Obama stresses down-ballot races at big-money Hollywood fundraiser

Obama stresses down-ballot races at big-money Hollywood fundraiser
© Getty Images
President Obama collected more than $1 million for his party’s House and Senate candidates from Hollywood’s Democratic elite Thursday and Friday, and left his deep-pocketed backers with what he termed a “professorial” lecture on the importance of recapturing Congress.
But some of the president’s most revelatory comments came during an intimate Friday morning breakfast — to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — at the Brentwood home of actor Tobey Maguire, according to a source at the event.
In Q&A session with 20 people gathered for the $33,400-per-couple fundraiser, Obama told the group, which included comedian Bill Maher and actor Bryan Cranston, that he wasn’t endorsing a presidential candidate — at least for now.
Obama also said that he wouldn’t want to run for a third term even if he could.
“He said no matter how much he’s accomplished, the country needs fresh ideas and fresh candidates,” the source told The Hill. “He also said his staff is tired.”
Maher chided Obama for failing to appear on his HBO show, joking that he has better digs than Marc Maron's garage in Highland Park (where Obama taped a podcast last summer). The president laughed, but offered no commitment. A petition to get Obama on Maher's show has more than 300,000 signatures.
On Thursday night, Obama attended a large gathering at the Bel Air mansion of Disney Chairman Alan Horn and his environmentalist wife, Cindy. There, the president stressed the importance of “recognizing the enormous power of Congress and the difference between a Nancy Pelosi being Speaker of the House and a Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Adelsons donated M in September to help GOP in midterms MORE being Speaker of the House.”
Among the blue-chip Hollywood stars who listened to Obama speak beneath a backyard tent draped in fairy lights were Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Obama began by describing Senate Republicans' blocking consideration of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. 
“No one disputes Mr. Garland's credentials,” the president told his listeners. “Uniformly, Democrats, Republicans, jurists, lawyers, editorial boards — they all acknowledge that rarely has there been somebody this well-qualified to send to the Supreme Court. And yet, what we've seen out of the Republicans in the Senate is not simply a refusal to confirm him thus far, but a refusal to meet with him or to have a hearing, or to have a vote."
Obama warned of what could happen next if the GOP's blockade holds up.
“If, in fact, the Senate refuses to even give a hearing to Mr. Garland, the basic compact that we have in a big, diverse country like this, our ability to cooperate and find the solutions to the big challenges that we face will deteriorate to such a point where it's going to be very difficult for anybody, and any president, to do what they need to do.”
"People act as if these folks are outliers. But they're not," the president said. 
"Listen to talk radio, watch their interviews. Look at how they operate in town halls. They're saying stuff that's just as wacky as what we're hearing out of the presidential candidates. It's just nobody was paying attention. And so we should thank Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz for just being honest.”
Following the Maguire event Friday morning, the president and his daughter Malia, who accompanied him to the West Coast, flew to the Bay Area for a further round of congressional fundraising. 
One event, a DNC roundtable at an undisclosed “private residence,” is closed to the press, though it is known that the 25 unnamed attendees paid $33,400 per couple to take part.
The marquee appearance of Obama’s San Francisco visit will be Pelosi’s annual “signature” event — a DCCC dinner at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty. Tickets also run $33,400 per couple for the evening, which includes public remarks by the president.