Big Names in Los Angeles Raise Some Big Cash for Obama — and Didn’t Ask for His Birth Certificate

Apr 22, 2011 12:49am

From ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Jon Garcia:

President Obama hit up some big names in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles Thursday to pick up millions of dollars for his re-election bid in 2012.

Obama swooped into three fundraisers in four hours, including two dinners and a large rally at Sony Studios in Culver City, Calif.  (This capped off six total fundraisers over two days.)

The first of the two intimate dinners took place in the Sony Studio commissary and included Motown's Barry Gordy, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa and actor Dennis Haysbert—best known for playing the president on the television hit series "24" or, alternatively, the Allstate pitchman.

Then later at Tavern restaurant in the exclusive Brentwood section of LA, actors George Clooney, Will Ferrell and Tom Hanks, director Steven Spielberg and industry executive Jeffery Katzenberg listened as Obama thanked them for sticking with him in 2008 and said he was counting on them for support in his re-election bid in 2012.

“You all got involved when the prospect of electing Barack Hussein Obama was slim. None of you asked for my birth certificate. It was a complete leap of faith,” he told about 100 folks at the restaurant, referencing the perpetual questioning of Obama’s place of birth,  newly-revived by Donald Trump. 

At the Sony dinner he told a different group that “We’ve made incredible progress over the last two and a half years, but we’ve got so much more work to do… this is going to be just as hard, if not harder, than 2008 and I’m going to need all of you just as engaged, just as motivated, and taking as much ownership over the campaign as you did then,” he said.

At the large rally for younger donors, a group dubbed Gen44, singers Jamie Foxx and Jason Mraz and actress Rashida Jones warmed up the 2,000 plus audience in Sony’s Studio 30.

The soundstage was used to film parts of "Spiderman 4," "Cast Away," "Men in Black 2," "Iron Man 2," Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes," "The Ring," "The Dirty Dozen," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and many of Esther Williams' films, Sony VP Jim Kennedy told reporters.

Obama entered to his signature theme from the band U2, “City of Blinding Light” and chants of “Four more years!” (Though Obama corrected them to say it was more like five and a half.)

He launched into what are now becoming very familiar themes in his stump speech: the progress made coming back from recession and the challenges ahead, such as comprehensive immigration reform, revamping energy policy, reducing the deficit and implementing ‘shared sacrifice.’

That sacrifice includes ending the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 2 percent of earners and closing “loopholes and tricks” in the tax code.

“We want a society where if we’re asking people to sacrifice, don’t just tell millionaires and billionaires you don’t have to do anything, just count your money,” Obama said.

“It’s not that I want to punish success, I want everybody here to be rich,” Obama continued, adding that success should not come by hitting the lottery but by being successful.

On a lighter note, Obama said a few things have changed since the 2008 election including the fact that he’s got more gray hair.

“See folks here in Hollywood they can go gray and they can say ‘that was just for a part’ and they can rinse. I can’t do that,” he said to laughter.

And Tom Hanks quipped to the press at the Tavern dinner, “Hey, this is a private event.”

Democratic party sources said the tickets for all three events started at $100 and ranged up to the maximum legal limit of $35,800.

All of the money raised goes to the Obama Victory Fund and though officials declined to give a final tally, estimates suggest millions of dollars from about 2,700 donors.

 

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