Obama touts marriage stance, fairness -- Hollywood answers with $15M for campaign

George Clooney, left, and President Obama, right, at a fundraiser hosted by George Clooney and Jeffrey Katzenberg on Thursday, May 10, 2012. Brandon Clark/ABImages

George Clooney, left, and President Obama, right, at a fundraiser hosted by George Clooney and Jeffrey Katzenberg on Thursday, May 10, 2012.
Brandon Clark/ABImages
(CBS News) LOS ANGELES - "I want to thank Clooney for letting us use his basketball court" - words never before spoken by a U.S. president - until Thursday night.

Those words passed the lips of President Obama as he thanked actor and activist George Clooney for hosting an Obama Campaign fundraiser at his estate in Studio City, CA. Movie mogul David Katzenberg was also an organizer of the event, which he said generated nearly $15 million. That makes it by far the single biggest Obama Campaign fundraiser to date.

The price of admission was $40,000 - well over average U.S. per capita income, which stands at $27,334, according to the Census Bureau. It's also 77 percent of the median household income of $51,914.

Ticket sales from the 150 or so guests brought in about $6 million. The additional $9 million in revenue came from a sweepstakes run by the Obama Campaign - offering supporters contributing as little as $3.00 the chance to win "An Evening with President Obama and George Clooney."

The winners were Beth Topinka, a science teacher from Manalapan, New Jersey and Karen Blutcher, a mom from St. Augustine, Florida. Each of the two women got to bring a guest to the fundraiser, as well. Their prize included airfare to Los Angeles and a hotel room for the night.

Among Hollywood personalities paying their own way to the event were Spider-Man and Iron Man (actors Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr.). Other donors included Barbara Streisand - looking serious in a black beret, husband Josh Brolin, Oscars host Billy Crystal and actors Jack Black and Salma Hayek.

"What an extraordinary evening," declared Mr. Obama as he began 20 minutes of remarks.

He mentioned his headline-making decision this week to publically support same-sex marriage.

"The truth is, it was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be," he said. Explaining how he came to his decision, Mr. Obama asked: "Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly?"

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The president ran through his boilerplate campaign speech and his plans to boost the economy, create more jobs, promote clean energy and expand educational opportunities.

And he's no longer shy about taking a swipe or two at his presumptive Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.

"The choice between the path that I've set for this country and that of my opponent could not be starker, and the stakes couldn't be higher."

President Obama said the attitude of Republicans is, "you're on your own."

"If you're a kid born in a poor neighborhood in L.A., tough luck, you're on your own. If you're a senior citizen who, because of bad luck, got laid off, or the company ended up dissolving without your pension being vested, tough luck. You didn't plan well enough," the president continued. "That's not the America I believe in. That's not the America you believe in."

It reflects Mr. Obama's campaign strategy: portray his opponents as heartless and self-interested.

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At a fundraiser earlier in the day in Seattle, Mr. Obama called Romney, "a patriotic American," rightfully proud of his financial success.

But he went on to say Romney had learned "wrong lessons" from his life experience.

"He actually believes that if CEOs and the wealthiest investors like him get rich, that the rest of us automatically do, too," proclaimed the president.

Thursday's three campaign events bring to 133 the number of fundraisers President Obama has done since filing for reelection 13 months ago. It's far more than any of his recent predecessors in their reelection bids.

Mr. Obama clearly enjoyed himself at the Clooney event. He stayed until 10:55 p.m. - which translates into 1:55 a.m. Eastern Time - since he began his day back east in the White House.

  • Mark Knoller On Twitter»

    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.

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