Obama raises cash for Dems in New York

Associated Press
Air Force Col. Bill Knight, right, greets President Barack Obama at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, May 13, 2013, before Obama boarded Air Force One before departing to New York City for private fundraisers. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

NEW YORK (AP) — Huddling with A-list celebrities and top re-election donors, President Barack Obama bemoaned the partisan forces that have stymied compromise in Washington as he raised campaign cash for Democrats in New York.

At a cozy suppertime fundraiser Monday, Obama said he had hoped his election in 2008 might "break the fever" of partisanship and gridlock that has stood in the way of his agenda. When those hopes proved unfounded, he looked to his re-election, believing a second consecutive victory might deliver the final blow, he said.

"It's not quite broken yet," Obama said to laughter from some of the 60 donors who gathered in the home of film producer Harvey Weinstein, a major donor and bundler for Obama's re-election campaign. "I am persistent, and I am staying at it."

He said he genuinely believes that some congressional Republicans are open to compromise, but fear the party's conservative base and what talk show host Rush Limbaugh might say about them. At the same time, he pushed back against Democrats who would like to see Obama react by adopting a more defiant Democratic tone.

"My intentions over the next three-and-a-half years are to govern, because I don't have another race left," Obama said. "If we've got folks on the other side who are prepared to cooperate, that is great and we are ready to go."

But if Republicans show their top priority is winning elections, Obama said, he wants to make sure Democrats can exact consequences come Election Day.

The star-studded fundraiser was the first of three events Obama was headlining Monday in New York, making good on his commitment to go all out for Democrats ahead of the 2014 elections. Pop icons Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel were among those who grazed on deserts in a modest living room in Weinstein's West Village brownstone.

The fundraising jaunt comes at a difficult time for Obama, whose administration is facing heated questions from congressional Republicans and conservative critics over the handling of a deadly assault on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, and an admission by the Internal Revenue Service that Tea Party groups were singled out for scrutiny.

Tickets started at $16,200 for two events benefiting the Democratic National Committee, which is still retiring debt it incurred last year helping Obama get re-elected. Obama was also planning to appear at a joint fundraiser for the Democratic campaign committees in the House and Senate. About 140 people are expected at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where donors can pay $7,500 to attend or $32,400 to chair the dinner. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will attend.


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