Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Keys and Vera Wang among celebs in attendance of Harvey Weinstein and Anna Wintour’s Obama fundraiser.
President jokes: Supporters “have still got the Obama poster, it is all frayed. Obama is gray haired, he doesn’t seem as cool.”
Hundreds of people packed the streets of West Village on a fine summer evening and police marksmen stood on rooftops as the President arrived at the residence, a smart, multi-story brick row house, of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Guests, including Gwyneth Paltrow, her husband Chris Martin, Jimmy Fallon, Vera Wang, co-host Anna Wintour, Alicia Keys and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo awaited, sitting round five round tables each holding 10 people in a hot basement room.
The president walked down the stairs into the very intimate setting with a characteristic “Hello, Hello, Hello,” and guests stood to applaud him.
Weinstein said he had been trying to persuade his wife for three years to have a housewarming party and it had taken president to make it happen.
He said that that last year in Martha’s Vineyard the president had asked him if he had any movies and he had given him a rough cut of the “King’s Speech.”
Obama quipped :”It was pretty good.”
Weinstein said this year he would send Obama Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher in the “Iron Lady” to watch on his vacation.
Highlights of POTUS remarks, transcript to come.
The president spoke at the bottom of the stairs, without notes, or a microphone in the small room.
“This is a pretty good looking crowd,” Obama said.
The President talked about how he had been in Michigan earlier, and how he had “jump started” an entire industry in electric batteries for hybrid cars.
“What was remarkable was to see outside of Washington, the enthusiasm, the energy, the hopefulness, the decency, of the American people. 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 president said.
“People understand that this country is going through a fundamental change ..”
He talked about how the challenge of globalization and the global economy was making people realize that they needed to change the way they work, live and play.
“They look at what is happening in Washington and think these folks are from outer space. They don’t seem to understand how critical it is for us to work together.”
“Here is the good news, as frustrating as the past couple of months have been. Washington reached a low water point. The public suddenly realized . we are going to have to get engaged.”
“If that energy is harnessed and tapped I am absolutely convinced this country is going to be on the upswing in the next couple of years.”
He said America could create jobs, educate its kids, free itself from dependence on foreign oil without radical steps. He said great strides had been made with healthcare reform but said there was a lot more work to do.
“I don’t know if you noticed when the stock market went down. What did everybody buy after the downgrade ? US Treasuries.”
“Everybody understands that the United States still has the greatest economic potential,”
“The market voted with its feet.”
“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.
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. Because in 2012. we realize it is about us.. It is not about my election. One person.”
The president also mentioned that on August 28 he will open the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington DC and said he had flown over it already and it looked “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, 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.”