President Obama, appearing at a fundraiser before about 200 people at the Brentwood-area home of Gwyneth Paltrow, including Julia Roberts and Bradley Whitford, implored Democratic donors to feel a sense of urgency about the upcoming midterm elections.
According to a pool report from the event, he even talked about Democrats’ “congenital disease.” “A, we get depressed too easily, and B, we’re terrible at paying attention to midterm elections,” he said to the crowd gathered on white folding chairs in Paltrow’s backyard.
“When there’s no a president on the ballot, we tend to get complacent,” he said. “We can’t afford to get complacent right now.”
The event, with tickets starting at $1,000 per person, was raising money for the Democratic National Committee. others who attended included Clarence Avant and Steve Westly, as well as advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Simas.
Paltrow, joined by her children Apple and Moses, said she was one of the president’s “biggest fans, if not the biggest,” and cited his efforts for sustainable energy and his push for equal pay. The latter, she said, was “very important to me as a working mother.”
As she turned the microphone over to him, she quipped, “you’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly.”
Obama spoke about troubles overseas in Russia, Iraq and Syria, as well as efforts to fight the ebola epidemic. He cited the improving economy, with a record 55 months of uninterrupted job growth,and that “there is almost no economic measure by which we’re not better off than we were when I came into office.” But “people remain anxious about the future,” he said.
“Most of the gains in our economy go to the folks who are in this lovely yard — and the average person has not seen their wages or incomes go up in the last 20 years,” he said. He called for raising the minimum wage, closing the pay gap between men and women and investing in infrastructure.
He said that it is a “narrow ideological band of folks in the Republican Party that have taken over and are saying no to everything.”
About 50 donors were to attend a more intimate dinner with the president, with tickets as high as $32,400 per person. Obama took questions on Iraq and Syria, among other topics, as guests ate long communal tables fitting a couple dozen each, according to a source who attended.
In his remarks to the larger crowd, Obama also blamed the partisan media in part for what he said was “such a cynical time.”
“Each side of the political divide gets its information from different sources, and we only listen to folks who feed our biases and our inclinations,” he said. “And bad news tends to attract the most attention.”
“I hope that in these midterms you feel a sense of urgency about this — and I’m talking to you Democrats,” he said.
The event drew fears of traffic snarls, but residents in the area said that tieups were largely confined to the area on Sunset Boulevard near Mandeville Canyon.
Paltrow last hosted an event for Obama in London, where she drew ex-pats living in the city donating to his 2012 reelection campaign.
“Even though I couldn’t go, I wanted to go, but they said there are no voters that I can knock on doors in London,” Obama said.