“I want to assure everybody that the likelihood of any epidemic here in the United States is extraordinarily small, but there’s a humanitarian crisis that’s happening right now in West Africa where children not much older, and in some cases younger than, Apple and Moses are dying on the streets alone,” President Barack Obama told Hollywood tonight.
The reference to Apple and Moses in relation to the often fatal disease came as Obama was speaking at their mother Gwyneth Paltrow’s Brentwood home. The remarks about Ebola at the dinner and reception for the Democratic National Committee also came one day after Thomas Duncan became the first American patient to die of the disease. Additionally, the $1,000 to $32,400 a ticket event in Paltrow’s backyard comes after a day of traffic hassles and a town hall in a 24-hour visit to LA by the President. With Julia Roberts and West Wing alumni Bradley Whitford among them, approximately 200 supporters are estimated for the first part of the evening. With tixs starting at $15,000, the more intimate dinner is estimated to include about 50 individuals.
“I am one of your biggest fans, if not the biggest,” the Iron Man actress gushed as she introduced the President to the crowd, according to Pool Reports. “So anyway, I’ll shut up now and just say welcome and thank you and we’re so excited and you’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly,” she added teeneybopper style before giving the floor over to Obama. This is the second time Paltrow has held a campaign event for Obama. Six weeks before the 2012 election, the actress co-hosted an Obama Victory Fund dinner in London with Vogue editor Anna Wintour and designer Tom Ford. Obama, as he noted tonight, was not there for the UK event.
Today’s visit is the President’s 20th trip to the LA area since taking off in January 2009. Of all those trips, only three were not for fundraising purposes. One of the non-cash register visits was Obama’s August 6, 2013 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno appearance and private dinner with DreamWorks Animation boss and major bundler Jeffrey Katzenberg. “It’s great to be back in L.A. Looking around this crowd, I see folks who have been there from Day One, people who supported me before most folks could pronounce my name,” said Obama tonight, rolling out one of his much used lines.
Then again, today’s fundraiser wasn’t actually supposed to happen. A late July event at Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino’s home during Obama’s last visit to LA to hover up Hollywood cash was billed as “the last trip to Los Angeles the President will be making this year.” That of course was before the midterm elections got tighter and tighter for the Democrats. As the GOP trimmed the Dem’s finanicial lead, more money was urgently needed and the Commander-in-Chief got his marching orders to shake the Hollywood money tree again. Long an Obama bastion of support, Tinseltown is actually one of the few places on the campaign trail that the increasingly unpopular President is still welcome.
He is, however, not the only big Democrat who has a busy political calendar. Obama’s trip comes two days after VP Joe Biden was here for a Congressional fundraiser. It also comes just under two weeks before the undeclared frontrunner for the 2016 nomination Hillary Clinton hits the Westside as a part of her midterm surge. With the future in mind, the October 20 event at Brentwood’s Tavern restaurant with the former Secretary of State is co-hosted by the DWA CEO and Casey Wasserman.
The President has another DNC fundraiser scheduled for tomorrow morning at the home of Michael Chow. Similar to the Rapino event in the summer, the fundraiser at the Mr. Chow’s co-founder’s pad will be a roundtable with big donors forking out $15,000 a tix. Obama will then head up to San Francisco to insert his card into that other strong source of Democratic money – the Silicon Valley ATM.
At least when Hillary comes to LA later in the month we won’t have quite the traffic chaos of a Presidential level visit. But there will always be time for that come 2016, if you know what I mean.