George Clooney's $40,000-a-plate fundraiser for President Obama, co-hosted by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, took place last night at Clooney's Studio City manse, and was, by all accounts a resounding success: The event is believed to have shattered the previous one-night fundraising record of $11 million set by Obama in 2008, bringing in as much as $15 million thanks to the 150 deep-pocketed donors in attendance.
Among the celebrity benefactors: Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Barry Diller, Diane Von Furstenberg, Rob Reiner, J.J. Abrams, Marta Kauffman, and Tobey Maguire.
While the $15 million figure is still unconfirmed, there is little doubt the gala brought in enough to set a new high standard. According to The Hollywood Reporter, if confirmed, it would mean Obama managed to haul in more in a single night than his GOP rival Mitt Romney has "in any month since he jumped into the race."
After a few formalities and gentle gibes about Clooney being photoshopped out of the iconic "Hope" poster ("this is the first time that George Clooney has actually been photo-shopped out of a picture"), the President got down to brass tacks. Namely, his newly evolved same-sex marriage stance.
"Obviously yesterday we made some news," Obama said to much jubilee from attendees. "But the truth is it was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be. It grew directly out of this difference in visions. Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly and is that going to make us stronger? Are we welcoming to immigrants? Are we welcoming to people who aren't like us? Does that make us stronger? I believe it does. So that's what's at stake."
At an earlier fundraiser in Seattle, the president received a similarly approving reaction when he told the crowd every American deserves success "no matter what you look like, no matter what your last name, no matter who you love."
Giving cynics something new to harp on, the co-finance chair for the DNC in Southern California, Ken Solomon, said Obama's interview with ABC's Robin Roberts had motivated many fence-sitters to pull out their checkbooks. "Everyone was so proud of what had happened yesterday," he said. "It just cut through any previous cynicism."
[photo via AP]