President Obama's flagging popularity took a hit with regular Angelinos on Monday night as his motorcade tied up traffic — but he was a huge draw with Hollywood, which turned out in force at the home of "ER" and "West Wing" producer John Wells for a $1 million Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser.
Arriving at the home of Wells, who is also president of the Writers Guild of America West, Obama was greeted by Hollywood luminaries and some political names including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Labor Secretary Hilda Soliz and the committee’s chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
But outside the walls of Wells' home, L.A. commuters were furious at traffic snarls that held up drivers on the West Side for more than three hours. Many of them weighed in at TheWrap. (And it followed an incident in which Vice President Joe Biden held up traffic at LAX for several hours after a Jay Leno visit.)
Among the event's co-hosts were Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams; DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn; Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg; Barbra Streisand; Warner Bros. President COO Alan Horn and his wife, Cindy; and venture capitalist Tom Unterman and his wife Janet. Neither Streisand nor the Katzenbergs were in attendance.
Also at the Wells event were Taye Diggs and his wife, Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, who sang as part of the event.
Introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and speaking in a walled garden at the home, Obama offered a half-hour unscripted talk, according to a White House pool report. He spoke of the problems that greeted him upon his arrival as president and the importance of keeping the Congress in Democratic hands.
"I hope you understand why we're here tonight,” he said. “It's not to take a picture with the president. We're here to make sure those who took the tough votes are rewarded."
He also said that keeping Congress in Democratic hands would be “my focus over the next several months” and cited the legislative agenda.
"We have been able to deliver the most progressive legislative agenda — one that helps working families — not just in one generation, maybe two, maybe three."
"Even as the other side wants to offer fear, we're going to offer hope," he concluded to loud applause.
The money raised is slated to be used to elect House Democrats this fall. Tickets to the event are $2,500; a commitment as a co-host cost $30,400.
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