In a Tinseltown love-in at George Clooney’s Hollywood Hills home, the U.S. president praised his host’s support for liberal causes but also gently teased the A-list actor and Democrat supporter.
“Obviously yesterday, we made some news,” he joked about his public endorsement of gay marriage Wednesday.
“But the truth is it was the logical extension of what America’s supposed to be. It grew directly out of this difference in visions. Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly,” he said.
“Does that make us stronger? I believe it does,” he said to applause at the dinner in a party tent on Clooney’s basketball court, beneath the trees of the wooded hillside property.
Obama’s campaign has contrasted Obama’s newly evolved position on the issue with Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who opposes gay marriage.
The issue was especially resonant in California, where many famous actors and actresses support legalizing gay marriage.
Barbra Streisand, Salma Hayek, Tobey Maguire and Jack Black were among the high-profile stars who dined at tables set up on Clooney’s basketball court.
Dubbed “Starmageddon,” the event at the Oscar-winning star’s mansion, which united Hollywood glitz and Washington power, was aimed at swelling Obama’s campaign coffers six months before he asks voters for a second term.
Around 150 well-heeled guests paid $40,000 a ticket to get into the exclusive soiree, the latest in a string of big money events as Obama builds an expensive campaign machine for his re-election and buys top dollar advertising slots.
Obama’s campaign revved up supporters with teasers about Clooney, encouraging fans to donate as little as $3 online for a chance to dine with the Oscar-winning actor and the president in Los Angeles.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation and a major fundraiser for Obama’s campaign, said the Clooney event raised nearly $15 million for Obama and his fellow Democrats. A campaign official declined to confirm that figure.
“We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George. They like me, they love him. And rightfully so,” Obama said.
Obama noted that a now-famous “Hope” poster with his image from the 2008 presidential campaign was based on a photograph of both Obama and Clooney.
“This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been photo-shopped out of a picture,” he said. “Never happened before, will never happen again.”
Obama has spent months raising money for his re-election to build a huge war chest to fight Romney for the White House in the November 6 election.