First Lady Headlines Fundraiser at Home of Will Smith

Updated

First Lady Michelle Obama appeared at a lunchtime fundraiser today at the Calabasas home of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, in what is expected to be the final major L.A. fundraising event for the president’s reelection campaign.

Sources who were there said that the event sold out with 300 or so people, and the gathering was expected to set records for money raised at one of the First Lady’s Southern California fundraisers. An exact figure was not immediately released. Update: A finance source says that the event raised almost $2.5 million.

Among those at the event were Salma Hayek, Katy Perry, Wendy Williams, Clarence Avant, Nicole Avant, Nick Cannon, Aisha Tyler, Vivica A. Fox, Mai Lassiter and CAA’s Rick Hess.

Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon, Southern California finance co-chair of Obama’s reelection campaign, said that the crowd was “motivated,” rather than distraught, with polls tightening to a neck-and-neck race nationally since the first presidential debate.

“The sense I am getting is the race is where it always was going to be right now,” he said, adding that Obama maintains a lead in almost all of the swing state polls. He said that the release of the 47% video in September may have given some Obama supporters a sense that the president would maintain a lead to election day, but “we always knew it was going to tighten up after the first debate. That’s physics.”

Solomon, who attended the first debate in Denver, said that while Romney took on more moderate rhetoric and positions during the debates, the “half life” on the Massachusetts governor’s pivot “has run its course.”

Tickets to the event started at $2,500 per person, and went up to $40,000 fper couple for a greeting and photo op with Obama, as well as the luncheon.

On Friday, Michelle Obama is scheduled to attend a fundraiser at the La Jolla home of Irwin and Joan Jacobs.

The Obama campaign announced on Thursday that it had raised just over $90 million in the first 17 days of October. Romney’s campaign announced earlier this week that it raised almost $112 million during that time frame.

The First Lady’s speech echoed many of the themes she had at the Democratic National Convention — a mix of the personal and policy positions. She praised Smith and Pinkett. “They have stepped up
for us in so many ways, and it has truly just been a gift and a blessing to
have you guys as friends and as part of our lives,” she said.

Update: Per the pool report, “the crowd gathered on the shores of a lake that is part of a Japanese garden while the cool breeze of the Santa Ana winds moved away the heat that prevailed in the area the previous days.”

Obama’s complete remarks are below:

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