the left. I wonder, though, how do you get heckled at a fundraiser? Aren’t all the people in the room because they’ve paid a substantial amount of money?
Barack Obama heckled in Manhattan
By CAROL E. LEE | 9/22/10 8:09 PM
NEW YORK—President Barack Obama was heckled multiple times during his speech at a Democratic fundraiser in one of the country’s most Democratic cities.
Demonstrators held signs that said “Broken Promises” and interrupted his speech to protest AIDS funding and the stalled repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy banning gays from serving openly in the military that Obama has promised to lift.
Obama showed a flash of irritation after he was forced repeatedly off his prepared remarks. “We listened to you, we heard your point,” he told the “young lady” who continued shouting at him about AIDS funding. “This is not the time or the place to do what you’re talking about.”
Obama also tried to make the most of the moment by pointing out that Republicans would be further away from the protestors on both of the issues they were complaining about.
His administration has increased AIDS funding, he said, but “the people that potentially will take over will cut AIDS funding if we don’t focus on this election.”
The “don’t ask, don’t tell” protest came moments later, as Obama began talking about how incomes for the middle class fell by 5 percent—a statement he had to repeat twice.
The president pointed out that this week Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ attempt to begin debating a bill that would have moved toward repealing the policy.
“And as a consequence some of those signs should be going up at the other folks’ event. Folks should be hollering at the other folks’ event,” he said, “because the choice in November could not be clearer.”
The heckling inside the ballroom at the Roosevelt Hotel began almost immediately at the start of Obama’s speech, when a woman began shouting, “President Obama, President Obama” and several men held up signs, including “No retreat, fund AIDS.” The woman eventually stopped shouting, but the men continued to hold up their signs, printed out on letter-sized sheets of paper.
One of the demonstrators, independent AIDS activist Jennifer Flynn, told a pool reporter she and her friends bought tickets to the reception but not to the dinner.
The fundraiser brought in an estimated $1.4 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its counterpart for the Senate.
Obama referenced the GOP’s “Pledge to America,” a set of proposed policy changes that House Republicans are scheduled to release Thursday. But Republicans running for Congress, he said, still want to spend the last two years of his first term pushing the policies during the eight years of the Bush administration.
“They might be announcing some new details tomorrow,” he said.
“But the chair of one of their campaign committees already told us their intentions,” he added, referring to National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas). “He said that if the other party takes control of Congress they plan to pursue—and I’m quoting—‘the exact same agenda’ as they did during the last administration.”
As he’s begun to do in recent weeks, Obama also took on an area where Republicans have an edge on Democrats: enthusiasm. The lack of enthusiasm among Democrats this election cycle is reflected in poll after poll.
“We need your energy and enthusiasm,” he told the 550 donors who had paid $100 to hear him speak.
“People are frustrated with the pace of change, and so am I, but I am also here to tell you this: We cannot lose heart. We cannot give up.”
Obama worked in a half-kidding dig at Democrats who are, as he said, sitting on their hands because they only got 80 percent of what they want.
And that wasn’t the only place where a lack of party unity was on display.
Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has tangled publicly with Obama over Rangel’s ethics woes, was in the audience.
Obama singled him out by name first as he praised New York’s “unbelievable delegation.”
The president also headlined a VIP reception, where tickets cost $2,500 each, and he spoke at a 125-person dinner, which featured Barbara Streisand and cost $15,200 a plate.