(TAMPA, Fla.) — While in Florida Thursday night, President Obama spent some time hobnobbing with 85 of his wealthiest supporters, including former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and Pearl Jam star Eddie Vedder.
One of the top talking points at the $20,000-per-head event: Mitt Romney’s recent comments on the “47 percent.”
Vedder, who performed an acoustic set ahead of Obama’s remarks, cracked a birther joke as he traded his mandolin for a ukelele from Hawaii. “It has a little birth certificate in there,” he kidded.
He later offered a more serious reflection on politics of the day, presenting his personal story as an example of someone who was once among the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax and benefited from a government-funded job training program.
“It was that job which allowed me to keep affording guitars and microphones,” he said. “For me, it all began with that ability to get the proper training for a decent job.”
“It’s very upsetting to hear a presidential candidate be so easily dismissive of such an enormous amount of the population,” he said, referring to Romney.
Taking the stage after Vedder’s introduction, Obama said the singer’s story “captures better than anything what this campaign is about and what this country is about.”
Obama, who earlier in the day participated in a Univision “Meet the Candidates” forum, also directly addressed the 47 percent of Americans whom Romney disparaged in a recently released secret video.
“I don’t want their dreams constricted. And I also don’t want our kids to think that somehow success is reserved for them and that somehow half the country is locked out of that success,” he told the crowd of donors.
“I want everybody to be successful. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, able or disabled, and I want everybody to have a chance to success,” he said. “That’s what we’re fighting for in this election.”
The event, expected to raise north of $1.7 million for Obama’s re-election effort, according to figures provided by the Obama campaign, was held at the South Tampa home of Don Miggs and Lisa deBartolo, a daughter of the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Don Miggs is a singer-songwriter.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson and MJ Lee, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN
Sarah Anderson, Deseret News
Theodore Schleifer, CNN