President Obama partied with the stars in Beverly Hills on Monday night to raise cash for the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is off to a running start for 2014, though, raising $4.8 million in October in its best off-cycle month ever and outpacing the National Republican Senatorial Committee by a cool million.
In a tent on the grounds of Magic Johnson’s mansion, the former Lakers star hailed Obama as “the greatest leader in the world.”
With ticket prices between $2,500 and $15,000 a head, the crowed included Samuel L. Jackson and Diane Keaton along with some L.A. Clippers players and members of Congress.
“Magic has become our prime example of somebody who was blessed with incredible fame and fortune from a sports career and understood his next step is to build institutions and businesses, and employ people, and go into communities that folks said weren’t worth anything and suddenly find that they’re worth a whole lot if somebody is willing to invest in them,” Obama said, noting that the two last met on the basketball court for Obama’s 49th birthday “and I just want to tell you it wasn’t pretty.”
Obama said after “hard, tough questions” they know which policies work, and “what’s stopping us is a failure of our politics and a lack of ambition.”
“And we shy away from what might be hard. And our politics all too often encourages people to think selfishly or short term. And that’s what the debate in Washington is about and that’s what the debate in this country generally is about right now,” he said.
At the home of entertainment industry heavyweight Haim Saban (producer of Power Rangers and chairman of Univision), Obama sat down for dinner with people paying $16,200 each.
Attendees included Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, philanthropist Eli Broad and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Obama told this crowd that he’s “as proud as I’ve ever been” about Obamacare.
“And I think it’s fair to say I’m not happy about the fact that we didn’t have a website that worked on the day it was supposed to work — although it’s actually starting to work pretty well now and it’s going to be working even better in the coming weeks,” he said, adding that he didn’t need a good headline on Obamacare as the program itself “vindicates a core value that I believe in and that we, as Americans, should believe in.”
“I’ve also said we cannot accept Iran having a nuclear weapon,” he acknowledged. “But I spend too much time at Walter Reed, looking at kids, 22, 23, 24, 25 years old, who’ve paid the kind of price that very few of us in this room can imagine on behalf of our freedom not to say I’m going to do every single thing that I can to try to resolve these issues without resorting to military conflict.”
“…This is not politics; these are not games. And the stakes are extraordinarily high. And we make decisions like the one we made, we don’t make them based on political expedience; we don’t make them on the basis of what might make a good headline today or tomorrow. But we make them on the basis of our judgment — my judgment — about what we need to do to keep America safe. It is the single, most solemn responsibility I have as President of the United States.”
Unlike other parts of his speech, Obama was not interrupted by applause when explaining his decisions on Iran. His host, Saban, is an Egyptian-born Israeli.
Today the president attends a DNC event in L.A., tours DreamWorks Animation, and meets with film industry executives.