Whitehouse kicks off 2012 reelection campaign money chase
Democratic incumbent Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse unofficially kicked off his 2012 reelection campaign tonight with a well-attended fund-raiser at the Providence Biltmore featuring a speech by Sen. Jack Reed and appearances by just about every top Rhode Island Democrat.
The crowd of more than 350 jammed into the hotel’s Garden Room to hear Reed urge Democrats to begin working now to reelect both Whitehouse and President Barack Obama.
“This is one of the most important elections in our history,’’ said Reed. “It is about reelecting the president and re-electing Sheldon Whitehouse.’’
Reed exhorted Democrats to work hard “each and every day’’ until the November, 2012 election.
Introducing Whitehouse, Reed said, “I want him at my side.’’
Whitehouse returned the praise and called Reed an inspiration and a “true Rhode Islander.’’
Both Reed and Whitehouse emphasized traditional Democratic themes and support for President Obama’s plans to get the economy moving by making the country more competitive.
Whitehouse focused on manufacturing, saying that Rhode Island small businesses have been more optimistic of late. He also called for tougher economic policies with respect to China, especially in the realm of currency valuation. He said it is wrong to “walk down the aisles at Wall-Mart’’ and see so many items “made in China.’’
Many General Assembly Democrats were in attendance, including Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport. Among those at the fund-raiser: General Treasurer Gina Raimondo (and former treasurer Anthony Solomon) Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, State Democratic Chairman Ed Pacheco, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and a bevy of lobbyists and rank-and-file Democrats. There was a strong delegation of organized labor, including George Nee, AFL_CIO chief, Patrick Quinn of the SEIU and Scott Duhamel of UPAT.
Whitehouse campaign aides did not release a dollar figure, but given the size of the crowd it probably cleared six figures.