President Barack Obama spent nearly four hours in McLean Sunday evening with Bill Clinton as they met and mingled at their first joint fundraiser at the home of their mutual friend Terry McAuliffe, former chair of the Democratic National Committee.
About 600 guests paid from $1,000 to $20,000 or $25,000 for the rare treat of seeing two presidents together in Dorothy and Terry McAuliffes' backyard. The evening included a reception plus dinner.
"Well, you guys get two Presidents for one out of this event, which is a pretty good deal," President Obama told the guests to laughter.
The two presidents spoke from a stage set up beneath a white tent and the crowd about 10 feet from stage. The president shared the stage with President Clinton and host Terry McAuliffe.
Clinton introduced the president making the case for his reelection in November with these comments according to a transcript from the White House press office:
- "He's got an opponent who basically wants to do what they did before, on steroids — which will get you the same consequences you got before, on steroids."
- "So if somebody says, well, but I don't feel all that great yet, or not everything is back yet, or it's still kind of slow yet, you just remind them we've gotten 4 million jobs since the recession bottomed out; the ones we lost in the crash have been restored."
- "So I think he's done a good job. I think he is beating the historical standard for coming out of a financial collapse and a mortgage collapse. I think the last thing you want to do is to turn around and embrace the policies that got us into trouble in the first place. We need to keep going forward by re-electing Barack Obama President of the United States."
Obama told the gathering: "A lot of what we've done over the last three and a half years has been designed just to right the ship to respond to crises, to make sure that Detroit didn't go under, to make sure that the banking system was no longer locked up, to make sure that small businesses could get loans, and consumers could buy a home again or buy a car again; making sure that the system did not break down. And that took enormous amounts of energy and some pretty tough and difficult political decisions."
He also mentioned Virginia: "... That's before I start talking about social issues that are at stake. You know something about that in Virginia; the kinds of nonsense that’s been going on. But that's all across the country. When you have folks who talk about — want to repeal 'don't ask' — repeal the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' When you have folks who are talking about not just constraining women's reproductive health, but questioning things like contraception as part of our preventive care."
Taking on the intransigence of Republicans in Congress, the President said, "So part of what's happened is we now have a Republican Party that's unrecognizable. I've said this and I meant it: Ronald Reagan could not get through a Republican primary in this election cycle. Could not get through it. Here's a guy who raised taxes. That in and of itself would have rendered him unelectable in a Republican primary."
Obama also introduced Virginia Democratic legislators who attended including: former governor and now Senate candidate Tim Kaine, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-McLean, Arlington and Alexandria, and state Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, McLean.
Supporters started lining up about 2 p.m. in the parking lot of St. Luke's Catholic Church to go through Secret Service security checks and board shuttle buses to take them to the McAuliffes.
Margi Vanderhye, a former state delegate, attended the fundraiser because: "I think the chance to see two of the smartest people I've known in my lifetime in place. This was an opportunity we couldn't pass up."
Janet Goss of Bethesda, who was standing with her, said she came because "The opportunity to meet both Bill Clinton and President Obama is an historic opportunity. To be with the two presidents that I admire the most."
Eucharia Jackson came from Richmond: "I been supporting Obama since 2008. We are very terrified and feeling insulted with all the woman's issues going on with the Republican particularly with (Gov.) McDonnell."
Olufolajimi Ige of Crystal City: "You can't beat the opportunity to meet two presidents at the same time, and they are both on my bucket list."
Bruce Wolff of Washington, D.C., said: "I'm an admirer of both of them and to hear them together is simply fantastic."
All the guests had gathered by 3:30 p.m. and spent the next two hours talking with old friends, meeting new friends and wondering when the president would arrive.
Obama spent the early afternoon on the golf course at Andrews Air Force base with a trio of ambassadors. Then home to the White House to change and get in the motorcade for the twenty minute trip to McLean. (They didn't stop for red lights.)