President Barack Obama will attend two fundraisers Monday in Connecticut, where he holds a comfortable lead over Republican Mitt Romney in public opinion polls, though not as wide as his margin of victory in 2008 against John McCain.
The events include a $500 per person reception at the Stamford Marriott and a $35,800 per person dinner at the Westport home of movie producer Harvey Weinstein. The fundraisers could add about $2 million to Obama's campaign account.
Romney has raised about $4.8 million from Connecticut's residents in this election cycle, compared to $2.9 million for Obama, according to Federal Election Commission records. Elected officials have long come to Connecticut's Gold Coast to raise campaign cash.
Obama led Romney 50 to 38 percent in a Quinnipiac poll in June. The 12-percentage-point lead compared to a 16-point lead in March and a 13-point lead last September, according to Quinnipiac polls.
Obama defeated McCain by about 22 percentage points in 2008 in Connecticut. While his margin in the polls is less than the last election, he has little to worry about in Connecticut, said Doug Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"President Obama is in a strong position to win Connecticut again," Schwartz said Thursday. "It looks like a safe state for the president."
Obama will focus on swing states and doesn't have to campaign in Connecticut or spend money on advertising, Schwartz said. The last Republican presidential candidate to win Connecticut was George H.W. Bush, who has roots in the state, in 1988, he said.
State Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola said Romney could close the gap with Obama and make the race competitive. He cited high unemployment, the fact that Romney was governor of neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut's history of electing what he called Yankee Republicans.
Connecticut's unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent in June, from 7.8 percent in May.
"I believe ultimately by this fall that Connecticut has the potential to be a battleground state, a state where Gov. Romney can play some offense and force the president to play some defense in what was thought to be friendly territory," Labriola said.
Jonathan Harris, executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party, defended Obama, saying there have been 28 months of job growth. He acknowledged it would be tough to have the same margin of victory as in 2008.
"I still do believe that the president will win Connecticut handily," Harris said.
Tea party activists are planning a protest at the Stamford fundraiser.
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