The White House on Monday defended their decision to schedule an event on the economy at DreamWorks, a film studio whose CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is one of President Obama's major donors.
“Contributing to the president’s campaign or being a political supporter of the president doesn’t guarantee you a presidential visit, but it shouldn’t exclude you from one either,” Earnest told reporters on Air Force One.
“DreamWorks obviously is a thriving business and is creating lots of jobs in Southern California and the fact of the matter is Mr. Katzenberg’s support for the president’s policies has no bearing on our decision to visit there,” Earnest continued.
“Rather, it’s an opportunity to highlight the success of one business and the success that they’re having in creating jobs in Southern California,” he added.
Obama is in California today, delivering a speech on immigration reform and is slated to speak on the economy from the DreamWorks studio on Tuesday. The president will also attend a series of high-profile fundraisers, with top Democratic donors.
Katzenberg was a top bundler for the president’s 2012 re-election effort and also donated $3 million to a pro-Obama super PAC.
In August, Obama held a private dinner with Katzenberg at a Los Angeles hotel.
Earnest said the president regularly spoke from successful businesses around the country, highlighting different industries in each region.
“The fact of the matter is when the president goes to New York to talk about the economy, it's not unusual for the president to speak on Wall Street,” he said. “When the president goes to Detroit to talk about the economy, it's not unusual for the president to appear at an auto manufacturing facility. When the president goes to Northern California to talk about the economy, he'll often speak in a venue that highlights the importance of the technology industry to the regional economy.”
White House correspondent Brian Hughes contributed to this story.