Obama jokes about poor debate at Hollywood fundraiser

Obama waves as he walks out of the White House in Washington before departing for a campaign swing in California/AFP

LOS ANGELES, Oct 8 – President Barack Obama made a thinly-veiled joke at his own expense on Sunday, acknowledging his poor debate performance against Mitt Romney last week at a star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles.

Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry and Earth, Wind and Fire were among acts who played for the president, while Hollywood A-lister George Clooney also lent his star-power to the event.

Referring to how such musical stars perform “flawlessly, night after night,” Obama said: “I can’t always say the same” – a clear nod to his lackluster debate performance in Denver, Colorado last week.

The joke provoked sympathetic applause and laughter from the partisan packed crowd at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles, who had paid at least $250 dollars a ticket to attend the fundraiser-cum-show.

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi and singer-actress Jennifer Hudson were also on the bill, playing for some 6,000 people.

The Democratic incumbent was widely deemed the loser of last Wednesday’s first presidential debate against Republican rival Romney, who is fighting to oust Obama from the White House in the country’s November 6 election.

Obama’s campaign has since then intensified attacks on Romney’s honesty as it battles to halt the challenger’s momentum following his unexpectedly strong debate performance.

Romney’s people have hit back, sarcastically depicting Obama’s team as childish sore losers after their candidate came across as flat, nervous and unassertive during the first face-to-face encounter.

In other comments Sunday, Obama joked about Romney’s pledge to cut subsidies to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), even though he likes Big Bird, a beloved character from long-running educational TV show Sesame Street.

“Somebody’s finally cracking down on Big Bird,” he joked, adding: “Elmo’s made a run for the border” – a reference to another Sesame Street character known to generations of American children.

Romney would let “Wall Street run wild again, but he’d bring his hammer down on Sesame Street,” he joked.

Before the musical fundraiser Obama attended an event at the home of DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, a high-profile Democratic supporter. Ex president Bill Clinton was also present, with some 12 people.

Afterwards he headed for a fundraising dinner at the WP24 restaurant run by Austrian chef-to-the-stars Wolfgang Puck, attended by some 150 guests paying $25,000 (roughly over Sh2 million) each.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

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