Barack Obama and George Clooney’s friendship came through in a virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden, a 45-minute event Tuesday in which they traded a few jokes and talked of the urgency of defeating Donald Trump.
Obama and Clooney appeared via Zoom at their own homes, and spent a good share of the time making the case for Biden, characterizing the former vice president as a figure who could restore government and “pass the baton forward” on issues like climate change and racial justice, according to a source who viewed the event.
But there also were humorous moments, as when Obama’s remarks were interrupted by dog barking, reflecting a problem that has become ever too common for many people on Zoom calls. Then Clooney apparently had the same problem and muted himself. According to event attendees, after the former president asked him a question, Clooney apologized for it and joked that his dogs “must be Tea Party members because every time you started talking about Obamacare” the barking would start.
The event, billed as a virtual conversation between Clooney and Obama, drew a few thousand donors, with tickets starting at $250 per person and topped off at $250,000, for those who contributed or raised that amount.
According to another source on the call, at one point during the event, Clooney went through a list of how Biden has treated various issues versus how Trump has — i.e., the former cares about Black Lives Matter and the latter has treated protesters as a terrorist organization. Trump has attacked the unrest as the work of Antifa.
Obama and Clooney also talked about Biden’s empathy and decency, as many of his supporters often cite in making the case for his candidacy, while pointing to his experience in government as an asset in knowing how to move policies forward. There also were some specific criticisms of Trump and his administration, including for cuts to the civil service workforce at the State Department and for the “unraveling” of geopolitical relationships, sources said. Clooney has been a human rights activist on issues such as the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Obama also urged those on the call that even though Biden was doing well in the polls, that should not be taken for granted. He made a similar warning in a virtual fundraiser that he had with Biden in June.
Clooney endorsed Obama in his first presidential run, and held a fundraiser at his Studio City home for the president’s reelection campaign in 2012.
The event started with a question of what book each one of them is reading. Clooney answered that he was reading the Constitution. Obama said that he was in the final edits of his own book, but did say that he was catching up on some of Clooney’s movies, including the Ocean‘s series and Out of Sight. But, Obama said, he skipped Batman Forever.
Others on the call shared photos on Twitter.