President Returns to LA for Fundraiser at George Clooney's Studio City Home

Thursday's fundraiser could be the biggest ever for a U.S. president

By Ted Chen and Neil Costes
|  Thursday, May 10, 2012  |  Updated 11:43 PM PDT
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President Barack Obama joined 150 campaign supporters, who paid $40,000 a piece, to dine at the Studio City home of George Clooney. The campaign raffled off two tickets to the dinner resulting in millions of dollars in smaller donations. Conan Nolan reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on May 10, 2012.

President Barack Obama joined 150 campaign supporters, who paid $40,000 a piece, to dine at the Studio City home of George Clooney. The campaign raffled off two tickets to the dinner resulting in millions of dollars in smaller donations. Conan Nolan reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on May 10, 2012.

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President Barack Obama thanked George Clooney for letting his campaign use the actor's basketball court for a star-studded fundraiser at Clooney's Studio City home Thursday night, according to a statement released by the White House Office of the Press Secretary.

Although held at Clooney's home, the fundraiser, expected to raise $15 million including online donations, was hosted by Dreamworkers CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

"He has just been consistently been there for me through thick and through thin," Obama said Thursday night, according to the statement. "Sometimes the 2008 campaign gets romanticized and everybody says how perfect it was and I have to remind them, no, I was there.

"And the only person I don't have to remind is Jeffery, because he was there through all the ups and downs. And occasionally he would call and say, Barack, I don't think things are working the way they're supposed to."

Thursday's fundraiser could be the biggest ever for a U.S. president. Thousands of people also paid an average of $23 by entering an online contest.

Two winners, one of them a couple from New Jersey, randomly selected then screened by security, were let into the event, their airfare covered by the campaign.

Obama landed in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon for the campaign fundraiser, which had Southland residents worried about potential presidential gridlock.

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"I wasn't too pleased about it because all I could think was that my hiking trail is going to be closed down," neighbor Lisa Luchesi said.

NBCLA Twitter followers said their commutes were not abnormally hindered by the president's SoCal stopover.

Massive traffic delays soured the president's visit two years ago, but LA City Councilman Paul Krekorian said he does not expect Ventura or Laurel Canyon boulevards to be closed. However, authorities say to expect delays in the Studio City area south of Ventura.

Obama landed at LAX shortly before his scheduled 6:30 p.m. landing, and was back in the air on Marine One minutes later. He traveled by helicopter and motorcade to get to the fundraiser, which he left shortly before 11 p.m.

Obama is expected to stay overnight in Beverly Hills and leave from LAX around 10 a.m. Friday morning.

"The president is coming to your street," neighbor Fiona Hutton told her kids. "You're not going to be able to say that again in your lifetime."

Other residents saw a similar silver lining to the visit.

"It's fun; it's exciting; I love living here," said one resident.

Opinion: Starmageddon: Obama Could Make Us Hate Clooney

It's the hottest ticket in town, said Access Hollywood's Shaun Robinson.

"They're keeping the guest list under wraps," Robinson said. "But we know that Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks is going to be there. Barbra Streisand is going to be on the guest list."

The LA Times reported that famed chef Wolfgang Puck catered the dinner. Other guests suspected to have attended are Robert Downey Jr. and Tobey Maguire.

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