Obama hits up yet another constituency — African Americans — in West Coast swing
LOS ANGELES — The morning after President Obama took what was widely viewed as a victory lap with the gay community, he hit up yet another constituency — African-American supporters — for campaign cash.
Obama attended a fundraising breakfast Thursday at the home of Chuck Quarles in View Park, Calif., greeting 300 people who paid $2,500 and up for the honor. Although the crowd was mixed, the target audience, according to the the Los Angeles Sentinel, was the area’s black political, civic and business elite.
The Sentinel, a local African-American newspaper, calls View Park “the heart” of the region’s black community. Quarles is president of The Bedford Group, which describes itself as “one of Los Angeles’ leading real estate development firms specializing in urban infill development.”
Outside the gated Quarles mansion and a half-block away, hundreds cheered and chanted, with hand-made signs displaying adoring slogans such as ”Obama for Life” and "You Rock Mr. President."
Inside the Quarles home, Obama stuck to his typical stump speech, taking a few swipes at opponent Mitt Romney and explaining that there is a role for government in helping give not a “hand out” but a “hand up.” Republicans, in contrast, are purveying “a vision that basically believes that the answer to every question are more tax cuts for the wealthiest, the most powerful… and that somehow if government isn’t doing anything, then the country’s automatically going to do better,” Obama said, taking his jacket off under the hot sun and urging his supporters to do the same. “It would be one thing if we hadn’t tried this. But we tried this whole recipe, and it didn’t work.”
Obama’s quest for cash comes amid new reports that Romney and the Republican Party outraised him and his party in the month of May.
Romney’s campaign and the Republican National Committee pulled in $76.8 million to their counterparts’ $60 million, according to the respective campaigns.
Both months are the best of the cycle for each candidate and reflect a ramping up with Romney’s status as the all-but-official GOP nominee and Obama’s boost in fundraising from both the gay community and a reported $15 million fundraiser hosted by actor George Clooney.
The Quarles event was the fifth fundraiser of a two-day swing through San Francisco and Los Angeles, the highlight of which was a 600-person gala for the LGBT Leadership Council at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel Wednesday evening.
There, Obama offered his first public embrace to gay supporters since declaring his support for same-sex marriage in a widely promoted television interview last month.
Following remarks by comedian Ellen DeGeneres and a performance by “Glee” star Darren Criss, who plays a gay student on the Fox series, the president had to plead with the audience to sit down after a long and emotional ovation and chants of “Four more years!” Twin screens on each side of the stage displayed huge “Obama Pride” logos.
“The fight on behalf of the LGBT community is part of a broader fight on behalf of all Americans,” the president said. “It’s a part of a history of trying to make this union a bit more perfect.”
Obama touted a list of accomplishments that extend new protections to gays and lesbians, including the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing hospital visitation for same-sex partnership and expanding federal hate-crimes law to include crimes motivated by sexual orientation.
Gay supporters have been a pillar of Obama’s fundraising strength; about one in six top Obama campaign “bundlers,” who amass contributions from others, is gay, according to a Washington Post analysis. But they also have been impatient with his self-described “evolution” on gay marriage. Wednesday represented Obama’s first major outreach to gay and lesbian supporters since he declared that he is now for gay marriage, and they received him enthusiastically.
Obama next heads to Las Vegas, where he will hold an official event Thursday afternoon at which he will urge Congress to help keep student loan rates down.