When it comes to business, everyone on Wall Street wants a piece of Warren E Buffett. His presidential politics, however, appear to be another matter altogether.
On Friday evening, Buffett was the host of a fund-raiser for President Obama at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, typically a magnet for the who’s who of finance. Democrats had bet that the star power of one of the world’s richest men would draw an overflow crowd of Wall Street’s elite for an affair that ran $10,000 a plate, or $35,800 for one-on-one time with Buffett.
Yet organisers had trouble drawing the biggest guns of finance. The President’s campaign reserved space for 130 guests but only 116 attended. And there were few marquee names on the guest list. James Chanos, the hedge fund executive, was among the better known of those who attended.
The event was considered a sell-out success by the Obama campaign. It raised more than $1.5 million for the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Still, the turnout, strong but less than overwhelming, reflected the President’s broader struggles in attracting big-name support from those on Wall Street.
Buffett, a major investor in many of the nation’s biggest banks, remains undeterred. As others in business have moved to distance themselves from Obama, Buffett has found himself in a lonely role as the President’s ambassador among the moneyed set.
“I have always had people disagree with me on politics,” Buffett said in an interview. “You can go through life and just basically opt out of that field. I don’t blame anyone particularly. If I have views I will talk about them.” NYT