ATLANTA (WAOK) – President Barack Obama spent close to six hours in Atlanta on Friday for a campaign fundraising stop that took him to three different places. The swing was expected to raise several million dollars for his 2012 re-election bid. The president was greeted on the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by Mayor Kasim Reed and some members of Georgia’s Democratic U.S. congressional delegation. U.S. Representatives John Lewis, Hank Johnson, David Scott and Sanford Bishop were among the first to greet Obama. Governor Nathan Deal and Georgia’s Republican U.S. lawmakers did not attend the airport arrival. Obama shook hands with supporters gathered on the tarmac before strolling over to his armored car known as “The Beast” and left to attend the first of three separate fundraising events at 5:40 pm.
Outside of the midtown home of businessman Mack Wilbourne, Obama was greeted by another group of neighbors and well wishers who wasted no time snapping photos and trying to get close enough for a touch. “Mommy, I shook his hand!” said a six-year-old girl. Inside the house, according to pool reporters traveling with the president, Obama addressed a group of 75 people in the adjacent dining room, under a large framed photo of himself accepting the Democratic nomination in Denver in 2008. “Hello everybody,” he said, thanking Wilbourne and his guests for supporting his first bid for the White House. “When your name is Barack Hussein Obama,” he said, “nothing is ever a sure thing.”
“The reason I ran, and the reason people like Mack supported me, wasn’t just to get back to square one.” He talked about overhauling health care, saving GM and Chrysler and his Republican opponents. Tickets to attend the event at the Wilbourne home were $10,000 a piece according to a campaign official.
Then it was on to the event sponsored by the African American Leadership Council at film producer Tyler Perry’s studio in SW Atlanta. As the motorcade arrived, the guests were being entertained by Cee Lo Green. Later, the crowd gathered in one of the soundstages, where Tyler Perry introduced the president. “How unbelievable is this?” he asked the audience. Perry spoke about his rich imagination, but said he never thought there would be a day when the presidential motorcade arrived at his place. President Obama then strode on the stage, hugged Perry, and said, “It is good to be back in Atlanta, Georgia.” Obama began by thanking the assembled dignitaries, including his actor-director-producer-mogul host. “When you look at a Tyler Perry and all that he has achieved,” he said, “you can’t help but be proud of our country.” According to pool reporters, here he spoke about the Lily Ledbetter law, fuel efficiency standards for cars, reforming student loan programs, investing in education, rebuilding public housing, repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” ending the Iraq war, dispatching Osama bin Laden, and reforming health-care. Supporters paid anywhere from $250 to $10,000 to attend this event. One thousand people purchased tickets showing their support for a second term for Obama in the White House.
The final event of the evening was dinner at Perry’s home near Vinings where the ticket price was steep, $35,800 per guest. The money is split between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The president arrived around 9:00 pm for dinner and photos with his well off supporters. Pool reporters noted about 40 people in attendance.
The home is described as a three story French –chateau style mansion with a wide marble staircase leading up to the front door and a Great Hall, where there were five tables, with eight guests each. There was a huge marble fireplace with candles flickering inside, and African art on the walls. The president walked in and started his speech, using a microphone and complimented Perry on his house. “Usually we have better accommodation for events but we decided to slum it here,” he said. He then complimented Oprah Winfrey, who was sitting at the center table, in a blue dress, a few places away from Valerie Jarrett thanking Oprah for her early support during his run for president.
Obama talked about getting back into that campaign mode and reflecting on the journey traveled so far over the last three years. Obama said his new campaign film was “worth catching because what it reminds us of is where we were, “Because you can’t understand where we are unless you get a sense where we have been” he said.
President Obama left the Perry mansion and headed back to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to return to Washington D.C. at 11:00 pm