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Chamber CEO: Climate Change Flap Is Working Out Great For Us

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Newscom / BILL GREENBLATT

It sounds like the controversy has left Donohue in a somewhat foul-mouthed mood.
Discussing the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to regulate carbon, he said: "If we got the EPA one, then we are in deep sh-- as a country. You want to see unemployment? You will see some."

And playing down the recent high-profile defections of PG&E, Exelon, Apple and several other companies, over the group's opposition to real efforts to address climate change, Donohue declared: "Members come and go all the damn time."

We reported last week that the Chamber has sent out fundraising solicitations that try to use the attacks to raise money. And Donohue, without providing specifics, claimed it's working: "There are some long-standing members that wanted to step up and help more, and I think there were some people who were [thinking about giving to us] and decided it was a good time to do it."

Indeed, with an assist from Politico, Donohue tried to claim that this whole thing is working out just great for the Chamber. See if you can follow the argument here, which Politico seems to find compelling:

Donohue insists the association will exceed its fundraising for last year by more than $10 million. And the timing of the White House attack could further pad the Chamber's war chest.

Here's why: The Chamber recently launched a campaign to raise $100 million for its Campaign for Free Enterprise. And a chief reason was to hit up rich individuals who are concerned about the direction Obama and the Democratic Congress are taking the economy and markets.

Many of these are new donors, the super-rich, who will fund ads and advocacy that largely help Republicans. And this will allow the Chamber to potentially raise even more money, an obsession of Donohue's that rubs some the wrong way but keeps him atop the association at the age of 72.

Donohue insists the Chamber isn't simply pro-Republican. Indeed, it does support some pro-business Democrats and Democratic issues. But the vast majority of its money goes to lobbying for positions supported by Republicans -- and to ads that directly or indirectly help Republicans.

If the combination of Obama policies and attacks on the Chamber turns business against Democrats, it could have a big effect on elections. Many businesses, spooked by the crackdown on soft money, have been reluctant to fund groups outside of the Chamber in recent elections. If they are motivated, Republicans will have a much better chance at reclaiming the money edge that they once enjoyed but have let slip away in recent years.

Several CEOs have told POLITICO in recent weeks they have gone from genuinely uncertain about Obama's economic views to authentically concerned. And the outcome of climate change, health care and regulation could turn much of business against the president's goals.

Everything is going perfectly according to plan.