Pool Reports of Obama’s California Trip

President Obama’s third and final fundraiser of the evening was a star-studded dinner in a small room at Tavern restaurant in Brentwood.

Speech was mostly the same stuff – altho he suggested gas prices are to blame for his lower poll numbers, said the budget debate crystallizes what 2012 will be about, and made a birther and a George Clooney joke.

Among the 60 or so donors in attendance were Steven Spielberg, Will Farrell, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, and George Clooney.

POTUS introduced by Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

“We all feel very lucky to have you as our president,” Mr. Katzenberg said. “Four more years.”

“Thank you Jeffrey. Technically it’s actually five and a half years,” POTUS said.

He thanked the donors for being early supporters and made a birther joke.

“A lot of you got involved when the prospect of electing Barack Hussein Obama to the Oval Office was slim. None of you asked for my birth certificate,” POTUS said, drawing laughter. “It was a complete leap of faith.”

POTUS singled out California Gov. Jerry Brown and Nicole Avant, the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas.

“It’s a nice gig isn’t it?” he said to Ms. Avant, who was seated at one of the two tables closest to him down front.

Mr. Clooney was also at that table, and POTUS worked him into his remarks, too.

He said there’s “a lot of revisionist history going on right now” about how easy the 2008 campaign was. He acknowledged Democratic angst.

“We just started, and we’ve got a lot more work to do. And there have been times I’m sure during the past two and a half years where you’re reading the papers or your watching TV and you’re saying, ‘Ah, Obama, you know, why’s he compromising with the Republicans?’ Or ‘Aw, why did health care take so long? and I want single payer plan anyway’ and ‘Golly, you know, if he was just as good a communicator as George Clooney, I’m sure the American people would understand exactly what needs to be done,'” POTUS said.

This cracked the room up. Then POTUS went back to being serious.

“That’s understandable because there’ve been times when I’ve been frustrated,” POTUS said. He told them

“What we’ve done here has been historic and we’re only a quarter of the way through,” he said.

Mr. Obama said the current budget debate in Washington “crystalizes” the debate he’ll be having in the 18 months until November 2012.

That debate will be about values and “about who we are,” he said.

He suggested his poll numbers are dipping because of rising gas prices.

“My poll numbers go up and down depending on the latest crisis and right now gas prices are weighing heavily on people,” he said.

People are too busy to be paying attention to squabbles in Washington, he said, adding, “If I wasn’t professionally in this, I wouldn’t be following all of these debates in Washington.”

He closed with a pitch about the campaign being about more than him and continuing beyond his time in office.

Pool was ushered out as POTUS began to go table to table.

As we exited Tom Hanks turned around in his seat and said to his table mates, “Five and a half more years!”

Overall the event’s setting was pretty simple – six round tables with about 10 chairs each. Lighting was dim, candles and bottles of wine on the tables. The walls were bare. It smelled like sewage outside the room.

Some seating arrangements in the room:

David Plouffe sat next to Will Farrell and leaned across the table to shake hands with Governor Brown. Jay Carney next to Steven Spielberg.

Correx to quote in last pool report, although check against transcript. After the audience member shouted about needing his leadership, POTUS said, “I’m going to give it but I’m going to need yours as well.” Not I’m here – that shouldn’t have been in quotes.

We’re holding at a coffee shop that’s playing nonstop Elvis.

Second fundraiser speech was much the same as the one last night. Some highlights and sightings:

The audience shouted “Four more years! Four more years!” and President Obama joked, “Actually technically it’s more like five and a half.”

Someone fainted during POTUS’s remarks. “Give them some room,” POTUS said, calling for the medics and saying the person probably just needed air or some juice.

POTUS went on a bit of a rant about taxes, how he cut them in 2009 and again last fall with the payroll tax part of the deal with Republicans – and explaining why he wants wealthier Americans to pay more.

“Nobody here is just loving taxes,” POTUS said. “I just paid my taxes.”

POTUS was going on about the things he’s gotten done when someone in the audience shouted, “We need your leadership.”

“I’m right here but I’m going to need yours as well,” he replied.

He talked about how some Democrats are frustrated with him. He mimicked what some of them say, “I don’t like that compromise with the Republicans. … Health care took so long.”

He joked about his age, which he has done regularly this entire trip, saying those Democrats are like, he’s older and not so fresh.

Earlier in the speech when he was remarking on his gray hair, someone shouted that gray was OK.

“I’m gonna let Michelle know you said it’s OK,” POTUS said. “Folks here in Hollywood can go gray for a part.”

When he stopped speaking, “Your Love Is Lifting me Higher” started playing on the sound system and POTUS shook hands.

Dem official says before pool arrived Jamie Foxx emceed, Rashida Jones spoke, Jason Moraz performed and a choir from a public schoool in South LA sang.

Jamie Foxx and Rashida Jones were among a small group of VIPs that were standing in an area on the floor next to the stage. A couple White House staffers were mingling with them, including Jay Carney and Jon Favreau.

Motorcade left Sony complex at 8:05 pm local and arrived at third fundraiser – another small dinner – at 8:18.

Motorcade left the part of the Sony complex where the first fundraiser was held at 7:15 pm local. Arrived at next fundraiser, a Gen44 event, a minute later.

AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long was playing on the sound system, but was changed to U2 as President Obama was announced and took the stage.

It is POTUS’s lucky night because the stage he’s speaking on was recently used for filming Spider-Man 4, which is officially called The Amazing Spider-Man.

Pool got that and some other fun-facts from former deputy White House press secretary Jim Kennedy, who is now executive vice president for global communications for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The stage was also used for parts of many movies, including Cast Away, Men in Black 2, Iron Man 2, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, The Ring, The Dirty Dozen, Benjamin Button, several Spider-Mans and many of Esther Williams’ films.

It has a very large water tank underneath it – 90 feet x 100 feet; 12 feet deep and holds 721,400 gallons of water and has a 20-foot plunge pit in the center.

En route to the Gen44 event site, motorcade rolled by the site where Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are taped, and Stage 15 where the Wizard of Oz was filmed.

POTUS’s remarks are open press.

First fundraiser – not much new. POTUS told donors 2012 will just as hard if not harder than 2008, he boasted about his Chicago campaign headquarters, and apparently he’s into Spider-Man. Quotes below…

President Obama was introduced by John Emerson of Capital Group. “I have a tough job tonight and that is to introduce to you the man who in the last two years brought the economy back from the brink, provided health care for 34 million Americans, ended the war in Iraq and restored America’s reputation abroad,” he said, winding up the guests, who were applauding by the time he got to Iraq.

Some other people in the room: Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, Dennis Haysbert – the Allstate guy or president from 24, depending on your frame of reference – Berry Gordy, Eli Broad and Amy Pascal.

There were six tables with about eight people at each. POTUS entered the small room with the co-chairs, Mr. Emerson and Ken Solomon, chief executive of the Tennis Channel, who earlier referred to POTUS as “our fearless leader.”

Donors at three of the tables had an administration official seated with them – Valerie Jarrett, Jay Carney or David Plouffe. Former White House political director Patrick Gaspard was seated at a fourth table. They were chatting with guests and presumably warming the bench for POTUS, who said he was going to work the room, go table to table so the contributors could look under the hood, kick the tires and give him political advice.

Mr. Obama spoke for about 5 minutes.

He said he was grateful “to Ken and John for agreeing to take on the tough task of co-chairing our finance committee here in California. They have been great friends and great supporters from the get-go.”

He joked that he didn’t know Mr. Emerson was such a great with introductions. “I might have to take him on the road.”

He thanked Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal for letting him use their space.

“I know they’re incredibly busy. I was just hearing about Spider-Man 4, so I’m all psyched up about that. Seriously, I’m very big on Spider-Man.”

“I also want to scknowledge a wonderful public servant, one of the finest mayors in the country – Antonio Villaraigosa,” he said of the mayor.

“We set this up so I am going to go from table to table and you guys can poke me and prod me, and lift the hood and kick the tires and give me what I’m sure will be wonderful advice,” he said to laughter. “Because looking around this room, this is not a shy group.”

He told them how grateful he is for their support, particularly when he was an up-and-comer.

“Let’s face it, it was not likely that I was going to end up in the Oval Office. It was possible but not likely. And so many of you took an incredible leap of faith in part because the campaign wasn’t just about me. It was about how we could move the country in a new direction. And how could we recapture that sense of community that I think had frayed for too long and prevented us from dealing with so many challenges that we face.”

“As John said we made incredible progress over the last two and a half years. But we’ve got so much more work to do.”

“There’s a still a lot of folks hurting out there. We’ve got to put people back to work. We’ve got to grow the economy. We’ve got to reduce the deficit. We’ve got to pass immigration reform. We’ve got to have an energy plan that works for all Americans. And that’s before I start talking about international affairs.”

“So my inbox keeps filling up, but I welcome the challenge because I know that I have all of you behind me. I just want to remind you as we are going around to the tables that this is going to be just as hard if not harder than 2008. And I’m going to need all of you just as engaged, just as motivated, and taking as much ownership over the campaign as you did then. That’s part of what made 2008 special was – you owned it.”

“It wasn’t just top down,” he said. “That’s part of the reason why our campaign is going to be in Chicago. First time in modern history that a president hasn’t had his campaign office run out of Washington. Because I never want to lose touch. I never want to lose that sense that – what this about is not simply maintaining a status quo, but it is about how do we bring about the changes that are going to make a difference in people’s lives,” POTUS said.

He thanked everyone for coming.

“Thanks in advance for the extraordinary work that you are going to do over the next 18 months to make sure that we can finish the job that we started,” he said “And with that, let me join you all at the tables.”

And with that, pool was ushered out of the room and is holding in a coffee shop nearby.

Motorcade was left the Beverly Hilton at 5:19 pm local and arrived at the fundraiser Commissary Restaurant on the Sony complex at 5:32.

Lots of people out along the route. Few signs along the way: “Go Solar” and “Dump Obama” and “Montessori for every child”

A bunch of school kids were outside at one pt, with one holding a sign: “Punahou grad for Obama”

There was a large demonstration on a side street near the complex but it was kept at a distance, a block or so away. A dozen or show police were walking along the route nearby the event.

The spiel from a Democratic source:

The President will be attending three events in the Los Angeles area tonight with fundraising components. There will be a dinner and an event at Sony Pictures Studios and a dinner at Tavern Restaurant following the two Sony Pictures Studios events. All proceeds will go to the Obama Victory Fund. The events are designed to include the broad range of the President’s supporters with tickets starting at $100 and ranging to the legal maximum limit of $35,800. The dinners will have over 100 guests combined and the larger Sony Pictures Studios event is expected to have approximately 2500.

Special guests at the larger Sony Pictures Studios include Jamie Foxx.

AF1 was wheels down in Los Angeles at 2:26 pm local.

President Obama exited a few minutes later and boarded Marine One.

Pool boarded Black Hawk helicopters.

As your pooler scooted over a seat to make room for NPR’s Ari Shapiro, a member of the military crew on our helo exclaimed: “Is that Ari Shapiro?! I love your s—!”

Pool helos were wheels down in a soccer field at Barrington Recreation Center at 2:46 pm.

Marine One was wheels down two minutes later and POTUS got in the presidential limo.

Ar 2:53 pm motorcade was rolling through a residential neighborhood. Some onlookers gathered along the way, snapping photos and waving.

A nun in full habit stood along the curb holding a sign above her head that said “God Bless you”

Further down the road, a bunch of little kids were jumping up and down and waving miniature American flags. A young woman held a sign that said, “I (heart) you Obama”

Motorcade passed a gas station where was selling for $4.19 a gallon and a Chevron where it was $4.35.

Motorcade arrived at the Beverly Hilton at 3:02 pm.

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