ATLANTA – President Obama opened his Friday of fundraising with a rousing speech to 600 donors in Chicago and closed it with an intimate appeal before 40 “friends” that included talk-show host, business woman and American icon, Oprah Winfrey.
“There’s my good friend Oprah, who very early on when I was still running, just decided that she would support this guy with a name that nobody could pronounce,” Obama said as he addressed guests seated around five candle-lit tables adorned with bouquets of red roses inside the cavernous Chateau-style home of actor/producer Tyler Perry.
“And just like books, skin cream — when Oprah decides she likes you, then other people like you, too,” he said. “She continues to be not just a friend but somebody Michelle and I seek out in thinking about not just the day to day issues of the day but trying to keep our focus on the big picture. And what she’s done for so many people not just in America but around the world is extraordinary. ”
Oprah was flanked at her table by Perry, longtime friend and companion Gayle King, Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
“We’ve had a good day,” Obama continued. “It’s warm every place. It gets you a little nervous about what’s happening to global temperatures. But when it’s 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March it gets you thinking…”
“Something’s wrong,” Oprah interjected.
“Yeah,” Obama said in passing. “On other hand we really have enjoyed the nice weather.”
But Obama quickly made clear he didn’t spend the day traveling outside of Washington just to enjoy the sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures.
“Here’s the thing though: This is not a three year project, this is an eight year project,” he said of his political agenda. “So I need a little more time. I’m confident I can get there, but I need your help.”
The event at Perry’s home – Obama’s 107th fundraiser of the election cycle — was estimated to bring in at least $1.4 million for Obama and Democrats for the 2012 campaign. All told, the five events he attended to today raised at least $4.8 million combined, according to figures provided by a campaign official.