If relations between the entertainment industry and the White House have soured of late over SOPA there was no sign of it Thursday as a muscular day of fundraising swept President Barack Obama from Walt Disney World to Spike Lee’s home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to a late night appearance at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.
India.Arie and Al Green opened for the first sitting president to ever speak at the historic site on West 125th Street. Obama delighted the crowd of about 1,400 – a full house — with his own rendition of Green’s Let’s Stay Together and urged them to come out in force for the current campaign with the same passion they had last time around.
“I know these have been three tough years,” he said. “But real change, big change is hard. It takes more than one term. It takes more than a single president.”
He ticked off his accomplishments in office and slammed Republicans for pursuing a single goal — defeating him in November.
“We have the top Republican who says his top priority is beating me. My top priority is getting people back to work,” he said, invoking Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell oft-quoted desire to make Obama a one-term president.
He defended his move to roll back the Bush-era tax cuts “because there are basic investments, basic functions that have to be carried out…We can’t go back to this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics.”
The Apollo tickets started at $100, making it of the President’s more accessible fundraisers.
Earlier in the evening about 40 guests forked out nearly $36,000 each for dinner with Obama hosted by Spike Lee.
The director’s wife Tonya Lewis Lee acknowledged that Lee has been critical of the President at times. But that’s okay, she said, “I’m sure he doesn’t like all of Spike’s movies.”
According to reports from a press pool reporter allowed in, Obama recounted that Spike Lee has long been special to him because he took wife Michelle to see “Do The Right Thing” on their first official date.
“I was showing my sophistication by taking her to a movie by a hot new director,” said the President.
“Good thing you didn’t choose ‘Driving Miss Daisy,'” Spike Lee interjected, cracking himself up, according to the report.
He also attended two fund-raisers at the restaurant Daniel on the Upper East Side. About 100 Jewish supporters who paid at least $5,000 each attended the first event, hosted by former New York Mayor Edward Koch. Some 60 supporters were invited to the second at $15,000 a pop.
Earlier, at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Obama said he looked forward to meeting Mickey Mouse, a world leader who has bigger ears than his.