Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - As a partial shutdown of the federal government looms, both Democrats and Republicans are working to exploit the budget crisis to raise campaign money.
The showdown coincides with the end of third-quarter fundraising period and political candidates, parties and outside groups have made it a theme of their frantic, last-minute pitches for cash.
Democrats, who view a shutdown as one of the best opportunities to retain control of the Senate in 2014 and possibly make gains in the GOP-controlled House, portrayed Republicans as recklessly endangering government operations by using a stopgap spending bill to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans, meanwhile, are urging donors to give them more money to help roll back the health care law and elect more conservatives to Congress who are willing to challenge President Obama.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has outraised its Republican counterpart this year, set a goal Sunday afternoon of collecting 25,000 online donations. Hours later, the group boasted it had collected 5,500 contributions online and pleaded for more cash to offer a "show of support for President Obama at this critical moment."
Organizing for Action, a non-profit group created this year to advance Obama's second-term agenda, has issued multiple e-mail appeals in recent days, asking supporters to send money or add their names to missives that urge House Speaker John Boehner to approve a spending plan that does not attack the health care law.
Conservatives, too, are using the fight to rally their base.
In a fundraising pitch for the Republican National Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called the 2010 health care law a "gross overreach by the federal government that the American people didn't want then, don't want now and do not want to see continue." He said vulnerable Democratic senators have a choice when it comes to the budget shutdown: "Stand with their constituents or stand with President Obama."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., meanwhile, used the stalemate over the health care law to seek donations for his Reclaim America leadership PAC. If conservatives are to make their "goal of repealing Obamacare a reality, we need the right leaders in the Senate," he wrote.
He then asked his supporters to give him money to help aid Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton's Senate campaign. Cotton, a Republican, hopes to oust Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.
At least seven lawmakers also have political fundraisers scheduled this week, according to invitations compiled by the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, which tracks campaign activity.
Common Cause, a liberal group, on Monday called on lawmakers to suspend their fundraising if a shutdown occurs.
"It's unthinkable that in the midst of a shutdown, which may deprive up to 1 million federal employees of their paychecks, members of the House and Senate would pursue a political payday," said Karen Hobert Flynn, the group's senior vice president for strategy and programs.