R. Donahue Peebles, Obama Fundraiser, Says Attacks On Romney Woke 'Sleeping Giant'
It's something that the 52-year old Peebles, whose company website touts The Peebles Corp. as "the country's largest African American real estate development company," has been adept at doing. But now Peebles, a top fundraiser for President Barack Obama and a member of his reelection campaign's finance committee, is pushing to enlarge his footprint in the national political media by seeking out political reporters and criticizing the president and his campaign's message.Monday morning, a public relations executive contacted The Huffington Post to set up a conversation with Peebles about why Obama and Democrats are being outraised by Republican Mitt Romney. It was the day it was announced that Romney and the Republican National Committee took in $106 million in June, compared with $71 million for Obama and the Democratic National Committee.
HuffPost was not the only news organization that Peebles spoke with on Monday or Tuesday. He was also quoted in The New York Times, Politico and the Hill. Peebles told the Times that he found certain attacks by Democrats on Romney's wealth to be "offensive."
And this wasn't the first time Peebles had spoken critically of Obama's attacks on Romney. In late May, he reached out through a PR representative to a BuzzFeed reporter to tell him that he found it "inconsistent" for Obama to criticize private equity and then take money from those who work in that field.
Based on Peebles' comments to the Times, Time's Mark Halperin wrote a short item headlined, "R. Donahue Peebles, Call David Plouffe," a reference to one of Obama top political advisers.
But in a 20-minute conversation with HuffPost Monday, Peebles went much further in blasting Obama's campaign messaging than he has before. He said, as he told other press outlets, that his frustration was sparked by receiving an email from the DNC that mocked Romney as "out of touch" for having a boat that fit 12 people, accompanied by a picture of the Republican presumptive nominee on vacation.
"That offended me. Now if I were on the fence, he'd have lost me," said Peebles, who described himself as nonetheless a "big supporter of the president's."
"What I get concerned about is the message from the Obama campaign that we only want someone who has not been successful to run for president. What do we want here? You can't be successful and run the country? We don't want somebody who has been successful to run it? That doesn't make sense," Peebles said. "So I look at that and I see that those things are becoming offensive to some of his strongest supporters, financially.
"It would be unrealistic to think that that kind of thing would not impact the enthusiasm for those who are supportive of the president, financially, and certainly would turn off others who were on the fence to say, 'You know, what the heck with it. I'm done,'" Peebles continued. "And they go on to Romney.
"And so what's happening is they've awakened a sleeping giant. This time around, business leaders, business executives and corporations will be involved in the political process like they've never been before, all because they've been awakened," he said.
But he also took issue with Obama's recently revived talking point about raising taxes on those who make $250,000 or more a year.
"I'm so tired of hearing that the rich are not paying their fair share of taxes. Yeah we are," Peebles said. "The super vast majority of wealthy Americans do not wake up every day and say, 'Let's see how we can pay less than our fair share of taxes.' They say, 'We're going to follow the law and we're going to hire some good accountants to tell us how to do it. And we're going to pay no more or no less than our fair share.'
"So to say that wealthy individuals are not paying their fair is unfair and delusional," he said. "So what should be said is that the wealthy Americans should have their tax rates raised because we need more money. Now by the way, if they got all these tax raises it still wouldn't put a dent in the national debt."
He wasn't done.
"We cannot attack wealth creation and attack people just because they're wealthy and we can't attack wealth and success, and making that a bad thing. It's like going to school and the bullies picking on the A-students, calling them nerds and so forth. So, what do we want, a whole school of dummies?"
And Peebles also defended Romney from the Obama campaign's criticisms over the candidate's bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
"They weren't illegal. There's not one allegation that he didn't pay his fair share of taxes. I will guarantee you that if you look at a large number of companies that the CEOs and so forth are supportive of this president, I would bet you that many of them have bank accounts in other countries," Peebles said. "Offshore, when it came to organized crime and illegal activity, to have bank accounts offshore, that's one thing, and that in conjunction with criminal conduct is something to criticize. Legal bank accounts offshore, there is not anything to criticize about."
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