Thursday, August 23, 2012

President Obama Raises $3 Million With "Dream Team" At 2012 Obama Classic Dinner

Michael Jordan dinner: "The other side is coming strong and they play a little dirty," President says of GOP ticket; elbows Rep. Todd Akin...
UPDATE: The contest winners tell all
President Obama on Wednesday night combined his passion for basketball with his need for cash, attending a $20,000/ticket dinner for 120 people co-hosted by former Chicago Bulls star Michale Jordan at Lincoln Center. It was followed by a "shoot around" with current and former pro basketball players. Former New York Knick stars Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley and Patrick Ewing attended the dinner and shoot around, as did Carmelo Anthony, Penny Hardaway, Chris Bosh, Sheryl Swoopes, Kyrie Irving and NBA Commissioner David Stern. The day of Obama Classic events was expected to raise about $3 million in total.

The dinner was covered by the President's White House print pool only, and the shoot around was closed to press. As Jordan introduced the President at Alice Tully Hall, he said their friendship goes back to Mr. Obama’s days in the Senate, and games of one-on-one during his first campaign. He joked that they’re probably too old now for a game of 21.

The President hailed the group of star supporters as "my dream team" as he took the podium.

"It is very rare that I come to an event where I’m like the fifth or sixth most interesting person," President Obama said. "Usually, the folks want to take a picture with or sit next to me, or talk to me -- that has not been the case at this event, and I completely understand it."

The President made a point to mention NBA all-stars who played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the key battleground state that will shortly host the Democratic National Convention.

“We have some Tar Heels in the House,” he said, adding that Jordan has “his North Carolina shorts under his suit. And that’s important to note.”

The President chastised GOP opponent Mitt Romney, and compared the final weeks of the campaign to a close championship basketball game.

"I'm going to need all of you on this team and working hard for the next 11 weeks," President Obama said. "I can't resist a basketball analogy--we are in the 4th quarter--we're up by a few points, but the other side is coming strong and they play a little dirty."

"You don't leave it to a lucky shot they might make from half-court at the end. You go ahead and you pour it on."

He also mocked US Rep. Todd Akin's recent comments about "legitimate rape."

"This is an individual who sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology, but somehow missed science class," President Obama said. "But it’s representative of a desire to go backwards instead of forwards, and to fight fights that we thought were settled 20, 30 years ago."

Education Secretary Arne Duncan
was at the event, and later told pool that neither his team nor the President's team won during the closed-press shoot around, which included about 20 people, current and former NBA and WNBA players. They were divided into six teams, and #2 won, said Duncan, who called it "a lot of fun."

The President has been favoring his right knee lately but spokesmen have declined to comment on any injury. He changed to athletic gear for the shoot around but was back in a suit as he climbed aboard Air Force One to return to Washington.

The 2012 Obama Classic included a $250 per-fan autograph signing by the hoops stars for 400 people and a $5,000-per-baller skills camp for 100 people earlier in the day that the President and Jordan did not attend.

The campaign ran an online contest for two supporters and their guests to attend the dinner and shoot around: They were Torski Dobson-Arnold, a life coach from Mechanicsville, Virginia, and Sam Stroh, an 8th grade social studies teacher and high school basketball coach, from Prairie Valley, Kansas, according to the campaign. More on the winners here.

The President last played basketball with stars on May 11, on the morning following a $40,000/ticket fundraising dinner at George Clooney's LA-area house. He played a pick-up game with Clooney, actor Tobey Maguire, and aides at Clooney's Studio City mansion, site of the dinner.

The President arrived back at the White House shortly before midnight.

The New York event was the last of a two-day campaign swing for Mr. Obama that included stops in Ohio and Nevada.

The transcript of the President's remarks.

*Photo by Pete Souza/White House