Tonight President Obama turns into Democratic Fundraiser in Chief, attending two events in New York City that could rake in $2 million to $3 million for party coffers.

Amid a full plate of contentious policy issues, some are asking whether the White House is tone deaf in scheduling the events, what MSNBC's First Read calls Obama's "optics problem."

The first event is a dinner for Democrat Bill Owens, running in a special congressional election in rural upstate New York to fill the seat vacated by Republican John McHugh when Obama appointed him secretary of the Army. This race tests the White House political strategy of appointing Republicans to administration posts from districts where Democrats stand a chance to replace them.

Tickets for the dinner are going for $15,200 a person ($30,400 a couple) and the Mandarin Oriental is preparing for 200 guests. Ever wonder how the food is at those prices?

Despite the administration's repeated blasts at Wall Street for doling out executive bonuses while millions of Americans are still out of work, many from the world of finance are expected to attend. In fact Democratic planners said that four of the seven “co-chairs” and about a third of the guests come from the industry. But the New York Times reports that some big firms bailed out by Washington during the financial collapse have been slow to sign up for the dinners. Apparently they're concerned that it might look like a payback.

Anyway, after that Obama heads to a rally/Democratic National Committee fundraiser, to be webcast to homes across the country, where he will campaign for healthcare reform, a rally by webcast piped into homes across the country.

Anyway, after that Obama heads to a Democratic National Committee rally/fundraiser, which will be available via webcast, to campaign for healthcare reform.

[Updated at 10:18 a.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the fundraisers could collect as much as $3 billion.]

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Jason Reed / Reuters

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