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You might not see many pics of Obama raising money with Beyonce

September 13, 2012|By James Rainey
  • A file photo of Beyonce singing during a music video this year. Beyonce has joined President Obama's fundraising efforts, asking for donations of $15 or more.
A file photo of Beyonce singing during a music video this year. Beyonce has… (Cliff Watts / EPA )

“I usually don’t email you,” said the message from Beyonce on Thursday, and maybe it was my imagination, but it sounded a bit breathy.

The superstar singer, or her online facsimile,  was emailing scads of common folk to invite them to donate $15 or more to President Obama, for the chance to club it with the prez, the pop diva, her husband Jay-Z and a bunch of other high rollers.

The drawing will send a couple of winners to New York City next week, where they will do that thing the glitterati do when they raise money for Obama. The shindig has been set for Tuesday night at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club in Chelsea.

The big opportunity for the incumbent, with most paying guests forking over $40,000 to attend, does not come without risk. Remember, this is the same politician whom John McCain painted in 2008 as “The Biggest Celebrity in the World.”

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That spin on Obama seemed to get some traction four years ago. The then-lightly experienced U.S. senator did, after all, get rhapsodic attention from “Entertainment Tonight” favorites. McCain’s camp even aired that ad, mashing together images of the Democrat with those of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Obama’s turn with the young fantastics comes just a short time after a Democratic convention at which celebrities — like  Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson, Mary J. Blige, James Taylor and the Foo Fighters — lavished praise and attention on him. The two actresses — for their part — reminded the delegates of their humble roots and how they believed Obama would defend families like the ones they grew up in.

But these celebrity moments don’t make the most helpful visual for a Democratic campaign trying to show the public that it is the wealthy Republican businessman, Mitt Romney, who is hopelessly out of touch with the common man.

So don’t expect much, if any, press access to the Beyonce-Jay-Z fete. It’s doubtful that Team Obama wants video of the “opulent lounge setting” at the 40/40. Americans like to see their president enjoying himself, sure. But too much chilling with the swells in “the lavish warmth of a New York City penthouse”  (the 40/40’s description on its website) might strike those who are struggling as just a little too-too.

The president has had previous celebrity fundraisers that got lots of notice in advance. Recall many missives written about the “Obama Classic,” the August basketball game featuring NBA stars. But that attention came before the event. Once it happened it was hard to find a picture or video anywhere.

The result then and next week in New York City: the chance for the president to raise lots of money, without leaving the impression that he spends all his time with the 1%.

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james.rainey@latimes.com

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MORE COMMENTARY FROM JAMES RAINEY:

Romney should triple-down on Libya: Rally with Rev. Jones!

Obama's pizza man, Romney's doughnuts and the politics of food

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