BOSTON — President Obama was in Greater Boston Wednesday night raising money for his party, as he tries to preserve a Democratic Senate in this fall’s election.
The president addressed two small groups of donors, first at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, then at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter in South Boston.
As Obama made his way through the city, protesters met him at various points. In Cambridge, the Russian invasion of Crimea was foremost on their minds: There were Ukrainian flags and signs saying, “Putin nyet.”
In South Boston, it was a handful of protesters against the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Secretary of State John Kerry must soon recommend to Obama whether the pipeline should proceed.
Among those present at the South Boston event: venture capitalist and former congressional candidate and candidate for lieutenant governor and governor Chris Gabrieli, who is now pushing for a longer school day. Gabrieli says the president talked about everything from what keeps him up at night to the perils of losing control of Congress.
“Like LBJ, when you have a Democratic majority, you get a lot done, which he did in the first two years, and when you don’t, it’s tough going,” Gabrieli related.
The president also spoke of his worries.
“He brought up on his own what keeps him up at night and his first item was talking about loose nukes,” Gabrieli said.
Donors paid $5,000 and up to hear Obama tell them he wants to galvanize Democrats for this fall’s election. Venture capitalist Mark Goodman was among the 70 donors who attended the South Boston event.
“I would hate to see the president lose the Senate,” Goodman said. “I would hate to see him lose ground in the House. I think it’s going to be tough.”
Times are tough for Democratic fundraising.
The party’s national committee, which gets the money the president raised Wednesday night, has a debt. The Republican National Committee has a tidy $9 million surplus.
Massachusetts is the Democratic Party’s fourth best state for contributions, but fundraising in this election can’t compare to the last one. In the 2012 election cycle, Massachusetts Democrats gave more than $132 million. But there was a president to re-elect, and a Democratic candidate to put in the Senate. In this election cycle, Massachusetts Democrats have given only $21 million so far.
President Obama says he’ll put Gov. Deval Patrick, a gifted speaker, to work around the country to fire up the party.