Cashing in on his support of same-sex marriage, President Obama flew to California Wednesday for a fundraiser with gay supporters, one of five events expected to pull in at least $5.3 million.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council Gala featuring Ellen DeGeneres was moved from a smaller venue to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles due to demand for the $1,250 tickets. About 600 people were expected to attend.
A dinner afterward at the home of "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, who is gay, and his fiance, David Miller, was charging $25,000 per ticket for 70 people. "Glee" star Darren Criss, who plays a gay teen on the hit show, was to perform at the larger fundraiser. Both events were sold out.
By the time Mr. Obama departs California Thursday, he will have held 153 fundraisers for his re-election. That's nearly twice as many as Republican President George W. Bush, who had held 86 fundraisers at the same point of his first term. Bill Clinton had 70 events at the same point, and George H.W. Bush held 24.
Wednesday marked the eighth weekday in the past 24 that Mr. Obama devoted to fundraising.
Although comparisons are difficult to quantify, Mr. Obama also appears to be far surpassing previous Democratic candidates for president in his fundraising success with the LGBT community. The LGBT gala is the president's third fundraiser this year directly targeting the LGBT audience.
Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democrats' nominee in 2004, had the support of gay-rights groups — the Human Rights Campaign gave him a 100-percent rating — but he opposed same-sex marriage. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore said he favored civil unions but believed marriage should only involve a man and a woman.
When he arrived in California Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Obama first attended two fundraisers in San Francisco. The first was an event with 25 supporters who each paid $35,800, then a luncheon for about 270 people who paid $5,000 each. Among those at the second event were California Gov. Jerry Brown and baseball legend Willie Mays.
On Monday, Mr. Obama attended three fundraisers on Broadway in New York with former President Bill Clinton. Asked whether the president is worried that attending "glitzy" fundraisers with celebrities sends the wrong message, presidential spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Obama has "vast numbers of small donors."
"That is not the case for the Republican nominee," Mr. Carney said. "And I think that the fact that the president enjoys that kind of support speaks to what his policy priorities are. He's out there fighting for the middle class."
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