In an effort to avoid an embarrassing leak, the Obama campaign is reportedly asking donors attending the President's most intimate fundraisers to hand over their cellphones at the door. Pool reporter David Nakamura of The Washington Post said that more that 60 attendees who gathered at the home Blackstone CEO Hamilton James on Monday night were asked to place their phones in plastic bag when they entered. Zeke Miller at BuzzFeed says that veterans of other campaigns claim the practice is unheard of, even at private events, and there is no such ban at Mitt Romney's fundraisers.
The campaign says the no cellphone rule applies only at small fundraisers in private residences, which makes the moment all the uncomfortable as the people likely to attend such events are the richest and most powerful donors imaginable. Attendance at Monday night's event required a $35,800 donation. You would think that captains of industry and Hollywood celebrities would also be the ones most likely to respect the concept of "off-the-record," but the president is taking no chances. The smaller gatherings often include very candid Q&A sessions where the president is most likely to say something unplanned, like his "clinging to guns and religion" comment that dogged him for months during the 2008 campaign.
The potential for awkward moments particularly high last night, as Obama spent the morning calling for more Wall Street regulation, released an ad calling Mitt Romney's private equity firm a "vampire," then entertained Wall Street guests at the home of the man who runs one of the most successful private equity firm in the business. Now we'll never know just how awkward it got.