First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday urged supporters in Los Angeles to donate money to boost Democratic prospects in the 2014 midterm election, saying such efforts were crucial to President Obama’s ability to accomplish the goals he laid out in his State of the Union speech the night before.
"We need to be engaged right from the beginning, and this is where all of you here tonight come in. This is your part, because there is something all of you can do right now, today, to make a difference…. You can write a check, do you hear me?" she said Wednesday evening, drawing laughter from the crowd of about 200 people. "That’s what you need to do; I’m serious. Write a big, fat check. Write the biggest check you can possibly write."
Obama was speaking to a well-heeled crowd whose members had paid as much as $32,400 each to attend the fundraiser that benefited the Democratic National Committee. The gathering took place in the ivy-covered courtyard of the Spanish-style Hancock Park home of Phil Rosenthal, creator of "Everybody Loves Raymond," and his wife, Monica Horan, an actress. The fundraiser had originally been scheduled for Oct. 11, but was postponed because of the federal government shutdown.
Donors sipped champagne and nibbled on catering from Pizzeria Mozza. Among those in attendance were Barbra Streisand and James Brolin, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was an early supporter of then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign.
The event took place about 24 hours after President Obama delivered the State of the Union address, in which he called for a "year of action" to strengthen the middle class and help struggling families. He said that while he would try to work with lawmakers, he would also use executive orders if need be to press his agenda.
The first lady said it was crucial for Obama backers to elect leaders who would support her husband, and she cited the need to reduce gun violence, raise the minimum wage and expand pre-kindergarten "and so much more."
"Let’s be clear: Barack cannot do this alone sitting by himself in the Oval Office," she said, citing the economic stimulus and the national healthcare program as examples of measures that were pushed through Congress.
"So make no mistake about it, it matters who is elected to represent us in Washington. It matters," Obama said, noting that Democrats are 17 seats away from taking back control of the House of Representatives — widely considered a long shot — and hold a six-seat edge in the Senate.
"What I want all of you to think about for just a minute is what could happen if we lose those six seats," she said, contending a Republican takeover of the Senate could mean the repeal of healthcare reform, interference with a woman's ability to obtain contraception and the banning of same-sex marriage. (Presumably, however, her husband would veto any such efforts.)
"It’s simply not enough to elect Barack Obama president if we don’t also elect leaders in Congress and in our statehouses who will work with him to keep making the change we all believe in," she said.