President Obama arrived at LAX a little after 1 p.m., took the helicopter to the Rancho Park recreation center landing zone, then was driven via motorcade across Beverly Hills to the Trousdale Estates home of DreamWorks Animation chief — and major Obama campaign check bundler — Jeffrey Katzenberg. That event was described by the Obama campaign as a thank you for big-dollar Hollywood supporters of the president's campaign. The pool press was kept in the garage (with the Nissan Leaf), but former President Bill Clinton was reportedly at the confab along with a dozen unnamed big Democratic donors.
"Two campaign finance committee members told THR that they were kept out of the loop on the closed-door event because it involved the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA," the Hollywood Reporter reported. "A campaign spokeswoman, however, flatly denied that the meeting involved the super PAC." The PAC, of course, is supposedly independent and free from the contribution limits that rule donations to a candidate's campaign. Katzenberg gave $2 million in seed money to the super PAC, THR says.
Obama's scheduled reason for the trip is a fundraising concert tonight at LA Live's Nokia Theatre, followed by a high-roller dinner in the Ritz-Carlton next door. On Saturday, THR's Tina Daunt wrote a piece saying the agenda of Los Angeles trip had taken on a new edge in the wake of Obama's blundering performance at the Denver debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. "The long scheduled visit has acquired another, equally urgent purpose—reassuring his Hollywood supporters that he's fighting to win the race and he's poised for a comeback in the next televised forum with former Gov. Mitt Romney," Daunt says.
There’s also no doubt that the president’s Hollywood supporters were deeply shaken by his lackluster performance in this week’s debate with Republican nominee Romney.
“Everyone is in shock,” said one long-time Democratic activist. “No one can understand what happened.”
At the very least, several longtime Obama supporters told THR, the chief executive should expect some directorial notes on how to tailor his performance to television’s split screen. “Everyone with a connection to the president is reaching out to him,” said another veteran Dem. “At the end of the day, the best coach he has is himself.”
The cloud of anxious fallout from Denver has all but overshadowed what otherwise would be considered a particularly glittering and gala L.A. appearance for Obama. His Sunday evening will kick off with a concert at downtown L.A.’s Nokia Theater featuring Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Earth Wind and Fire, and Jon Bon Jovi. Presidential pal [George] Clooney will make a special appearance to introduce Wonder. Afterward, Obama will head next door for a $25,000-per-plate dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s chic WP24. Both events were sold out before the debate. The two events could easily raise more than $5 million for the president's reelection campaign.
Obama is supposed to arrive at the Nokia Theatre event about 6 p.m. Traffic plans have called for temporary closures of Motor Avenue, parts of the 10 freeway into downtown and streets around LA Live. They will do it all in reverse tonight. Then in the morning, traffic closures are expected in the Century City area. It was nice for once to have the presidential traffic snarls mostly on a weekend, but there could be some Obamajam activity for Monday morning commuters who use Avenue of the Stars and Pico. One break: it's Columbus Day so some people will be off work.
Clinton will be staying for a Monday morning fundraiser in Pacific Palisades. Obama heads to the Tehachapi foothills east of Bakersfield to officially announce national monument status for the Cesar Chavez compound in Keene. Then he has a full slate of Bay Area fundraisers.
LA Observed photo: Ritz-Carlton and Marriott at LA Live