Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg, Star Jones at Michelle Obama fund-raiser. POOL REPORT

SHARE Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg, Star Jones at Michelle Obama fund-raiser. POOL REPORT
SHARE Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg, Star Jones at Michelle Obama fund-raiser. POOL REPORT

below, pool report from fund-raiser headlined by First Lady Michelle Obama in New York on Monday…

FLOTUS arrived inside a small back room of Locanda Verde restaurant on Greenwich Street in TriBeCa at 8:52 pm for an event hosted by Robert de Niro and his wife Grace Hightower. (De Niro owns the restaurant and the accompanying Greenwich Hotel.)

She arrived to raucous applause from a crowd of about 85 after the host couple had each warmed up the crowd.

Speaking behind a glass lectern on a small riser, Mr. De Niro started by deadpanning: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” The crowd roared and someone yelled “no!” as De Niro asked, “Too soon, right?”

At the first mention of POTUS there were big cheers. Later De Niro mentioned keeping the president until “2006.” One guest at the bar, behind which pool was stationed, said “don’t turn the calendar back now.”

Hightower, in a shimmering sleeveless dress, cited a number of POTUS’ accomplishments while leading the crowd in a refrain of “keeping the focus on creating a better America.” She said he had been up against “dissenting voices, and I’d like to say, vampire energies.” She called FLOTUS “a stunner…even Republicans can agree with that,” and she reiterated the need to keep the first couple for four more years. “Then we might think about asking Michelle what are her thoughts…”

Before FLOTUS’ arrival, producer and Obama fundraiser Harvey Weinstein and singer Beyonce were spotted leaving the room and walking through the main restaurant, which remained open to the public (and where pool was holding before being allowed in for the remarks).

Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles was on the host committee, along with Star Jones, who lounged on a leather couch near the riser, and Whoopi Goldberg, who was milling about in the center of the room. Gayle King and Angela Bassett were also in attendance. Ben Stiller stood in the back of the room in a black shirt and black blazer, near a woodwind trio set up in front of a big stone fireplace.

FLOTUS entered wearing a silver and black sleeveless dress and called the De Niros “a dynamic duo in their own right.” She joked about seeing familiar faces she could “blame for getting us into this mess.”

FLOTUS ran through a list of her husband’s accomplishments, with frequent cheers and amens from the crowd. When she mentioned the first bill POTUS signed, a few people correctly yelled out the Lily Ledbetter Act. After talking about health care and the new law allowing kids to stay longer on their parents’ insurance, she said, “can I get an amen?”

She also drew applause when talking about the president’s Supreme Court appointees and how they would impact privacy, security, “whether we can speak freely and yes, love whomever we choose.”

At one point, a woman who appeared to be feeling faint had to be taken to the couch to sit down.

FLOTUS joked about someone near the front with her shoes off and, as she started wrapping up, pointed to a young girl with her mother and said “baby’s got to go to sleep!”

After nearly 28 minutes she asked, “final question to you all: are you in?” The crowd cheered louder and louder as she pressed them about whether they were really in. She left, waving and blowing kisses and stopping for a brief hug with the young girl she had pointed out earlier, as the crowd started a “fired up! Ready to go!” chant.

After bidding their guests goodbye, the De Niros held court for a small group in the corner of the lobby.

Per a campaign official, tickets began at $5,000 and benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee.

Reid Pillifant

Capital New York

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