President Barack Obama used a star-studded fundraising concert at the Nokia Theatre Sunday night to continue making his case to be re-elected and criticize Republican opponent Mitt Romney.
During a 22-minute speech to a crowd of about 6,000, Obama recounted his accomplishments, from ending the Iraq War to winding down the war in Afghanistan, the passage of health care legislation and repeal of the law banning gays and lesbians from openly serving in the armed forces, popularly known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
The appearance came after a fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, which caused many streets on the Westside to be closed for parts of the afternoon.
At the Nokia, Obama argued the election of Romney would mean a return to the failed policies of the administration of George W. Bush and the wealthy would benefit at the expense of the middle class.
"The last thing we can afford right now is four years of the very same policies that led us to the crises in the first place," Obama said. "I cannot allow that to happen. I will not allow that to happen. That's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States."
The Romney campaign released a new television commercial today with the tag line, "We can't afford four more years," highlighting a study released Tuesday by the American Enterprise Institute that found the annual cost of Obama's current and looming debt amounts to $4,000 per year in higher taxes on the middle class.
Jon Bon Jovi, Earth, Wind and Fire, Jennifer Hudson, Katy Perry and Stevie Wonder performed at the concert, dubbed "30 Days to Victory."
"They're such great friends. They just perform flawlessly night after night. I can't always say the same," Obama said, referring to his performance in Wednesday's debate with Romney, which drew largely negative reviews.
Actor George Clooney, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro, the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, also spoke. Ticket prices ranged from $44 to $2,500.
Following the concert, Obama spoke for 18 minutes to about 120 guests, including Clooney, television producer-movie director-entertainer and recently named Academy Awards host Seth MacFarlane and movie producer Harvey Weinstein at a $25,000 per person fundraising dinner at WP24 by Wolfgang Puck on the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles at L.A. Live.
Obama again contrasted himself with Romney and recounted stories of how people have told him how they have been helped by his administration's policy, including the waiter who served him and his wife Michelle as they belatedly celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary at a Washington restaurant Saturday.
"At the end of the dinner he just said, 'I wanted to just say how much I appreciate you because you saved my mother's life," Obama said.
The waiter said his mother had suffered a stroke "and because of the Affordable Care Act, we were able to get her coverage that allows her to take her medicines and is keeping her alive," Obama said.
Obama also said "after four years of having a pretty good front row seat on the federal government, there's no doubt that there are things that we can do smarter."
"There are aspects to the federal government that were designed in the 1930s and need to be redesigned and there are savings to be had," Obama said.
Proceeds from the fundraisers will go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties. A fundraising total was not announced.
Obama's first event of the day was described by campaign press secretary Jennifer Psaki as "a thank you event for a small group of donors" who had either previously donated the maximum amount to Obama's re-election effort "or contributed a high amount."
About a dozen people heard from Obama and former President Bill Clinton at the Beverly Hills home of DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in an event closed to reporters.
The trip is Obama's 12th to the Los Angeles area since taking office, the ninth solely for political fundraising. He has spoken at political fundraisers during all but his first visit to the region as president.
Obama will spend the night at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills and is scheduled to leave Los Angeles Monday morning, bound for Keene in Kern County, where he will announce the establishment of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.