Obama snags $15 million in Hollywood cash

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama is going back to California in early June for at least two more fundraisers, following his $15 million jackpot at actor George Clooney’s house on May 10.

Obama used his brief speech to 150 leaders in Hollywood’s entertainment industry to obliquely remind his audience of his risky May 9 announcement of support for same-sex marriage.

“Yesterday we made some news, but — (applause) — but the truth is it was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be… Are we a country that includes everybody…. Are we welcoming to immigrants?  Are we welcoming to people who aren’t like us?  Does that make us stronger?  I believe it does,” he told the liberal audience, who paid $40,000 a plate.

Obama’s comments could be construed as a broad hint to the very liberal audience that he will use a second term to push for goals that are popular in Hollywood, yet unpopular in the country. Those goals include federal legalization of single-sex marriage, of conditional amnesty for illegal immigrants, and the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

(RELATED: Obama aides downplay gay marriage campaign move)

“I’m not interested in just winning the election; I’m also interested in making sure that we can finish what we started in 2008,” he told the donors, who included studios chiefs, actors and producers. He stayed at the event for the unusually long time of three and a half hours, according to CBS Radio.

Even as Obama reaped financial benefits from his marriage announcement, his aides downplayed the controversial move and said the president’s 2012 campaign would focus on jobs and the economy.

Obama’s record breaking fundraiser comes amid record unemployment, record debt and a stalled economy.

Those issues are being stressed by Gov. Mitt Romney, who told a CBS reporter in Colorado that “I’m not running on marriage and marijuana… Those are state issues, right?”

“Aren’t there issues of significance you would like to talk about?” Romney when the reporter pressed him about marriage and marijuana. “The economy? The growth of jobs? The need to put people back to work? The challenges of Iran?”

At the fundraiser, Obama also acknowledged that his campaign is experiencing difficulties.

“[The 2008 election] in some ways was lightening in a bottle… [it] is not going to be replicated,” he said.

Instead, the “passion that we brought to bear in 2008 is going to have to express itself maybe not in such flashy form, it’s going to have to be steady, but we’re going to have to keep those fires burning all the way through November and beyond.”

Obama tried to blame his low poll numbers on “cynicism.”

“We’re going to have to fight against cynicism and a belief that maybe things can’t happen and maybe the game is rigged, what’s the point.” he declared. “That’s what we’re going to be fighting against this time.”

His May 9 declaration of support for same-sex marriages is expected to boost funding from the entertainment and fashion industries in Hollywood and New York, where many leaders oppose laws that restrict their autonomy.

Many of those rules are broadly popular. Supporters of traditional marriage, for example, have won state-wide ballots in over 30 states. On May 8, marriage supports won 60 percent of the vote in North Carolina for a measure that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Obama has recognized the political risks of promising goals that are popular among wealthy progressives, yet unpopular among most voters.

He hasn’t shut down Guantanamo, nor has he pushed for a law that would grant a conditional amnesty to millions of low-skill illegal immigrants. On May 9, Obama also hedged his support for same-sex marriage by saying it was a matter for the states, that he was motivated by Christianity and that his decision was informed by his meeting homosexual and lesbian couples who are monogamous are raising children.

“I hope you still believe in me,” he told the Hollywood donors at the end of his speech. “I’m as determined as I’ve ever been to make sure that this country stays on the right path — we’re moving forward; we’re not going backwards.”

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