Power Rangers billionaire and staunch Israel supporter Haim Saban tonight offered strong support to President Obama for his efforts to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his recent initiative in negotiations with Iran. “We’re out of Iraq, we’re out of Afghanistan and the military and intelligence cooperation with Israel — our staunchest ally in the Middle East, arguably in the world, has never been deeper and the president’s commitment to Israel’s security has never been stronger,” Saban said in his introduction to Obama’s remarks tonight at his Beverly Hills home, according to White House pool reports. “And “If Iran is at the negotiating table today, make no mistake about it, it is only because of President Obama’s resolve in striking them with the most crippling sanctions ever.” The event was the second fundraiser of the night for Obama and the first Saban has hosted for the President directly. (He’d hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton last month.) About 120 people attended tonight’s dinner — including Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson, Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer and wife Wendy, and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos — with tickets going for $16,200 each. (Read an edited and condensed version of the White House Pool report and official WH Press Office remarks from both of tonight’s fundraisers below.)
Earlier in the evening, Obama was the headliner at a fundraiser at Magic Johnson’s Beverly Hills house. About 160 people including Samuel L. Jackson and Diane Keaton paid $2,500-$15,000 a ticket hear the commander-in-chief speak at the reception. Tomorrow morning the president will be attending a $32,400-per-guest breakfast event at the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman (take a look at the original invite here). After that, he will visit and give a speech on the economy and the entertainment industry at big donor Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s DreamWorks Animation HQ, as well as meeting with studio bosses. Obama’s Southland visit, his first since August, is partially a makeup for a planned swing in September that was scrapped because of the Syria crisis.
Here are the pool reports:
President Obama addressed a dinner fundraiser for the DSCC and DCCC at Haim and Cheryl Saban’s sprawling Beverly Hills estate at about 9:15 p.m. local.
The dinner was attended by about 120 people who paid ticket prices from $16,200 per person to $32,400 per couple, according to a DCCC official. Speakers included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet, and Cheryl and Haim Saban, according to a DCCC official. Notable attendees included Jacqueline & Clarence Avant, Amb. Nicole Avant & Ted Sarandos; Edythe & Eli Broad; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Berry Gordy; Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson; Jena & Michael King, Wendy & Barry Meyer; Paul Reiser. Additional Senators and Members of Congress expected to attend: Congressman Xavier Becerra, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Adam Schiff, Congressman Brad Sherman and Senator Barbara Boxer.
The dinner was held in a spectacular pitched tent in Saban’s backyard, with shimmering light brown fabric draped down from the center ceiling and four palm tree-inspired chandeliers. The heated tent was bathed in an orange/gold light, with bouquets of pink roses at the round tables and an elaborate fountain was in the middle of the tent.
Haim Saban introduced President Obama with a four-minute speech that needled the commander in chief for the lack of valet parking at the White House.
Saban said, “Last Friday, the president and first lady were very generous and kind with their time, they invited us to the White House for a very small intimate dinner. And we had a wonderful time – great food, great company, very inspiring. No valet parking! You know what? I had to walk to the White House. We have valet parking at the Sabans! So, Mr. President, if you would, please, thank you. Taxpayers’ money? I’ll fund it, no problem.”
Saban then said, “Some so-called fair and balanced media and charmers like Mr. Rush Limbaugh have been having a field day with the technical glitch on the Obamacare website and this has clouded some of the most remarkable achievements of this administration.” Saban went on to mention a few of Obama’s accomplishments “so that you can all see things with perspective without allowing the caffeine that’s in the tea party’s rhetoric to keep us awake at night worrying.”
Saban drew applause from the audience when he mentioned Obama’s record on foreign policy. Saban said, “We’re out of Iraq, we’re out of Afghanistan and the military and intelligence cooperation with Israel – our staunchest ally in the Middle East, arguably in the world, has never been deeper and the president’s commitment to Israel’s security has never been stronger. “If Iran is at the negotiating table today, make no mistake about it, it is only because of President Obama’s resolve in striking them with the most crippling sanctions ever.”
President Obama then spoke for about 14 minutes. He began by saying, “Now, let me clarify something. First of all, there was valet parking – for Cheryl. We thought it was appropriate for Haim to get some exercise. Cheryl, being the wonderful person that she is, declined the valet parking, and so she might have joined him. But I would have been happy to have her drive right up into the South Lawn.” …
“Sometimes it’s bumpy, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes there are setbacks, and that’s ok, because it’s worth it,” Obama said, just before taking questions. …
Obama left Haim Saban’s house about 10:24 pm.
About 7:45 p.m. local, Johnson briefly introduced Obama as “the greatest leader in the world” and highlighted the virtues of “Obamacare.”
Obama spoke on a stage before an American flag and California state flag. According to a DCCC official, there were approximately 160 attendees, with ticket prices ranging from $2,500 per person to $15,000 per person. The audience included such notables as LaTanya & Samuel L. Jackson and Zoe Jackson; Ashley Lewis & Antawn Jamison, Los Angeles Clippers; Diane Keaton; Chelsea & JJ Redick, Los Angeles Clippers; San Francisco Supervisor London Breed. Other notables included Congressman Xavier Becerra, Congresswoman Janice Hahn, Congressman Scott Peters, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, and Congressman Mark Takano. Expected speakers included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet, Cookie and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
President Obama began his remarks noting that David Remnick, the New Yorker editor, has been following him on the trip west and asked him about significance of meeting Magic Johnson.
“First of all, understand that I was a 76ers fan,” Obama said, to boos from the audience.
Still, Obama continued, “For anybody that loves basketball as much as me, there’s nobody who is a bigger icon than Magic Johnson.” … Obama added, “Also keep in mind that the last time Magic played basketball was with me at my 49th birthday party, and I just want to tell ya, it wasn’t pretty.” …
Obama finished his speech by talking about the virtues of team sports. …
The president added: “Part of what made Magic Johnson one of the greatest of all time – there were folks who scored more than he did, there were folks who were faster than he was, but nobody played a team game better than he did. And that’s more than anything what we need right now in this country, a sense that we’re in this together and we’re pursuing this thing, this objective, an America that is more prosperous, more peaceful and is growing, together. That’s what we’re fighting for….I’m very proud of the fact that those values are at the heart of the Democratic Party.”
Obama’s remarks lasted about 20 minutes. He departed Johnson’s home about 8:12 p.m. local for the short drive up the street to Haim Saban’s expansive Beverly Hills estate.