Obama using same-sex marriage stand to raise $$ already

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES -- Barely a day after announcing his support for same-sex marriage, President Obama sought to use it as a powerful political tool.

At a pair of West Coast fundraisers, he said it shows a "difference in visions" between Democrats and Republicans.

After an event in Seattle, the president's second stop was George Clooney's house in Los Angeles, where movie stars and campaign donors with deep pockets were waiting.

Even in Hollywood, which knows a thing or two about blockbusters, the L.A. event was big, pulling in just shy of $15 million for Mr. Obama's campaign -- the most ever raised at such an event.

The set: George Clooney's Hollywood Hills mansion.

A-list actors and producers arrived in style.

The star of the evening, the president, arrived at LAX in his private jet, Air Force One, then choppered off to join his soiree -- a $40,000-a-plate fundraiser.

Actor, producer, director Rob Reiner was one of 150 paying guests. He says simply, "The person I want to be president of the United States is Barack Obama."

Reiner says Hollywood progressives, who helped put Mr. Obama in the White House, grew disillusioned with him for buckling under Republican pressure too often.

Obama woos Hollywood, campaign gets $15M
Biden apologized to Obama over same-sex marriage comments
Romney "fine" with gay couples adopting
Obama may cash-in on same-sex marriage backing
Obama calls Romney "backward on equality"

But, turned off by the hard-right rhetoric of Republican Mitt Romney, and turned on by the president's endorsement of same-sex marriage, Hollywood's excitement has been rekindled.

"You're talking about people putting out $40,000 a person and we're raising, I hear now, up to $15-million," Reiner points out. "That's pretty enthusiastic."

Among the high-rollers: Steven Spielberg, Robert Downey, Jr., Barbra Streisand and studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Complete coverage: Election 2012

Mr. Obama needs Hollywood's enthusiasm and money.

"Four years ago," says Dan Schnur, a former GOP strategist who's now the director of the USC Institute of Politics, "Barack Obama was able to raise a lot of money from Hollywood, from Silicon Valley and from Wall Street. This year, Wall Street's not that excited about Barack Obama, and so raising money from the entertainment industry becomes even more important to the re-election campaign."

Why? Most of the unlimited, so-called super PAC money is going to Republicans.

"That's a bit of a concern," Reiner concedes. "But in terms of his ability to raise money for his campaign, I don't think we have to worry. ... We may not be at the level that the Republicans are funded, but we'll be competitive."

Two-thirds of the almost $15 million raised at Clooney's home came from small contributions. Tens of thousands of Americans gave an average of $23 apiece for the chance to win a ticket to the star-studded affair. Two winners and their guests got to join the luminaries dining under a tent on Clooney's basketball court.

To see Bill Whitaker's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Bill Whitaker

Comments