Every president from Kennedy to Clinton stayed at least once at the Beverly Hilton, the hotel says, and it's where President Obama checked in before tonight's Democratic fundraiser. By flying over much of the Westside to Cheviot Hills, then taking the short jaunt up through Century City to the hotel, he cut out many miles of potential traffic mayhem on this trip. Maybe they have finally found a way around the Obamajam problem. From the Beverly Hilton it's just a short trip into Holmby Hills for the fundraiser. And for the Hilton, of course, it marks some moving on from the Whitney Houston death over the weekend.
Obama had stayed at the Beverly Wilshire on his recent fundraising trips into Los Angeles. [Clarifying: But he had used the Beverly Hilton on some previous trips, including last April and August 2010. Changed the headline above to make that clear and added some links]
The Hilton was the western White House for President John F. Kennedy when he was president - in those days the helicopter would land in the parking lot of the Robinsons store next door or at Beverly Hills High School, the hotel says. The Beverly Hilton was also the site of the first Grammy Awards (Ella Fitzgerald was the big winner that year), and the site of the first Golden Globes. Isn't it also where John Edwards was caught leaving Rielle Hunter's room?
Tonight, Obama took the stage about 6:30, following the Foo Fighters and remarks by comedian Jack Black and actress Rashida Jones. The president was introduced by Colleen Bell, co-host with husband Bradley Bell. Obama remarked on the chilliness of the weather and chided the Angelenos that it wasn't really cold. He also gave a shout out to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for being named chair of the Democratic convention this summer in Charlottte.
After speaking for about 20 minutes to the crowd numbering about 1,000, according to a Democratic Party official, Obama went inside the house for a more intimate gathering of about 80 that included actors George Clooney and Jim Belushi. The president again noted the presence of Villaraigosa.
End of night update: Obama left the Bells for the Beverly Hilton at 9:15 p.m., per the White House press pool report.