(CNN) - President Barack Obama took his act to New York on Thursday as the featured attraction at three back-to-back fundraisers, where he touted his progressive credentials, including support for equal rights for gay couples.
Obama kicked off his evening at the LGBT Leadership Council gala at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan. After condemning discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, the president drew rigorous applause when he addressed same-sex couples.
"I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every couple in this country," Obama said.
The president, who during the 2008 campaign said he wouldn't promote same-sex marriage but did support civil unions, did not use the word "marriage" in his speech. His speech came amid some frustration that Obama, even given his efforts to rescind the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibiting gays from serving openly, has not gone far or fast enough in backing gay rights.
In his speech, Obama acknowledged that the "change" he'd promised wouldn't be easy, nor would it always be quick.
"I did not run for president to do easy things," he said. "It was time for us to do hard things, the big things, even if it was going to take time."
About 600 people paid $1,250 apiece to attend the event. They included Jane Lynch of "Glee" and the night's master of ceremonies, Neil Patrick Harris of "How I Met Your Mother."
Before the event, the Republican National Committee jabbed at Harris' show, putting out an e-mail titled "Legen – Wait for it," which is a blog for updates on "How I Met Your Mother." The e-mail went on to say "Obama heads to the Big Apple for a round of celebrity-studded fundraisers while Americans are desperate for economic leadership from the president."
Obama also attended a $35,800 a plate fundraiser at Daniel, Chef Daniel Boulud's Upper East Side restaurant.
The third fundraiser for Obama was a performance of "Sister Act" at the Broadway Theater, for hundreds of guests, including actor Whoopi Goldberg. Tickets for the performance started at $100 per person.
Earlier Thursday, in a release ahead of the president's fundraisers, RNC spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said that "while President Obama tries to escape the pressures of his failed economic policies with a fundraiser in New York, millions remain out of work and are beginning to realize that the only job our president is concerned about is his own."
The Democratic National Committee was quick to respond.
"Republicans are getting hammered in their districts from coast-to-coast for embracing a plan that kicks seniors to the curb by ending Medicare and because they have not presented a single idea in the past six months to create jobs. Republicans would fare better if they spent more time working to find solutions to the nation's problems rather than engaging in typical, cheap Washington political tricks," DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said in a statement to CNN.
The money raised from the fundraisers will go to the Obama Victory Fund, with the proceeds shared by the president's re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
This is the second night this week Obama has headlined fundraisers. He was the main attraction at two fundraisers at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the nation's capital Monday. Vice President Joe Biden headlined a fundraiser in Chicago on Tuesday.
Democratic sources said the Obama Victory Fund hopes to bring in $60 million by the end of the second quarter, which comes to a close at the end of the month. Most people remember that Obama shattered all records by raising nearly $750 million in his bid for the White House in 2008, but what isn't as well known is that he brought in $59 million for his presidential campaign during the first half of 2007.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
Yawn. This is what EVERY president does when it comes time to run for their second term. Non-issue, non-story...just more knee-jerk weapons of mass distraction from the GOP. I repeat...YAWN.
The only thing Obama has been truely reliable on, Fundraising while the world burns ...
What's the matter preibus and republikans/tea baggers A little scared that your list of clowns contiues to grow but you still don't have anyone who can beat a tortoise in a foot race?
I know of republicans who have sent money to the President for his 2012 campaign because of your list of losers.
Sound to me the GOP is just jealous thaey can raise these types of funds for the general. Of course, if a Republican were in the WH, this would be roundly applauded A party of hyprocrites, complainers and losers.
I know republicans hate that President Obama not only will win re election, but probably coast into it. They also seem to have no shame in the blatant tantrums they throw regarding presidential behavior that is in no way unusual. Is it fair to say that the President is simply beating them at their own game? (and handily too...) Hmmmm... The funny part will come in about 5 or 6 years, if a republican ever does make it to the Whitehouse. Then their hypocrisy will be easily recalled, rerun, and re-posted through multiple forms of media. They're truly cutting down their feet to fit the shoe. May get you what you want in the short term, but in the long run you'll have a permanently gimp limb... Not smart...
@ed – once again the President goes to the middle to try to appease both "people like you" and the lefties.
Yes, he wants another term and he is going to get it so get over it right now BTW 2010 was last year. The coming election is in 2012.
I see that the traitor from AK is "still in the running". That IS the joke of the century and it will stay as such because there can't be another bigger piece of human trash alive or to be spawned to beat her.
It's time for all you Kool-Aiders to break out your check books. But then again, aren't democRATS all about spending other people's money?
The hypocrisy of the Republicans knows no bounds. They're criticizing the president and Democrats on the issue of jobs while not having presented a single jobs' bill since they've held the House?! Not only that, they continue to obstruct when the Democrats try to put forth any jobs' legislation.
these $38,000 diners are what wrong with this country... special interest run the politicians....you know there is reason they have the president ear.... its so they can make huge amounts of money , so $38000 is peanuts... pathedic..
GOP is afraid he might raise enough money to fight their campaign of lies.
Republicans are jealous and pissed because President Obama is at fundraisers aquiring funds from Democras, Independents and yes from Republicans too. This is what politicians do to get funds to campaign with and Republicans are no different excep that it was OK when they went to Wallstreet to solicite funds for their support.
'YES WE CAN' and send Obama pink slip in 2012. No more experiment.
When will the repugs get a policy which actually works for the American people. They keep relishing the sale tricke down bush policies which have proven for 10 years that it doesnt work. Obama need to stop letting these repugs give the corporations money which hide trillions of dollars in other countries from the our tax man. Supporting other countries and leaving ours to rot. We need the president to start nation building. And stop letting the repugs use the budget to stop your agenda of creating millions of jobs and bringing back thousand of industries back on American soil.
When the Repugs had their fundraiser, they had star studded people there, but this was fine and dandy. But, because President Obama's guest list is more star studded, they're complaining. Instead of always complaining and whining, why haven't they at least put forth some type of plan for the economy, jobs, education, medicare, etc. They need to stop using President Obama as their campaign platform, and show the American people that they are for real!
So the President has a fundraiser for his re-election bid, that is normal. To me this is a non-story and why the Republicans are concerned is beyond me. At that price, I hope everyone enjoys it.
I am a conservative and we need to remain focused on the real issues which are jobs, the economy, three wars, escalating out of control debt, immigration, and health care. These are issues that surround us all regardless of what party you belong to or not.
What jobs has this president created? For eleven weeks straight jobless claims have risen over 400,000 per week. Unemployment is over 9.1%. Tell me, what has this president done for this country? Name me one thing.
Do you really want this president to start nation building within this country. He's already proven he has no idea what he's doing when he says we have "shovel ready jobs."
It's telling about your emotional age when you start your rants by calling people names. Grow up.
The President is doing a fine job.
This is what Presidents who are running for re-election do. Get over it.
I understand that it takes large sums of money to campaign, but $35,800 a plate dinner is crazy. Yes, I understand that all parties do this, but it only shows how out of touch they are with reality.
Boy! these Rep. envy the president so much they all political set on a mud flat and watch him cross it and only can look. Stop complaining and get up work instead of waiting for somebody give you the election.
So? The GOP has the Koch brothers with all their notoriety and billions backing them. And let's not forget Pat Boone...
Whining babies, every one of them. This is what every president does so grow up and do what you said you'd do...WHERE ARE THE JOBS? Of course since you want the ecomony to stay like it is until the campaign you haven't done what you said you would......what a surprise
Obama for 2012!!!!!
LMAO! Republican whine much? Why was it ok when they had their fundraising dinner?