Making his second fundraising trip to Los Angeles inside of a month, President Barack Obama told a Hollywood crowd gathered at producer James Lassiter's Hancock Park house on Monday evening that his reelection campaign "will not be as sexy as the first one."
"Back then it was still fresh and new," Obama told the small dinner crowd, which included actor Will Smith and former Laker Magic Johnson. "I didn't have any gray hair. Everybody loved the 'Hope' posters and all that. This time it's - we've got to grind it out a little bit.
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"We've got to grind it out. But the cause is the same. And my passion is the same. And my commitment is the same.''
Obama's comments went to the heart of what a number of his Hollywood supporters have been complaining about recently -- that he's not showing enough fight. On Friday, actress Kathy Bates told CNN's Piers Morgan that Obama needs to "stand up on his hind-legs and fight these rat bastards" on Wall Street. That sentiment hasn't gone unnoticed by the president.
"We've made great progress but we've got so much more work to do,'' he said. "Obviously in Washington, the politics that I think people are hoping for is not what they're getting. It's still dysfunctional. It's still perversely partisan.''
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According to a pool report, the president talked about his new mortgage refinance program, which he unveiled earlier during a swing through Nevada, the start of a fundraising tour that's expected to net $4 million for his reelection campaign.
Consumers who are able to refinance their homes will have more money to "shop, go to Will's movies'' and patronize Magic's businesses, Obama said. Smith and Johnson laughed appreciatively.
The president reiterated a point he has made at previous fund-raisers -- while he's accomplished a lot, he needs a second term to complete the job.
After the $35,800-per-person fundraiser at Lassiter's house, the president headed over a “Latino gala” at the nearby home of Antonio Banderas
and Melanie Griffith
. Eva Longoria
co-hosted the party, with tickets ranging from $5,000-to-$35,800.
About 300 people, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa,
comedian George Lopez
and newscaster Giselle Fernandez,
greeted him there. Longoria introduced president to the crowd. According to the pool report, the actress told the group that Obama “speaks to the Latino community because he knows he’s the president of all Americans. And we applaud you from our community; we thank you for everything you’re doing.’’
Although there was a sprinkling of celebrities in the crowd, most of the guests were non-indusry supporters and local elected officials.
Obama called on the crowd to work as his community abassadors to get out the vote.
"We've got so much work left to do," he said. "We've got about 60 percent done. I'm pretty confident we can get the next 40 percent done in the next five years.
"The economy is still hurting right now," he said, expressing dismay that the Repbulicans stopped his jobs bill.
He also talked about the need for immigration reform. “We have a system that is broken," Obama said. "We are doing everything we can administratively to try to lessen the pain and hardship that it’s causing." The borders need to be secure, he said, but the people need to recognize that immigrants are helping make the country better and stronger.
He told the cowd that he'll need help getting a reform bill through Congress, according to the pool report.
“We’re going to have to mobilize and we’re going to have to organize and we’re going to have to tap into the best instincts of the American people in order to make it happen.’’
He brought up the topic of his gray hair again: "These presidential years are dog years," he joked.
Obama told the crowd not to give up the fight.
“Don’t get weary. Don’t get tired. Because I’m not tired. I may be gray, but I’m not tired.’’
Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti
told The Hollywood Reporter
that people left inspired and excited, but also worried that Obama could lose the election.
"It wasn't about the glitz and the star power," Garcetti said. "It was about the message. He really impressed upon people to get to work and get out there and make the case."