President Obama began the fundraising day on Wednesday by flying to San Francisco (with Giants legend Willie Mays on board Air Force One and at his side) then on down to Los Angeles. He appeared tonight at the LGBT Leadership Council gala at the Beverly Wilshire, where Ellen DeGeneres and "Glee" star Darren Criss provided the entertainment, then at a more private dinner a little ways away in Beverly Hills hosted by "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy and his fiance David Miller. Gay community donors and Hollywood were the strategic targets for this trip. (Criss was a fill-in for Pink, who called in sick.)
Obama is staying not at the Beverly Wilshire but at the Beverly Hilton, a short drive away. On Thursday morning, Obama heads down to View Park in Southwest LA for a fundraising breakfast at the home of Charles and JoAnn Quarles before departing from LAX before noon.
From the Hollywood Reporter tonight:
The Beverly Wilshire gala and subsequent dinner were the largest in a recent series organized on Obama’s behalf by gay rights activists, who have flocked to support him since his forthright endorsement of marriage equality, which many regard as the critical civil rights issue of this era in American politics.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Speaker John Perez attended. Here are some highlights from the pool report provided by Los Angeles Times reporter Kate Linthicum.
Outside the ballroom, volunteers were selling LGBT-themed Obama swag, including a baby onesie that said: "My Two Dads Support Obama." Inside it felt like a nightclub, with dance music and red lighting.
When Obama spoke at the DNC’s LGBT Leadership gala last summer in New York, he was interrupted by hecklers who called for him to take a stand on same-sex marriage. Tonight, nearly a month after he announced his support for gay marriage, he was greeted by a long standing ovation and shouts of “Four more years!”
“Sit down,” he told the crowd. “You’re going to make me blush.”
Obama started at about 7 p.m. with an off-color joke about Ellen DeGeneres and his wife, who recently beat the comedian in a pushup contest on her talk show. He said DeGeneres had complained “that Michelle didn’t go all the way down.”
Here are some highlights from Linthicum's pool report at the Murphy-Miller home.
The dinner was held in the courtyard of their white stucco mansion. Guests sat at small tables lit with candles and set with potted succulents. A fountain bubbled noisily.
A campaign official said Julia Roberts, Resse Witherspoon and Jane Lynch had tickets to the dinner, but I spotted only Witherspoon. According to another official, about 70 people attended the dinner, which cost $25,000 per person.
It was sunset when Obama took the microphone. In a 12-minute speach, he repeated a theme from his earlier remarks at the LGBT gala, saying that the nation's founding fathers have created a framework that has allowed more and more Americans to gain equality over time.
"They created this space where, through successive generations, we could continually broaden the scope of opportunity to more and more people and include more and more people as citizens and recognize each other as part of this American story," he said. "So through civil wars and civil rights, and women's rights and workers rights, there's been this constant battle so more and more people can take part."
The report notes that on the route through residential streets back to the Beverly Hilton, several dozen people on the sidewalks displayed supportive signs.
Photo: Hollywood Reporter