Published December 23, 2015
Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays, Ellen DeGeneres and Cher threw their support behind President Barack Obama at fundraisers in California on Wednesday, becoming the latest celebrities to join the president's ever-growing list of high-profile backers.
The president is expected to raise more than $5 million during his two-day swing to the West Coast, which wraps up with a breakfast in Los Angeles on Thursday morning.
Mays, 81, considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, introduced Obama at a fundraiser at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco, after riding on Air Force One with the president.
"I had no idea in my lifetime that we would have an Afro-American guy in the White House," Mays said. "It's so wonderful that he can remember me and invite me to a place like this."
Obama told the audience of about 250 guests, who had paid $5,000 each to attend the event, that "as cool as Air Force One is, it is much much cooler when Willie Mays is with you on the plane."
The president's fundraising events in San Francisco on Wednesday were followed by a LGBT Leadership Council Gala featuring TV host DeGeneres and pop icon Cher at the Los Angeles Beverly Wilshire Hotel later in the evening.
"I could not be prouder of the work that we've done on behalf of the LGBT community," Obama told the roughly 600 people who paid $1,250 per person to attend the event, according to Politico.
Later Wednesday, Obama moved on to another fundraiser at the Los Angeles home of "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, where 70 people will pay $25,000 to dine with the president.
The president has continually relied on his celebrity support network to help out during his re-election fundraising campaign -- a point not lost on Republicans and their supporters.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called the president "Barack Hussein Kardashian" on Tuesday, saying the president was out of touch with ordinary Americans who are struggling in a depressed economy.
Asked by reporters on Air Force One about Obama's heavy fundraising schedule and penchant for using celebrities to rake in the cash, White House press secretary Jay Carney took a shot at one of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's top supporters.
"Two words. Donald Trump," he said. "Next question."
Still, Obama's schedule of fundraisers this week has included performances by rocker Jon Bon Jovi -- who also flew on Air Force One with the president -- and appearances by a number of famous actors, including James Earl Jones and "30 Rock" star Cheyenne Jackson.
The week of celebrity-packed fundraisers comes after George Clooney held an event at his Studio City, Calif., home which brought in $15 million for the president's campaign last month. Notable attendees included Robert Downey Jr., Billy Crystal, Jack Black, Salma Hayek and Tobey Maguire.
Campaign ads were also released this week calling for people to enter a draw to join Obama next week for an event at the New York City home of celebrity couple Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.