First Lady Michelle Obama, headlining a fundraiser on Wednesday at the Hancock Park home of “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal and his wife Monica Horan, tried to instill a sense of urgency into Los Angeles’ donor base, with control of the Senate at stake.
The event, with tickets starting at $1,000 per person, was to raise money for the Democratic National Committee. Among those attending were Barbra Streisand and her husband, James Brolin, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, along with actors Paul Reiser and Tim Robbins. No total money raised was announced, but a source estimated it between $600,000 and $700,000.
The first lady, per a pool report from the event, said that “if we are truly serious about continuing to move this country forward, then we can’t just sit back and hope for the best and then be surprised and outraged when things don’t work out.”
“We need to be engaged right from the beginning and this is where all of you here tonight come in, this is your part, because there is something all of you can do right now, today, to make a difference…. You can write a check, do you hear me?”
After laughs from the crowd of about 200 people, she added, “That’s what you need to do, I’m serious, write a big fat check. Write the biggest check you can possibly write. I know some of you may be tired of always being asked for money, and I understand, because it’s not always easy to ask you for it. But we do this because writing the checks is the single most impactful thing you can do right now to affect the outcome of those midterms.”
She echoed some of the themes that President Obama laid out in his State of the Union address, including raising the minimum wage and universal preschool, but also talked about reducing gun violence. She cited control of the Senate as well as the possibility of Democrats retaking the House, although that is considered a long shot.
The reception took place in a large courtyard lined with ivy and featuring a large koi pond, and she spoke on a small stage under a tent.
The fundraiser also included a more intimate roundtable discussion, in which a smaller group of about 20 donors met with the first lady, with tickets set at $10,000 per person, according to the invite. A donor who was present said that the hourlong discussion was “very informal,” and topics ranged from healthcare and the first lady’s Let’s Move campaign to the state of arts funding to raising a family while living in the White House.
“This was about engagement, the risk of losing the Senate and the opportunity to regain control of the House and what was at stake if we didn’t,” said the donor. “She really convinced everyone who was there. There wasn’t a person who was there who wasn’t motivated to get going” on the midterms.
Other ticket levels at the event were $2,500 for a photo line and reception for up to two people, $4,000 for a photo line and reception for up to four family members, and $32,400 for all of the events including an intimate gathering with the first lady and other donors.
Obama’s appearance came during a West Coast fund-raising swing, during whis she also taped an interview with Ryan Seacrest that is set to air on Thursday.
The event at the Rosenthals had been scheduled at their home in October, but it was canceled because of the government shutdown.
In November, President Obama trekked to Los Angeles to speak to employees at Dreamworks Animation and to raise money for Senate and House campaign committees, as well as the DNC.
More than a dozen protesters demonstrated outside the event against the administration’s plans for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade pact being negotiated between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries.