Among those who attended were director J.J. Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath, actress Laura Innes, Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger, HBO’s Mike Lombardo and partner Sonny Ward, and Haim Saban. Also present were Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.).
The event took place just as there a shooting incident occurred at Santa Monica College, about three miles away. With police swarming the area, Obama’s motorcade was rerouted from the area, but a Secret Service spokesman said it did not otherwise impact the visit. Later reports were of a shooting spree by an unidentified suspect, which may have started at a private home near the campus. Authorities say that six people were killed, in addition to the gunman.
With about 135 people in attendance, Obama was introduced by Peter Chernin, and Obama called he and his wife “longtime supporters, back when a lot of people couldn’t pronounce my name.” He also cited their work for “many good causes,” including Megan Chernin’s work on education in Los Angeles.
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Obama, in fact, devoted much of his remarks to education, but he also used the occasion to note government gridlock “that makes it difficult to make common cause and make common-sense, smart decisions.” He said that “every time I see that opportunity to work with Republicans, I will seize it,” noting that he hopes to get cooperation on his early childhood education initiative and infrastructure funding, which “traditionally have not been ideological issues.” However, he noted, “contradictions right now in the Republican Party” are making it hard to get things done.
Chernin did note “donor fatigue”: memories of last year’s nonstop pace of fundraising are still on many minds. “On the other hand, we don’t have time to be fatigued because we have too much to do,” Obama told the crowd.
Obama flew from Los Angeles to Palm Springs on Friday afternoon, for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jingping at Sunnylands, the former home of Walter Annenberg.