Obama turns to New York celebrities for campaign money

June 14, 2012 9:16:55 PM PDT
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama returned to New York City Thursday to visit the World Trade Center site and to attend a pair of fundraisers.

They joined governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in getting a firsthand look at the construction progress.

The president met with construction workers and signed a beam to go atop the 1,776-foot tower.

President Barack Obama then soaked in the support - and the campaign cash - of Manhattan's elite entertainers Thursday as his re-election team sought to fill its fundraising coffers.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama made a rare joint fundraising appearance when they visited the home of actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. The intimate dinner banked about $2 million, with 50 people paying $40,000 each.

The dinner was the Obama campaign's latest attempt to bank on celebrities for fundraising help in countering the growing donor enthusiasm from Republicans supporting Mitt Romney's presidential bid.

Speaking in a dimly lighted, art-filled room, Obama told supporters they would play a critical role in an election that would determine a vision for the nation's future.

"You're the tie-breaker," he said. "You're the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes."

Among the celebrities on hand to hear Obama's remarks were Oscar winner Meryl Streep, fashion designer Michael Kors and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who moderated a private question-and-answer session between the president and the guests. Broderick, who was starring in a Broadway musical, was absent.

The president and Mrs. Obama also headlined a second glitzy fundraiser in Manhattan Thursday night that included a performance from singer Mariah Carey and remarks by singer Alicia Keys. The 250-person dinner yielded the Obama campaign at least $2.5 million.

The Obamas departed from Kennedy Airport at 11:35 p.m.

Earlier on Thursday, he PATH station at the World Trade Center was closed from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., which made things tough for commuters during the evening rush.

"From 3 to 6, you're really inconveniencing a lot of commuters," straphanger Mary Grech said. "There has to be a better way to go about it rather than putting out how many thousands of riders out of commission, and having to find another way home."

NJ Transit cross-honored bus, rail, light rail and PATH tickets between 3 and 6 p.m. The agency also accepted tickets from private bus lines.

Some riders got path alerts on their smart phones, but others knew nothing about the looming problem.

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