Obama Touts Support for Gay Marriage at Star-Studded Fundraiser at George Clooney's Home
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - President Obama told a star-studded crowd at the Hollywood home of actor George Clooney that his decision to support same-sex marriage was a "logical extension of what America is supposed to be."
On Thursday night the president said his newly-publicized position crystallizes the difference between his vision for the future of the country and that of Republicans.
"It grew directly out of this difference in visions," Obama explained. "Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly? Does that make us strong? I believe it does."
The president introduced the issue of same-sex marriage by simply noting "Obviously, yesterday we made some news," drawing applause from the crowd on roughly 150 guests.
Tonight's posh dinner confirmed the Obama campaign's fundraising prowess. The president raked in a record-breaking $15 million from the $40,000 a plate dinner, according to host Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation.
In addition to the pricey ticket cost, a large chunk of the donations for the event were gathered through a low-dollar campaign contest that offered supporters the chance to have dinner at Clooney's house.
The two lucky sweepstakes winners were joined by some of Hollywood's biggest stars, who came out in droves for the event. The guest list ranged from actors Tobey Maguire and Salma Hayek to designers Diane Von Furstenberg and Trina Turk, to songstress Barbra Streisand and comedian Billy Crystal.
And then, of course, there was Clooney, one of the president's most prominent supporters.
"Let's face it we raise a lot of money because everybody loves George. They like me. They love him," the president joked.
Guests dined under a large rectangular tent on the actor's basketball court at his sprawling Studio City estate.
The décor was minimal and modern, with guests sitting at large round tables decorated with simple centerpieces of blue and white hydrangeas. Large chartreuse panels and big mirrors lined the walls, disguising the tent, and white paper globes hung from the translucent ceiling.
"I want to thank Clooney for letting us use his basketball court," the president quipped. "This guy has been talking smack about his basketball game ever since I've known him."
The president went on to rib his famous host, telling the story behind his signature 2008 "HOPE" campaign poster.
"People don't realize that the photograph of me is actually me sitting next to George," the president explained.
"This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been photo-shopped out of a picture," he said, getting a big laugh from the crowd. "It never happened before and it will never happen again."
But the president didn't stop there. He said the artist Shepard Fairey sent a special print to Clooney of both men based on the original picture.
"Why it said at the bottom 'Dope and Hope,' I don't know," Obama said to even more laughter.
All joking aside, the president implored Hollywood's elite to support his re-election bid and help him finish the job he started in 2008.
"This is going to be harder than it was the last time," the president admitted. "2008 in some ways was lightning in a bottle. That's not going to be replicated. And we shouldn't expect it to be. I've been president for three and a half years."
"That means we're going to have to work harder, that means we're going to have to be more determined, that means that passion that we brought to bear in 2008 is going to have to express itself, maybe not in such flashy form. It's going to have to be steady but we're going to have to keep those fires burning all the way through November and beyond, because I'm not interested in just winning the election. I'm interested in making sure we can finish what we started in 2008," he concluded.