At a small fundraiser Thursday night attended by Hollywood's elite -- Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, and others -- President Obama delivered a re-election pitch that assumed he will in fact win a second term in the Oval Office.
"What we've done has been historic," Obama said, "and we're only a quarter of the way through." Obama has served a little more than half of his term in office; he would be "a quarter of the way through" only if he wins a second term.
Obama made the comment after gently mocking the enthusiasms of some of his most devoted supporters among the Hollywood left. "There have been times I’m sure during the past two and a half years where you’re reading the papers or you’re watching TV and you’re saying, oh, Obama -- why is he compromising with the Republicans?" the president said. "Or, oh, why did health care take so long? And I want a single-payer plan anyway. And golly, if he was just as good a communicator as George Clooney, then I’m sure the American people would understand exactly what needs to be done. Gosh."
The Clooney line "cracked the room up," according to a White House pool report. The fundraiser, which was attended by about 60 people who have donated the legal maximum of $35,800 to the Obama re-election campaign, was held at Tavern Restaurant in Los Angeles' tony Brentwood neighborhood.
As he has in other appearances during his political trip to California, Obama went to some length to remind dissatisfied liberals that he has accomplished a lot as president. Frustration is "understandable," he said, "because there have been times where I’ve been frustrated. But I don't want you to lose sight of how much we’ve gotten done. What we’ve done here has been historic, and we’re only a quarter of the way through."
At another point in his remarks, Obama appeared to blame rising gas prices for his declining job approval rating. "My poll numbers go up and down depending on the latest crisis," Obama said, "and right now gas prices are weighing heavily on people." The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Obama's job approval rating at 45.5 percent approval, and 49.4 percent disapproval. Recent individual polls put Obama's approval rating at 46 percent (CBS/New York Times); 43 percent (Gallup); and 46 percent (Rasmussen). Even a Washington Post/ABC News survey with a very Democratic-friendly poll sample put Obama's approval at 47 percent.
Obama's approval rating was considerably higher in Brentwood Thursday night, and the president was clearly grateful. "A lot of you got involved at a time when the prospect of electing a Barack Hussein Obama to the Oval Office was slim," he told the big donors. "None of you asked for my birth certificate. It was a complete leap of faith."
By the end of the fundraiser, Obama had apparently made progress in re-energizing his Hollywood base. When Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg introduced the president with the exhortation, "Four more years," Obama corrected him by saying, "Technically, it's actually five and a half more years." After Obama's remarks, when the president began to go table-to-table for private conversation with donors, actor Tom Hanks "turned around in his seat and said to his table mates, 'Five and a half more years!'" according to the pool report.