Liberal activists delivered a pledge Friday to Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago warning that they will bolt if the president includes cuts to entitlement benefits in a deal to raise the debt ceiling.
Signed by more than 200,000 past Obama donors and campaign volunteers, the pledge represents $17 million in contributions and 2.6 million volunteer hours during the 2008 election, according to event organizer Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
In a news conference Friday, President Barack Obama confirmed that he would consider cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a proposal that has raised the ire of many of his most ardent supporters.
"If current beneficiaries are going to face cuts that means that my father may die a little bit sooner," said Diane Piron-Gelman, one of the activists who signed the pledge. She added that her father relies on Medicare for an expensive drug that keeps his cancer in remission. "I might even have to reconsider my vote."
An Obama campaign spokesperson said the president is doing what the country elected him to do: Take on the big challenges facing the nation.
"That's why he has put forward a framework to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid in the long run, and he supports finding bipartisan solutions to strengthen Social Security for future generations," the spokesperson said. "This contrasts with the plan the Republican candidates have embraced that extends tax cuts for the richest Americans and provides special deals for corporate jet owners and oil and gas companies, funded at the expense of the middle class and by ending Medicare as we know it."
Earlier this week the president's re-election campaign announced it shattered its second quarter fundraising goal, bringing in more than $47 million from more than 550,000 donors from April to June. But 260,000 of those donors were first timers, suggesting that Obama may be struggling to reinvigorate some of his 2008 base.
The activists behind the pledge said that despite their disenchantment with Obama, most will not sit out the 2012 election completely.
"No one will ever advocate not voting," said Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "We won't stand by and let the tea party dominate the polls. The big variable in 2012 is where people will put their energy and their dollars."
But activists were disheartened by the manner in which Ann Marie Habershaw, the chief operating officer for the 2012 campaign, received the stack of signatures on Friday.
"She just looked at it and said 'thank you,'" said Bill Barclay, who campaigned for Obama in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana in 2008. "There was no warmth. There was nothing."