President Obama went from the heartland to the high-rent district Thursday.
After delivering a pointed speech at an auto-parts factory in Holland, Mich., the president traveled to Manhattan, to the West Village row house of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, for a high-end fundraiser costing
$38,000 $35,800 a head.
Guests included actress Gwyneth Paltrow, her musician husband Chris Martin, late-night host Jimmy Fallon, designer Vera Wang, fashionista Anna Wintour, singer Alicia Keys and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
After Obama arrived to greet the guests, who were seated at small tables in a warm basement room, Weinstein explained that he had been trying to persuade his wife for three years to have a housewarming party and now it was happening because of the president.
Last year during the president’s vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Weinstein told the crowd, he gave Obama a rough cut of the “King’s Speech.”
”It was pretty good,” Obama remarked.
The moviemaker then said he would send Obama a copy of Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher in the “Iron Lady” to watch on his vacation at the end of the month.
While his Republican presidential rivals debated in Iowa, the president told his supporters that he had come from an appearance earlier Thursday talking about creation of green jobs at the factory in Michigan.
“What was remarkable was to see outside of Washington, the enthusiasm, the energy, the hopefulness, the decency, of the American people,” Obama said. “What I said to them is, ‘you deserve better than you have been getting out of Washington over the last two and a half months, for that matter for the last two and a half years.’ ”
The first $5,000 of the entry fee for the fundraiser will be allocated to Obama’s 2012 campaign, and the rest goes to the Democratic National Committee.
On the political partisanship and gridlock in Washington, Obama said: “When I ran in 2008, I think that a lot of folks thought, ‘you elect Obama, and suddenly you can fix politics in Washington.’ We are a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with me, not everybody agrees with folks who live in Manhattan.…Democracy is messy and is tough and our system is broken. That makes this election more important than 2008.”
Speaking of himself in the third person, he riffed on people being deflated, and not being sure if they wanted change: “They have still got the Obama poster, it is all frayed. Obama is gray-haired, he doesn’t seem as cool.”
“In some ways that is a healthy thing,” he continued. “Because in 2012… we realize it is about us. It is not about my election. One person.”
The president added that on August 28 he will open the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, and told the crowd that the memorial looks “spectacular.”
“Now that King has his own memorial on the Mall, I think that we forget--when he was alive, there was nobody who was more vilified, nobody who was more controversial, nobody who was more despairing at times,” the president said. “There was a decade following the great successes of Birmingham and Selma which was just struggle.
“What he understood, what kept him going was that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. But it doesn’t bend on its own… it takes time, and it is hard work and it has its frustrations.”