By Kevin Bogardus - 09/03/12 05:37 PM EDT
At the gathering hosted by the couple at the Mint Museum, guests took heed of the table cards laid out by the organizers that said “Thank you for not Eastwooding.” The practice is named after Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood, who took the podium at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., last week and proceeded to talk to an imaginary President Obama seated in an empty chair on stage. Since then "Eastwooding" — or tweeting photos of empty chairs — has taken off on the social network website.
Four years ago in Denver, the Podestas handed out “scarlet Ls” to lobbyists attending their brunch in protest of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) presidential campaign’s tough stance taken against K Street. But this convention, they tried a different tack.
“It’s an improv. We had to get the ‘scarlet Ls’ done way ahead of time,” said Podesta, wearing his trademark red shoes. “This would be more of a funnier thing of the moment.”
Lobbyists, media and lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), stopped by the brunch. Several said that the excitement that was evident in Denver four years ago is not likely to be matched in Charlotte this year.
“There was more excitement in Denver. People are going through the motions [this convention],” said Andy Lewin, a principal with the Podesta Group.
Tony Podesta also noted there was more drama last time as Obama had to fend off then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) during a long primary campaign. Clinton, now as Secretary of State, is not speaking at the convention this year.
“In Denver, we had the coming-together of the Obamas and the Clintons,” he said. “This time, everyone is 100 percent unified.”
The Podestas hosted the brunch at the Mint Museum for several reasons, one being its art collection. This week, the museum is showing several pieces relevant to the Democratic Party, including portraits of Obama as well as Madeleine Albright’s pin collection, who served as Secretary of State during the Clinton administration.
Well-known art collectors, the Podestas have been long-time donors to the museum and they said they have donated more than 100 pieces of art to the institution. That includes a Shepard Fairey mural of Obama that was shown during the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver and will be on display this week.
Heather Podesta is a fan of the museum.
“There’s no better place to mix,” she said. “Friends, politics, art and really good food.”