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Obama headlines the Apollo: fund-raiser

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below, pool report on President Obama's fund-raiser at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, by New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes


POOL REPORT 9 - at the Apollo

Final of four fundraisers. (At nearly 11 pm, motorcade is heading to JFK to return to Andrews.)

Shortly before 10 pm, POTUS took the stage at the Apollo Theater against a black backdrop with one large outstretched American flag that was flanked on each side by two flags on poles. He's fired up - even began by breaking into the Al Green song "Let's Stay Together" after thanking the Reverend for warming up the audience along with India.Arie - so clearly he is breaking from whatever script is on the teleprompters nearby.

("I told you I was going to do it," a grinning POTUS said to someone stage-left whom the pool could not see. And "Sandman did not come out!" he added - referring to the late Howard "Sandman" Sims, the onetime vaudeville tap-dancer who would literally give the hook to failed acts on amateur nights on TV's "Showtime at the Apollo.")

POTUS goes through his usual list of achievements, but this larger and more diverse audience (1,400 was the advance estimate, with tickets at $100 and $200) interrupts with enthusiastic applause and shouts, unlike the relatively more sedate high-dollar donors at the night's earlier functions.

With one hand in a pocket and leaning the other arm onto the podium, POTUS, as he often does, invoked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's statement that his priority is to make POTUS a one-term president. "My top priority is putting people back to work," he said to applause, and educating kids, making sure everyone has affordable health care.

As previously at fundraisers, he noted how much farther right Republicans have moved since his first election campaign -- when his Republican rival "was not a climate-change denier," favored broad immigration reform, opposed torture. ­­­Long pause. "The contrast this year could not be sharper," he added.

The biggest burst of applause to that point came when he said that it is important for "those who are most fortunate to pay their fair share." He disdainfully noted that Republicans call such statements "cla­­­­­­­­­­­ss warfare" but added, "I should pay more taxes and folks in my income bracket should pay more taxes" - not because he simply wants to take the money but "because we've got basic investments" to cover.

He summarized the Republican agenda as give more tax cuts for the rich and let companies do whatever they want even if it hurts people. "We tried that. I don't know if you remember, but we tried that. It never worked." ­­

Real and lasting change is hard, he said, adding, "It's hard. It takes time. It takes more than a single term. It takes more than a single president." But change comes, he added. "I've lived it. I've seen it."

"Yes my hair is grayer. Yes, we've got some dings and some dents." And yes, the financial crisis has taken a long time to recover from. But, he said, getting louder and building to his finale, "There is no other country that doesn't envy our position. They understand that this country is still that last best hope and they are counting, the world is counting, and our fellow citizens are counting on our not giving up, not giving in to despair."

He said if his supporters want to end the game-playing, cynicism and soundbites in Washington, you've got to send a message "that you intend to keep hoping and keep pushing and keep fighting just as hard as you did four years ago. And "if you're going to work just as hard, if you're able to generate that same passion and commitment, then I'll there next to you."

"I am just as determined now as I was then," he said, "and if you are willing to stand alongside of me..." At this point, people had begun rising to their feet, clapping and shouting so loudly that pool, sitting in the rear row, could no longer see or hear POTUS except to catch the line, "Change will come..."

Even before he finished, pool was rushed out to the vans on W. 126th Street. At last glance POTUS was shaking hands with folks who pressed against the stage as a line of Secret Service agents flanked him on the stage, looking out over the crowd.

Jackie Calmes, NYT,

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 20, 2012 1:40 AM.

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