President Barack Obama looked not for votes in California on Wednesday but for millions of dollars to aid Democratic campaigns, including at a fundraiser hosted by such Hollywood names as Steven Spielberg.
Like Bill Clinton and other top Democrats before him, Obama visits the Golden State now and then to tap wealthy, liberal-leaning activists, especially in Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
Wednesday night's two-tiered event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel offered tickets ranging from $1,000 to $15,200. The lower prices bought access to a ballroom where Obama was scheduled to speak in the evening. The higher prices bought a place at a dinner for about 250 people, plus the president.
The dinner hosts included movie and music executives Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. Proceeds go to the Democratic National Committee, which helps pay for local campaigns.
Ticket prices slashed
Organizers said the dinner sold out. But ticket prices for the larger event were slashed to $1,000 from $2,500 when initial sales were slow.
"We wanted to open it up to a broader range of folks," said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan.
Obama had no other events scheduled in California, and he planned to fly back to Washington early Thursday. Before flying to Los Angeles on Wednesday, he held an event on the economy and energy near Las Vegas.
While many Obama supporters waved and cheered as his motorcade approached the hotel in Beverly Hills, some protesters were gathering to decry Tuesday's California Supreme Court ruling that upheld the voter-approved gay marriage ban. Some of them also urged Obama to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays.