Bruised by searing reviews of his debate performance last week, President Obama returned to the embrace of his Hollywood friends this weekend, raising more cash and letting George Clooney, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Elmo comfort him at three events in the final weeks of the campaign.
Punching back against the beating he's taken from pundits after a lackluster response to Mitt Romney at last week's debate, Obama called out the Republican candidate's plan to bury Big Bird and public television.
“Elmo has made a run for the border,” Obama joked.
The president earlier dropped by the Los Angeles home of Jeffrey Katzenberg for a power-huddle with the DreamWorks Animation CEO on Sunday, along with former President Bill Clinton and a group of 12 Democratic donors. The Katzenberg klatsch was the first of three engagements on Obama’s slate that day.
The crowd was considerably larger at the president’s next engagement, "30 Days To Victory," a fund-raising concert at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live, where about 6,000 people turned up to catch POTUS onstage with a heavy-hitting cast of celebrities backing him up.
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The night’s musical acts included Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, Earth Wind and Fire and Jennifer Hudson. Three guest speakers, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and actor George Clooney, also made the trip downtown to rally the audience.
The president thanked his famous supporters as he tooRok the stage at the Nokia, joking that his dance card was so packed for the day that, though his staff caught the musical acts and speeches, he “got left behind.”
Trumpeting his first-term accomplishments – ending the war in Iraq, targeting Osama bin Laden, repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” – Obama pointed to signs of economic recovery, underscored by what he called the lowest unemployment rate (at 7.8 percent) since he took office, and pledged to create jobs, improve schools and “finish what we started in 2008.”
Obama also took the opportunity to knock his opponent, the former Massachusetts Governor Romney, who enjoyed a boost from a victory in the first presidential debate in Denver the previous week.
Casting Romney as an ally to Wall Street and an enemy to Sesame Street, the president once again called out Romney’s proposed crackdown on pubic television -- and on Big Bird and friends. To audience members who booed on cue as he critiqued Romney’s tax plan, the president repeated, “Don’t boo – vote.”
General admission tickets started at $250, and a batch of Gen44 tickets – targeting Obama’s younger boosters – was available at $44 a pop, according to a White House pool report.
Later that evening, the president was due to dine with around 150 guests, each of whom paid $25,000 for the honor, at Wolfgang Puck’s WP24 restaurant on the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, across the way from the concert venue.
Watch Katy Perry's Obama-themed rendition of "Firework" from Sunday's "30 Days to Victory" concert below: