White House Correspondent
Travel Pool Report #4 - DNC fund-raiser, Greenwich, Conn.
Uneventful motorcade from Stamford, Conn., to Greenwich, Conn.
At 7:45 p.m. POTUS arrived up a tree-and-white-picket-fence-lined driveway in Conyers Farm, a gated luxury community. The fund-raising dinner for the Democratic National Committee was at the estate of real estate developer Richard Richman and his wife Ellen, but it should be noted that this is also the gated community that is home to Linda McMahon, the Republican rival to Democratic Senate hopeful Dick Blumenthal for whom Obama campaigned earlier tonight.
The Richmans were Obama supporters since his Senate campaign, the president told the intimate group of about 50 wealthy guests expected to give up to $30,400 each and raise about $1 million for the DNC.
Dinner guests recognized by your pooler and AP's Erica Werner included actor/director Ron Howard, journalist Jane Pauley and her husband Garry Trudeau. Blumenthal also attended.
Ellen Schapps Richman introduced Obama, explaining that he was a man of his word because at a fund-raiser at Tommy Hilfiger's during the presidential campaign he promised the next time he was in Greenwich he would come to her home.
The president spoke for about 11 minutes. "I've never been more optimistic about America," he said, because of the many "really tough things" Democrats had done since he took office, which he said would pay off in the long run. He cited health care and financial system reforms, said he was "shaking up" the education system. He said his administration had "reset our relations around the world," had ended the combat mission in Iraq, was renewing the Mideast peace process, and was seeing cooperation from Russia. The changes "will take some time to bear fruit," he said. He said continued backing from wealthy Democratic donors such as those at the dinner is "desperately needed."He said Democrats congenitally tend to see the proverbial glass as half-empty, and, to laughter, said, "You know who you are." He urged the donors to see what had been accomplished, so that they could feel good about writing checks and championing candidates.
Your pool was not permitted to linger in the dining room for what was described as POTUS going table to table to speak with the guests.
Instead, the pool was escorted down into a massive, furnished basement with a pool table, projection screen, bar, jukebox, Foosball set, drum set and other nice features (but alas your pooler was busy at work on this report). On the way to the stairs, we glimpsed an enormous painted portrait of Obama, displayed on an easel in a study.
On the main floor, the dinner was set up in a cozy room with a tile and wood fireplace off a grand living room. Oriental rugs everywhere, lots of vases and lush floral displays, columns, paintings of hunt country and vaulted ceilings. Wine had been served but no food was on the table upon pool's arrival.
For more on the Richmans' home and their community, see the Sept. 9 piece by Neil Vigdor (in the local pool for tonight) at http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Polo-and-the-POTUS-Obama-invades-McMahon-s-652287.php
His article describes the home as 12,936 sq. ft. and worth $16.3 million per the assessor's records, with 6BR, seven full- and 2.5-half baths, a tennis court, pool and nearly 20 acres.
Motorcade is rolling at 9:14 p.m.
White House Correspondent