PORTLAND — At the Portland Museum of Art on Friday night, a saxophonist played for donors who dined on their salad course before President Obama entered the Great Hall.

The president was greeted by a warm and welcoming audience. About 130 people attended the fundraiser, paying a minimum of $5,000 each. Admission rates for the event went as high as a $30,000 contribution to the Democratic National Committee.

The event sold out two months ago. The Obama campaign would not disclose how much the dinner was expected to raise.

The fundraiser was put together by Bonnie Porta and Karen Harris, co-chairwomen of Obama’s state fundraising effort. The Cape Elizabeth residents are the only Mainers among Obama’s campaign contribution “bundlers.”

In introducing the president, Porta and Harris reminded the audience about the values and concerns they share with Obama and the need to work for his re-election on Nov. 6.

“You all know the issues and you know the contrasts facing us,” Harris said. “None of us, not one of us, wants to wake up on Nov. 7 and say – ask ourselves – ‘Did I do enough?’ “

Obama spoke of how the administration dealt with the nation’s financial crisis and recession, saying there’s a sense that the situation has stabilized. But, he said, there’s work that still needs attention.

“I ran for office not just to get back to the status quo. I ran for office – I ran for this office – because we had not tended to a set of challenges that had been building up for decades. And that’s why, even as we were trying to right the ship and yank ourselves out of a potential depression, we did not take our eye off the commitments that I had made to you when I ran for office,” he said.

The audience included former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, former Gov. John Baldacci, and Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, attended with her husband, S. Donald Sussman, and her daughter, former state Rep. Hannah Pingree.

Sussman, a contributor to Democratic and charitable causes, is the majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which owns the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets in Maine.

Porta is married to Robert C.S. Monks, a minority owner of MaineToday Media.

Obama spoke for a little less than 15 minutes, then held a question-and-answer session with the group. Reporters at the event – observing from the second floor above the Great Hall – were not allowed to attend. No press photographs of the event were permitted.

The audience asked questions about global warming, energy and campaign finance reform, Pingree said after the event.

Her daughter asked about the Affordable Care Act, which led Obama to tell the audience not to read too much into the body language of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and the importance of appointments to the high court.

The president left after the question-and-answer period. It wasn’t clear if he ate before his remarks, but he did not dine with the donors, who were served a meal consisting largely of Maine-sourced products.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: AnnKimPPH