President Obama took his message of making the wealthy pay their fair share to ahigh-dollar fundraiser hosted at the mansion of NBA player Vince Carter, where he and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised approximately $2.1 million from a group of basketball stars.
Roughly seventy people paid $30,000 a piece to attend the fundraiser, held in Carter's indoor basketball gym, according to the pool report. The audience included current and former superstar point guards Chris Paul and Magic Johnson, as well as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Alonzo Mourning -- whose Miami Heat defeated the Mavs for the 2006 NBA title.
DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., joined Obama at the fundraiser, as did the vulnerable Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who is currently up for reelection.
Obama praised NBA commissioner David Stern for his handling of the NBA lockout this summer. "I don't know what I would be doing with myself if I didn't have at least some basketball games around," the pooler quotes Obama as saying.
The pool report also notes that Obama "repeated his pitch about wealthy Americans paying their fair share," adding that Obama observed he can't take afford of any tax loopholes as president because everyone can see his tax returns.
Full report below.
Motorcade arrived at Vince Carter's Orlando mansion at 8:50 and the pool was brought into the in-home, full-sized basketball court where the fundraiser is being held. A few minutes later, the president entered the the room, only half of which was filled with tables.
The electronic scoreboard reads 20:12, with the home and guest scores at 44. The shot clock says it's period 2.
There are 70 guests, paying $30,000 each. Magic Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, NBA commissioner Mark Stern, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, LA Clippers player Chris Paul, former Miami Heat player Steve Smith. Also on hand: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Bill Nelson and Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer. Obama hugged Cuban as he entered the room.
Carter introduced Obama, who he said is "someone who I support who has done great in our community." Carter said he usually doesn't like to have big groups in his home, but
"It's a nice gym," Obama said as he began his remarks. "Vince said that he left the other side open in case I wanted to get in a dunk contest with him. But I told him I didn't bring my sneakers, so, not tonight."
"It's a huge treat for me ever since he's been playing for the Tar Heels. I know Reggie Love's not here so I can praise the Tar Heels," he said. "I see a lot of other friends in the room. You know, Alonzo and Tracy have been there every time I've come to Florida.... Magic and Cookie, wherever I go in California, they're there for us. Chris is helping out our fitness council and allowed me to cross over on him when we played during my birthday. He insists he could have stolen the ball at any time."
Obama also offered his appreciation to Stern. "I just want to say, thank you so much for settling the lockout, because I don't know what I would be doing with myself if I didn't at least have some basketball games around," he said. "And obviously we're looking forward to the All Star Game. The game in Miami is tight, by the way. I was checking on the score as I was flying out."
Then, he shifted into his usual fundraiser talk about his administration's efforts to boost the economy and prevent a depression. "Consumer confidence is up, people are buying tickets to the games," he said. "And the general sense is we may have weathered the worst of the storm."
Obama also repeated his pitch about wealthy Americans paying their fair share. “Here’s the thing about being president, you pay every time. You don’t take advantage of any loopholes because everybody sees your income tax returns. So I'm probably in the top bracket in every category."
He connected his economic message to his audience. "I love looking at Magic’s story, for example. His dad, when you talk about basketball, you learned work ethic from your dad, working every day driving a truck, right? You know what? That was a life of dignity and respect. You weren't a celebrity, you might not have made millions of dollars, but you could raise a family and have a home and pass on to your son those same values," Obama said. “That’s what we’re fighting for, that’s the struggle, it has to do with our values and who are are as Americans.”
It’s OK that Americans look at him when things aren’t going well in the country and says "why haven't you fixed it yet?" Obama said. “As Michelle reminds me, you volunteered for this.”
"But no matter where I go around the country ... I meet the most incredible people and they still have confidence and optimism in America's possibilities."
As reporters were being led out of the room, Obama stalled the start of his Q and A. "Some of them probably want autographs, but sorry guys."
Pool is holding in one section of Carter's large garage.