Much is being made of the estimated $10 million that Barack Obama picked up as he swung through Hollywood on Tuesday, but the candidate himself went out of his way to note that he was not in a celebrating mood.
His events, at the Doheny Mansion and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, come as the campaign is in a dead heat battle with John McCain, giving donors the jitters. But the greater worry was that Obama couldn’t look as if he was having as great time with stars and moguls while the economy teeters.
Per the pool report, he said that the campaign had a sober look at the country’s economic condition.
“It’s reminded people that this is not a game. This is not a reality show, no offense to any of you,” Obama said to laughter to a crowd at the Greystone Estate, where guests feasted on tables set up in cobblestone courtyard. “This is not a sitcom.”
He did get advice. In fact, the past few days, many in Hollywood have not been shy about trying to reach campaign officials to dispense advice.
“I know that a lot of you, just in conversations while we were in the photo lines, had all sorts of suggestions,” Obama said. “I know that won’t surprise you. And a lot of people have gotten nervous and concerned. Why is this as close as it is? And what’s going on?”
“We always knew this was going to be hard, and this is a leap for the American people. And we’re running against somebody who has a formidable biography, a compelling biography. He’s a genuine American hero, somebody who served in uniform and suffered through some things that very few of us can imagine.”
At the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Obama chided the McCain campaign for its tactics. He said, “My opponents, they aren’t good at governing, but they are good at running elections,” and some in the crowd shouted “lying.” But the candidate did not take the bait.
A massive line in front of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel left some donors visibly angry, and even shouting, but the situation inside was quite different in the hotel’s main ballroom.
The venue was small and intimate, and Raul Esparza and Ben Harper got a short period of entertainment off to a very good start with their performances. Esparza sang an a capella version of “America the Beautiful,” and Harper sang “Lifeline” with an unplugged guitar.
“Did some of you have a very nice dinner?” she asked, in a mirthful tone. “Did you have dessert, or am I dessert?”
She segued to “Make Someone Happy,” with the line, “He is the answer; we know Barack is the answer.”
Cameras sprung up from the crowd, before Streisand quipped, “I thought there was no press here tonight. Hmmm. YouTube junkies.”
She followed that with “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” and “My Shining Hour.”
Her criticism of John McCain came when she chided him for saying that Obama would raise taxes on the middle class when the candidate has proposed tax cuts.
“I woke up this morning with this slogan in my head. McCain. Palin. Change. And I thought. Change? What, from bad to worse?”
After Streisand finished, “Happy Days Are Here Again” was played as Obama took the stage, giving her a hug and a short whisper in her ear.
Other highlights of the night:
—Quincy Jones, who had supported Hillary Clinton in the primary, who said that he’s been contacting rappers to press them into action in getting the word out about voter registration. The deadline is just 10 days away, he noted.
—Donors flooding Obama aide Reggie Love with posters and books for the candidate to sign backstage.
—An Obama campaign worker threatening to call security on a reporter who was watching from the steps of the Beverly Wilshire, taking in sight of donors entering the ballroom.
—Liberal legend Stanley Sheinbaum, in a wheelchair but who braved the big crowd and attended the entire evening.