Obama heads to California to raise campaign cash from gay supporters
By Felicia Sonmez,
It was at an April organizing event for an Obama campaign fundraiser in Los Angeles that Vice President Biden made the first move toward his public embrace of allowing same-sex couples to wed.
Now, two months later, that Los Angeles event is coming to fruition – and it comes amid a markedly changed environment following the public announcements made last month by Biden, and then President Obama, in support of same-sex marriage.
Wednesday night’s LGBT Leadership Council Gala is the centerpiece of a two-day, five-event fundraising tour Obama is making in California this week. The visit will net the campaign more than $5.5 million, roughly half of which is expected to come from the gala and a private dinner later Wednesday night.
First on the agenda Wednesday afternoon are two stops in San Francisco. Obama will hold an afternoon roundtable at The Landmark at One Market with 25 supporters, with tickets going for $35,800 apiece, according to the Obama campaign. The president will then speak at a luncheon at the Julia Morgan Ballroom, where 250 attendees are expected and the general-admission price tag is $5,000.
Then, Wednesday evening, Obama heads to Los Angeles for the LGBT Leadership Council Gala. Tickets for the sold-out event at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel start at $1,250 per person, and 600 people are expected to attend.
Ellen DeGeneres will deliver remarks and actor Darren Criss, who plays a gay student in the Fox series “Glee,” is expected to fill in for singer Pink, who canceled due to illness.
Criss jokingly tweeted about the event Monday night: “:) So bummed I’ll have to miss my dental appointment to sing for The US President Wed night. thanx @Pink for messin that up!! #greattiming”
After the gala is a private dinner that is expected to draw 70 Obama supporters, with a price tag of $25,000 for individuals. The dinner is being held at the Los Angeles home of Glee creator Ryan Murphy and his fiancee, according to multiple reports.
Then, before moving on to deliver a speech in the key swing state of Nevada, Obama on Thursday morning heads to a fundraising breakfast at home of developer Charles Quarles and his wife Jo Ann in View Park, Calif.; 300 supporters paid $2,500 to attend the event.
Obama last visited Los Angeles for a May 10 fundraiser at the home of actor George Clooney, an event that netted the president an estimated $15 million.
Funds raised at the events will go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fund that includes Obama’s reelection campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties.
Gay supporters have been a pillar of Obama’s fundraising strength – roughly one in six top Obama campaign bundlers is gay, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Wednesday’s events will be worth watching for clues as to how the president’s embrace of same-sex marriage has played out among some of the supporters who have been most vocal in calling on Obama to complete his “evolution” on the issue.
Asked on Air Force One Wednesday whether Obama is a fan of “Glee,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said he wasn’t certain.
“I haven’t heard the president talk about that,” Carney said. “I think he has referenced some of the shows he does watch, so I don’t know -- I don’t know the answer to your question.”