Obama Reaches Out To Wall Street, Hedge Funders

Jun 13 2011 | 12:30pm ET

Facing a reelection campaign next year in a difficult economic environment, President Barack Obama is turning to a group that feels he has spurned it, and that has in turn spurned him: Wall Street.

Many of the hedge fund managers and investment bankers who helped bankroll the president's successful 2008 campaign are either sitting out this round so far or, worse for Obama, have switched sides, like one-time major Democratic donor Daniel Loeb of Third Point. But just weeks before he formally announces his reelection campaign, Obama is reaching out to hedge funds, private equity firms and Wall Street.

In March, two dozen financiers, including Eton Park Capital Management's Eric Mindich, York Capital Management's James Dinan, Highbridge Capital Management's Glenn Dubin and Tudor Investment Group's Paul Tudor Jones, were at the White House, given more than an hour to air their grievances with the president over hedge fund regulation and other issues that have made them unhappy. Obama also personally called several people who were unable to attend the meeting, The New York Times reports.

Jim Messina, the former White House deputy chief of staff now leading Obama's reelection effort, was in New York last month to meet with Obama's donors, including Marc Lasry, the Avenue Capital Partners chief who is close to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton. Obama himself will be in New York later this month to dine with bankers, hedge funders and private equity investors at the restaurant Daniel.

Obama's team has also leaned on its loyal supporters, including Boston Provident Partners' Orin Kramer, Mindich and Centerbridge Partners' Mark Gallogly, to defend the president and push their colleagues to open their wallets. And it is focused on people at firms that traditionally give more to Republicans, including Cerberus Capital Management's Lenard Tessler and the Blackstone Group's Hamilton James.

"Fundraising is certainly different than last time around in '07," UBS Group Americas CEO Robert Wolf told the Times.

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