Obama Makes Fun of His Debate Performance

Appearing onstage at the Nokia Theater fundraising concert this evening, President Obama made light of his performance at last week’s debate.

Early in his remarks to about 6,000 donors that filled the auditorium, Obama thanked the concert’s lineup, including Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, Earth, Wind & Fire and Jon Bon Jovi.

“They’re such great friends, and they perform flawlessly night after night,” he said. “I can’t always say the same.”

As he has at previous campaign events, Obama also took aim at Mitt Romney’s plans to cut federal funding for PBS.

“When he was asked what he’d actually do to cut
spending, he said he’d go after
public television.  So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t
worry, somebody is finally cracking down on Big Bird — cracking down on
him,” he said. “Elmo has made a run for the border.
Governor Romney plans to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s bringing the hammer down on Sesame Street.”

The event — with tickets starting at $250 per person (with a limited number for $44) — sold out, as many donors who have been sitting on the fence contributed to the campaign. It also marks what is expected to be Obama’s final swing through Los Angeles before the election. Rufus Gifford, finance director for the campaign, tweeted on Sunday, “Final LA event for @BarackObama. Been doing these since 2/07. Bittersweet but going out with a bang. Love you L.A.”

No figure was available for how much was to be raised at the event and a dinner this evening, where tickets were priced at $25,000 per person. Fundraising sources put estimates at between $5 million to $6 million. Update: A fund-raising source said that the final total was expected to be more than $7 million.

Compared to his performance at the debate on Wednesday, Obama was certainly more energetic at the event, which was more of a rally to motivate supporters to help with the campaign. He once again brought up Mitt Romney’s 47% video, something that the Republican nominee has disavowed. He also talked of the drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8%, from over 10% at one point during his term.

He also put the debate performance in perspective.

“Back in 2008 — everybody always remembers the victory, but they don’t
always remember the bumps in the road,” Obama said. “Things always look good in
retrospect.  But in the middle of it, we were — we made all kinds of
mistakes. 
We goofed up.  I goofed up.  But the American people carried us
forward.”

George Clooney made a veiled reference to Clint Eastwood, telling he crowd that it was not always good for an actor to take the stage and speak on behalf of the president. Although he didn’t mention Eastwood by name, the audience got it.

“I thought the whole thing was incredible. I thought the president was right on the mark,” said John Gile, a public affairs consultant who is raising money for the campaign. “His humility shows through and I felt, being inside there, this is what America should look like. It was a very diverse crowd, a loving crowd.”

Asked about the impact of the debate on voters’ decisions, Gile predicted that it would have a “neglible” influence.

Obama’s complete remarks are below:

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