President Obama speaks at a campaign fundraiser at the Paramount Theater… (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty…)
SEATTLE -- Before President Obama sat down for a television interview to announce he was now in favor of same-sex marriage, he received an apology from Vice President Joe Biden, the man whose own comments on the issue days earlier hastened the decision for Obama to go public with his long-awaited reversal.
According to a source familiar with the conversation, Biden expressed his regret for getting ahead of Obama on the issue, after he told NBC's David Gregory that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples being married.
A White House spokesman Thursday conceded that although Obama had already ended his personal "evolution" on the issue, he had not planned to announce it this soon. Biden hastened that announcement.
"The president has been the leader on this issue from day one, and the vice president never intended to distract from that," Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said.
Obama, in a segment of his ABC News interview that aired Thursday morning, said that Biden got "a little over his skis" with his comments Sunday. But Biden did it out of a "generosity of spirit," the president said.
"Would I have preferred to have done this in my own way?" Obama said. "Sure." But things turned out as they should have, he said.
Campaigning in Seattle on Thursday afternoon, Obama returned to an economic-themed critique of Mitt Romney’s vision for the country, with only oblique references to his announcement a day earlier.
Speaking to 2,000 supporters who paid $1,000 each to attend a fundraiser at the Paramount Theater, the president drew a burst of applause when he said Americans ought to be able to provide a better future for the next generation, “no matter who you love.”
The president’s roughly 35-minute address largely mirrored the stump speech he unveiled last weekend, in which he argued that Romney, the likely Republican nominee, would return the country to failed policies of the past.
Obama did note that Washington voters would have a chance to affirm legislation passed this year legalizing same-sex marriage, framing it as a decision about treating everyone “with dignity and respect.”
“You'll have your chance to have your voice heard,” Obama said.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, speaking before the president, opened by telling the crowd she was especially proud of him for his stand on same-sex marriage, adding that her state would "be the first to ratify it at the ballot box in the United States of America."
Obama is now en route to a star-studded fundraiser in the Studio City home of George Clooney. It was expected to pump $15 million in his reelection effort, believed to be the largest one-night campaign haul ever.
The soiree was being hosted by DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. About 150 people paid $40,000 each to attend — among them stars such as Barbra Streisand, Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr.
The Obama campaign held a contest for supporters across the nation, asking for donations of as little as $3 for a chance to win a spot at the dinner and air fare to Los Angeles.
Times staff writer Seema Mehta contributed to this report.