In his 30-minute remarks at the home of John and Marilyn Wells, President Obama pledged that his “focus over the next several months” would be on keeping Congress in Democratic hands.
But he also defended his record to the crowd, heavy in Hollywood liberals, saying, “We have been able to deliver the most progressive legislative agenda — one that helps working families — not just in one generation, maybe two, maybe three.”
The event, which raised $1 million, was to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen delivering short remarks. Couples who paid a $30,500 package were treated to a photo with the president and a dinner the general reception.
As he has signaled to fund raisers in recent weeks, he took on a more aggressive tone toward Republicans, repeating imagery he used at a Wisconsin event earlier on Monday: When you want to go forward, you shift to ‘D.’ When you want to shift backward, you go to ‘R.’
“Even as the other side wants to offer fear, we’re going to offer hope,” he said, according to a pool report. Obama also talked about limiting carbon emissions and progress on “green jobs.”
“I hope you understand why we’re here tonight,” he said. “It’s not to take a picture with the president. We’re here to make sure those who took the tough votes are rewarded.”
Obama spoke in a walled courtyard of the estate, surrounded by a grass lawn, lemon trees and rose bushes and preceded by the sounds of a string quartet, according to the pool. “What a spectacular evening,” he said. “Let’s just hang out.”
But he left before dinner started. He’s staying the night in Beverly Hills and leaves early Tuesday to Seattle.
Update: Among those attending the event were Judd Apatow, J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrath, James Brooks, Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel (who performed), Barry Meyer, Alan and Cindy Horn, Rick Nicita and Paula Wagner, Stanley Gold and Eli Broad. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) attended the reception before darting off (as much as he could in the traffic) to his own fund raiser at the home of Bruce Corwin.
Although Obama did not stay for the dinner, the high dollar donors did get some face time with the candidate beforehand at a separate reception and photo line. One attendee, who did not want to be identified, described Obama relaxed, gracious and even a bit gregarious, more emotional and not as cerebral. The event did help change sentiments, whether they be cynicism over Democratic chances in the fall or frustration at the White House on various issues. “It gave people a boost,” the attendee said.
Among the topics donors brought up to Obama were the need to expand children’s health programs, the need to nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the consumer protection agency and the need to pass a jobs bill, particularly to motivate younger voters hit hard by the recession.
Obama did not talk much about the entertainment industry, but Pelosi did. She spoke about Hollywood’s importance as a business and cultural export.
Another update: Brian Lowry says Obama’s visit to liberal Hollywood is destined to inspire GOP attacks.
Another update: Obama’s full remarks after the jump: