Wednesday, March 30, 2011


President Barack Obama's DNC fundraiser at the Red Rooster in Harlem on Tuesday netted a cool $1.5 million for the party and marked the opening of the 2012 campaign season.

President Barack Obama's DNC fundraiser at the Red Rooster in Harlem on Tuesday netted a cool $1.5 million for the party and marked the opening of the 2012 campaign season.

President Obama rolled into Harlem Tuesday night for his first major Democratic dinner-for-dollars of the 2012 campaign season.

After a whirlwind day in the city, Obama attended the swank $30,800-a-plate soiree with 50 fat cats at the new Red Rooster restaurant on Lenox Ave.

The cash bash raked in a cool $1.5 million for the Democratic National Committee.

As hundreds of New Yorkers jammed the streets outside hoping to get a peak at the Prez, Obama rubbed elbows with movers and shakers inside the hot spot.

He received a standing ovation as he emerged from the kitchen after being ushered in through a back alley.

"You guys applauding for the corn bread?" he joked, before discussing a "challenging time" for the nation and the world, mentioning the Japan earthquake and the U.S. military intervention in Libya.

"I could not do what I do, making the best possible decisions I can for American people, without knowing that I had so many people rooting for me," he said.

His remarks were brief, but he pledged to visit all six tables of guests, who dined on lobster salad, braised short ribs and chocolate cake with rhubarb compote.

The event unofficially marks the kickoff of the 2012 political season - and serves as an early marker of Obama's money-making prowess.

New York was a gold mine for Obama in 2008, with area residents pumping more than $42 million into his campaign war chest - an amazing feat considering he was up against hometown Sen. Hillary Clinton in a brutal primary.

Obama also hosted a "Thank You" get-together with 250 supporters and pols at the nearby Studio Museum.

The hop into Harlem offered Obama a chance to repair ties with many of New York's prominent African-American Democrats.

He angered many with his team's clumsy attempt to push then-Gov. David Paterson out of the 2010 gubernatorial race, and he rankled others by suggesting Rep. Charles Rangel resign after he was censured for ethics violations last fall.

Rangel was in the crowd at the Red Rooster, and was also alongside Obama at an earlier dedication of a United Nations building named after late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown.

There, Obama also teamed up with the other Democratic presidential titan - Bill Clinton. Bubba, who had a tense relationship with Obama during the 2008 primary, couldn't have given the current President a bigger shoutout.

"He [Brown] would be very proud that Barack Obama became President of the United States, and very proud, Mr. President, of what you're doing in Libya," Clinton told Obama.

His first stop in Manhattan was at the American Museum of Natural History on the upper West Side, where Obama taped TV interviews and then addressed students at a citywide science fair. He was joined by Mayor Bloomberg.

"You are key to our success," Obama said. "What you're doing is important for our country."

Bronx Science High School senior Max Kiss took pride in giving the President details about the bamboo bicycle he had built.

"I've been riding it to school for at least two years," Kiss told Obama.

"What, they wouldn't let you bring an actual bike?" the President quipped.


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