Why Romney Is Stealing Business Donors from Obama

Wall Street executives are taking Obama's criticism pretty personally

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At least a hundred Wall Street donors who backed Barack Obama in 2008 have switched sides and given money to Mitt Romney, Bloomberg's Jonathan D. Salant and Lisa Lerer report. For some, it's about hurt feelings. "It's going to be very hard for the president to bash the rich and create jobs at the same time," Anthony Scaramucci, who gave Obama $4,600 in 2008, told Bloomberg. So far, Romney has raised $2.3 million from the financial services sector, while the president has raised $87,000. But the trend is not entirely about partisanship. Politico's Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman reports that Michele Bachmann, too, has problems courting big donors. Echoing Scaramucci, a source told Politico, "It's really hard to convince Wall Street donors to give to someone who is trashing their industry."

But the change is not just about rhetoric, either. Politico's Mike Allen points to a video from the Financial Times taken at the Clinton Global Initiative. In the clip, Coca-Cola chief executive Muhtar Kent explains that in many ways, doing business in China is easier than in America, because Chinese provinces are competing for business investment and the Chinese foreign investment agency is easier to navigate than the complicated U.S. tax code. Doing business in America 20 years ago was easy, he says, but now, not so much:
[The U.S.] used to be a very efficient place to do business.  Efficient logistics, very flexible, very dynamic.  We had good infrastructure, but the quality of some of our infrastructure has become less efficient.  We’ve got this very high cost of health benefits and health care….  We’ve got a rather substantial regulatory burden, which takes different forms in different industries….  We’ve got a litigious society, where everything is handled through lawsuits and adversarial processes, which comes up over and over again in our interviews.  And then, right now, what’s really piled onto this is this concern that people have about what is the future?  Are we really going to be fixing these problems?  What does the future bring?  There’s enormous concern on the part of business leaders that there’s nobody in government that’s actually taking on and working on these challenges.  And this is shocking for the U.S.
When a country is in trouble, you can’t have a polarised political process. There’s too much comfort. We need more needles to stick in politicians.
Allen says Kent's comments should be "a massive wakeup call for official Washington, which keeps patting itself on the back for solving crises that shouldn't be crises, while ignoring the crumbling of the system's pillars." Allen says he hears similar comments frequently from businesses executives. "This certainly reflects the loss of business confidence in President Obama, which has occurred with startling finality. BUT WISE UP, GOP: These people don't like or trust you, either, dawg. The story of the year ahead: Will/can anyone lead?"
Scaramucci sees Romney as someone who can lead. "You need a turnaround specialist in Washington right now," he told Bloomberg. "You have to cut and cap the growth of the government, but at the same time you need to figure out a way to put the private and public sectors in balance to stimulate the economy. Governor Romney has done that." But despite Romney's flipping of some of former Obama donors, so far, not all of Wall Street is convinced. For Romney, "cash-rich New York had been tough... this quarter," Politico reports.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.