Keeping with the hip image that attracted the youth vote during his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama was precluded by the likes of Jason Mraz and Jamie Foxx as he addressed an audience of 2,500 people at Sony Studios in Culver City on Thursday. The event was scheduled as part of a California fundraising campaign that kicked off with a visit to Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., and included another fundraiser at the chic Brentwood Tavern late Thursday night.
“What I want to say before I visit with all of you is how grateful I am. You know, many of you were involved in the 2008 campaign and, let’s face it, it was not likely that I was going to end up in the Oval Office,” Obama said. “And so many of you took this incredible leap of faith, in part because the campaign wasn’t just about me. It was about how we could move the country in a new direction and how could we recapture that sense of community that I think had frayed for too long.”
The President zeroed in on the progress that has been made during the last two plus years but also stressed that “we’ve got so much more work to do.” Along this vein, he emphasized getting the unemployed back to work, the need to grow the economy and reduce the deficit and pass immigration reform, and finding an energy plan that works for everyone.
The President went on to discuss the current campaign issues including the GOP plan to cut Medicare and privatize Social Security.
Before President Obama took center stage, host Jamie Foxx amped up the crowd to chants of “I’m in,” “four more years.” The 2008 campaign favorite “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” played in the background. Other star-studded guests included Rashida Jones on the celeb side and newly elected Congresswoman Karen Bass, who was shaking hands and smiling on the floor of the sound stage.
“I’ve been in office three and half months and I can’t tell you how important it is for us to make sure Obama is re-elected,” Congresswoman Bass said. “We cannot have Medicare ended and Social Security privatized.”
The first small event of the evening was held on the back lot of Sony Studios and was kept to 100 people, for a whopping $35,800 a piece. VIPs who attended the mass rally forked out $2,500, $250 for general admission and the under 40 crowd dished out $100.
From the three events—the duo at Sony and the third in Brentwood—the first $5,000 of the proceeds from the event will go to the election campaign and the remaining amount will go to the Democratic National Committee, according an anonymous spokesperson with the DNC. Ari Sevugnan, National Press Director of the DNC, said that the party will not disclose the exact amount of the proceeds from the event, due electoral competition.
A mere stone’s throw from his speech, several groups gathered to call Obama to honor promises made during his 2008 campaign, including the Dream Act movement, the Armenian Youth Federation and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. Bomb-sniffing dogs skulked through those who were admitted to the campaign event, and police blocked off several Culver City streets.
“When he was running as candidate for President, he made a lot of promises to the Armenian community and to the human rights community that he would speak truthfully on the Armenian genocide and that he would deliver justice on this issue,” said Serouj Aprahaiman, the executive director of the Armenian Youth Federation.
“What happened to his promises for reform for immigration?” Gabriel Ayon said, who was protesting on behalf of the Dream Act movement. “If anything, more people have been deported since Obama’s election.
“We’re trying to figure out is he a man of his word, or is he two-faced?”
Despite the ruckus outside the studio, Obama retained his characteristic calm and positive attitude.
“Thanks in advance for the extraordinary work that you’re going to do over the next 18 months to make sure that we can finish the job that we started, Obama said.