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Bloomberg - Obama Can Spread Prosperity, Fairness, Buffett Says

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Bloomberg - Obama Can Spread Prosperity, Fairness, Buffett Says

By Julianna Goldman

U.S. Senator Barack Obama is a "leader" who can ease economic disparity while increasing prosperity, billionaire Warren Buffett said at a fund-raiser he held for the presidential hopeful last night.

"We have abundance but we don't have as much fairness as we might have in the system," Buffett, 76, told attendees at the Omaha, Nebraska event.

Buffett, who has not endorsed Obama, 46, or rival New York Senator Hillary Clinton, 59, said earlier this year that he would help either of them with their presidential campaigns if asked. He has often criticized the government for favoring the rich, repeating a charge tonight that Congress is the "tax planner" for the rich.

"Apparently the government in its wisdom thinks that some guy like me is like the condor or the spotted owl or something to be protected," he said last night. "We really need to figure out some way not to fill the golden goose but actually to have abundance grow."

Obama can "lead us to the right place," Buffett said, spreading prosperity so that it is more inclusive.

While the Obama campaign would not say specifically how much was raised last night, around 200 people paid $500 to attend the event at the Ironwood Country Club; and about 35 people paid $2,300 each to attend a private reception with Buffett and Obama beforehand. A fund-raiser Buffett attended in New York on June 27 raised about $1 million for Clinton, her campaign said.

Buffett will hold another event for the Illinois senator this fall, though the specifics are still being determined, said Robert Gibbs, an Obama spokesman.

Obama Under Fire

Obama took several questions from the audience and spent the most amount of time answering a question about his foreign policy experience. He has come under fire from other Democratic presidential candidates who question his credentials on this subject.

"When people say they are looking for experience, what they really mean is judgment. The assumption is experience is a proxy for judgment and in some cases it is," he said. "You assume that Warren Buffett has experience in investing and he now has better judgment than some young analyst just starting off as an investor. On the other hand, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have lots of experience, no judgment."

Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., built the Omaha, Nebraska-based company over four decades, transforming a failing textile manufacturer into a $168.4 billion holding company by buying out-of-favor stocks and companies. He pledged most of his fortune to charity last year.

Donor Network

Obama, who has been focusing on building a large network of donors giving small amounts, raised $33.1 million from April through the end of June, including $10.3 million from the Internet. The support of so-called netroots activists has helped him raise the most money and compile the largest overall list of donors in the field, including 110,000 who gave on the Internet.

Obama said his ability to raise more donations of $200 or less than his democratic rivals combined is something that sets him apart from the other candidates.

"I've been able to reach out to independents and Republicans in ways that a lot of Democrats have not had the capacity to do," he said when he was asked why somebody should support him over Clinton.

While Obama is receiving plenty advice on his campaign, "Warren Buffett is one of those people I listen to," he said.


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