Despite his rising poll numbers and signs of disarray among potential rivals, President Obama warned hundreds of donors at a posh Holmby Hills estate Wednesday night that this year’s presidential campaign “is not going to be easier this time, it’s going to be harder this time.”
“I’m going to need you,” he said. “You’re going to carry this thing like you did in 2008.”
Obama spoke for nearly a half an hour outside the home of producers Colleen and Bradley Bell, best known for “The Bold and the Beautiful.” With tickets starting at $250 per person, the fund-raiser took on the air of a rally, with thesps Jack Black and Rashida Jones giving remarks and the Foo Fighters performing songs like “Hero,” “Walk” and “Learn to Fly.” Dave Grohl performed a solo of the song “Everlong.”
“Love the Foo Fighters,” Obama said of the recent Grammy winners. “They were tired of winning so many awards, so they said, let’s do something else tonight.”
Obama later attended a $35,800-per-person dinner for about 80 people in a giant dining room in the Bells’ home, with George Clooney, Jim Belushi, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Nicole Avant, former ambassador to the Bahamas, among the guests. Will Ferrell was listed among the co-hosts, but could not make it because he was in production.
According to a pool report, Obama’s speech did not address an issue that has, by and large, pitted Hollywood against Silicon Valley: a pair of anti-piracy bills in Congress that were sidelined after White House criticism and a storm of protest from the netroots.In fact, as his campaign seeks to deploy celebrity surrogates as a way to boost enthusiasm, the starry introduction for Obama seemed to belie studio chiefs’ unhappiness over the way that the White House staked out its position.
Instead, Obama focused a great deal on the economy — “We’re starting to see the economy rebound,” he said — and he spoke to the frustrations of the sputtering recovery.
He told the crowd, “We did not realize how long it was going to take. We didn’t realize how profound the nature of the crisis was. … We did not fully comprehend how deep this crisis would be. … But don’t underestimate the nature of the change we’ve made.”
Obama was to travel to Orange County on Thursday morning for more fund-raising, and to San Francisco for a trio of events that were expected to draw donors from Silicon Valley.
Earlier on Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the Obama campaign expected to continue to enjoy support from both the showbiz and tech communities, and are “absolutely committed to working to find solutions to the problem of copyright infringement and intellectual property rights infringement, but we need to do it in a way that doesn’t restrict Internet freedom. We believe that it’s a both/and, not and either/or proposition.”