President Obama tried to convey a more fighting spirit to a crowd of about 1,000 at the House of Blues, but his speech at the fundraiser was stopped as a heckler tried to shout him down and was escorted out.
The man was front and center in the crowd at the start of Obama’s remarks. As the president started speaking, the man shouted “a Christian God is the one and only true living God.” Obama stopped, and the man continued before Secret Service agents began escorting him out.
The president spotted a jacket near the stage and asked, “Is that his jacket?” The crowd began to drown him out with chants, but Obama said, “Make sure he gets his jacket.” But then he said that the jacket belonged to a woman. “Someone’s car keys are in there…We’re having all kinds of confusion here…Don’t leave your jacket around like that.”
The man screamed “Obama is the antichrist!” as he was dragged out past the bar and through the back entrance, and then the president began to speak again.
His speech echoed themes he has made elsewhere on his fundraising swing, including the need for the rich to pay their “fair share” and more strident rhetoric against Republican opposition.
“It’s not class warfare,” Obama said. “If asking a billionaire to pay the same rate as a plumber, then sign me up.” The line drew some of his biggest applause. Obama also talked about health care reform as one of his accomplishments, and one man shouted, “Don’t forget medical marijuana.” Obama responded, a bit at a loss, “Thank you for that.”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family” was the emcee for the evening, with entertainment from hip hop artist B.o.B and the Gay Men’s Chorus.
Ferguson called the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “the signature achievement of our time.” Obama returned the compliment, saying that his wife and daughters “love” “Modern Family.”
With donors paying a minimum of $250 per person, the event was just as much about energizing his supporters as it was building campaign coffers.
“There’s too much assurance within the Democratic party that he is going to get reelected,” said Alex Wilkinson, 21, a UCLA political science major who is volunteering for the campaign as he did in 2008. “It’s not the same energy. It’s there, but I think it needs to get back to the level that it was in 08.”
He said that some remarks Obama made at the event “showed that he was aggressive in a way he hasn’t been since the beginning of his presidency. I think he can be aggressive and still be the middle man that he is known for at the same time.”
Alan Weiner, a retired member of the clergy who is volunteering as a regional field organizer, “I was thrilled by what he said. He was showing a fighting spirit and he was standing up and clarifying what he and our country stand for.”