Barack Obama went to New York Thursday and blamed lobbyists, greedy businessmen and complacent Washington politicians for creating “an ethic of greed” that led to today’s foreclosure crisis.
Not long after he left the stage, the Democratic presidential hopeful attended a fundraiser held by his campaign in a room in the Manhattan headquarters of Credit Suisse, one of the major investment companies caught up in the subprime lending mess.
US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) delivers a speech on the economy at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, March 27, 2008. [Agencies]
While the fundraiser was not sponsored by the mortgage lender, Obama’s dual appearances highlight a challenge for all three of the remaining presidential candidates: convincing ordinary citizens they have the right formula for fixing the economy and enough independence from the nation’s financial mandarins to push it through Washington.
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign pounced on the mixed images evoked by Obama’s New York schedule.
"According to the standard set by the Obama campaign, it looks like Sen. Obama will have a hard time cracking down on the practices that caused the credit and housing crises," said Phil Singer, the Clinton campaign spokesman.
But Bill Burton, an Obama spokesman, fired right back.
“Today’s event was a general fundraiser in a room paid for by our campaign and attended by people from varied backgrounds who are committed to changing the tone of our politics -- and rejecting the kind of tactics that the Clinton campaign is now embracing. Any suggestion that this was a fundraiser hosted by the mortgage industry is laughable,” he said.
In truth, all of the candidates have made multiple trips to New York’s financial district -- including the big investment firms now caught up in the mortgage meltdown -- to collect cash for their campaigns in the past two years.
Bear Stearns, the near-bankrupt investment house that set off the latest market upheaval and the largest underwriter of mortgage bonds last year, was a regular donor.
Clinton has received $122,160 from Bear executives. Obama collected $40,925 and presumptive GOP nominee John McCain pocketed $66,800.
Morgan Stanley ranked second among mortgage underwriters last year. Its executives have given $383,420 to Clinton, $161,850 to Obama and $80,651 to McCain.