UK & World News
Obama: Give More Campaign Cash Or Risk Defeat
President Barack Obama has issued a stark warning to his supporters ahead of this year's US presidential election: "Give more money or risk defeat."
"I will be the first President in modern history to be outspent in his re-election campaign if things continue as they have so far," Mr Obama said in an email to potential voters.
It is a change in tactics and an attempt to scare supporters into donating more.
Until now the campaign's tone had been more inspirational than alarmist.
The email even plucks one hypothetical scenario out of the ether to predict Mr Obama's inevitable defeat.
"We can be outspent and still win - but we can't be outspent 10 to 1 and still win."
The US economy's stuttering performance has given Mr Obama's republican challenger, Mitt Romney, more than a fighting chance in what is looking like a close and narrowing contest.
Most opinion polls give the president only the slimmest of leads. Some put Romney ahead.
And a Supreme Court decision two years ago has let loose almost unlimited amounts of money into the race.
Campaign groups, known as Super PACs, are now allowed to raise as much money as they like from individuals or groups to overtly support candidates.
There is in theory a ban on direct contact between candidate and Super PAC but in practice that constraint is effectively being flouted without sanction.
Multi-billionaires and corporate interests have been funnelling vast sums into Super PACs supporting Mitt Romney causing increasing alarm in the Obama camp.
In the email Barack Obama said he is worried about both the official Romney campaign and the Super PACs supporting him.
"Through the primaries, we raised almost three-quarters of our money from donors giving less than $1,000, while Mitt Romney's campaign raised more than three-quarters of its money from individuals giving $1,000 or more.
"And, again, that's not including the massive outside spending by Super PACs and front groups funneling up to an additional billion dollars into ads trashing me, you, and everything we believe in."
In 2008 the Obama campaign set new records in raising money from individual supporters. It began the year cheerfully talking about raising a billion dollars in support this time round.
But with the astronomically large sums of money now being directed at its opponents, even that may not be enough.
The impact is likely to be a tsunami of negative attack ads the like of which even Americans inured as they are to such things, may find overwhelming.
That may or may not lead to a backlash against the new leniency of campaign finance rules, but it will without doubt have a profound impact on the election.
Love them or hate them negative attack ads have been proven to work and neither side can afford not to use them.
This election is shaping up to be one of the closest, most expensive and aggressively negative contests in US history.