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Sunday, July 14, 2024

A Dreamworks backdrop for Obama’s economic pitch

President Barack Obama speaks during a DNC fundraiser at the San Francisco Jazz Center, Monday in San Francisco.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks during a DNC fundraiser at the San Francisco Jazz Center, Monday in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama is wrapping up a three-day West Coast tour by making an economic pitch at the studio of movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of his top fundraisers and political supporters.

Obama will push his economic agenda at DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, Calif., on Tuesday. Before delivering his remarks, Obama planned to meet with film industry executives and tour the studio that created “Shrek,” ”Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda.”

He will also attend his last Democratic Party fundraiser of the trip at the home of Marta Kauffman, co-creator of the sitcom “Friends.”

The Seattle-to-San Francisco-to-Los Angeles trip featured seven fundraisers for the Democratic Party and the committees that help House and Senate Democrats. So far this year, Obama has been the main attraction at five fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, five for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and two joint House and Senate fundraisers.

Late Monday, at a fundraiser at the sprawling Beverly Hills home of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Obama praised the legendary Los Angeles Laker, saying that when Johnson revealed his HIV diagnosis in 1991 he prompted the country and the world to think in a new way about the disease. He said Johnson changed “our attitudes with the kind of grace and courage that only true leaders can display.”

The 160 attendees who paid as much as $15,000 to attend included actors Samuel L. Jackson and Diane Keaton and basketball players Antawn Jamison and J.J. Redick of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Obama, a basketball fan who still plays with friends, joked that his basketball career ended in high school, though he said he may have been able to play at a Division III college.

“Also keep in mind that the last time Magic played basketball was with me at my 49th birthday party, and I just want to tell you, it wasn’t pretty,” he said.

Later, Obama spoke at a dinner for about 120 donors hosted by Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban. Among the guests was actor Tom Hanks. Saban, known for his pro-Israel views, applauded the international deal with Iran to temporarily limit Tehran’s nuclear capabilities. The agreement has been called an “historic mistake” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While in Los Angeles, Obama also visited with the family of a Transportation Security Administration officer who was killed at Los Angeles International Airport earlier this month.

The White House said Obama gathered with relatives of officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The president also met with TSA agents Tony Grigsby and James Speer, both of whom were wounded in the shootings.

By visiting DreamWorks, Obama will be reunited with Katzenberg, a major campaign contributor. The White House rejected suggestions that the visit to DreamWorks was a reward for Katzenberg’s support.

“DreamWorks obviously is a thriving business and is creating lots of jobs in Southern California,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “And the fact of the matter is Mr. Katzenberg’s support for the President’s policies has no bearing on our decision to visit there; rather, it’s an opportunity.”

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