President Obama plunged into donor-rich New York on Wednesday, his first fundraising sweep of the city since announcing his re-election bid this month, with a lament that his wish for less-polarizing politics has not been realized.
"The hope that I had that we'd start coming together in a serious way has been resisted," Obama told contributors gathered at the Manhattan home of financier and former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.
Obama said he intends to make next year's campaign an "election in which we're not just talking slogans but we are looking soberly at the choices we face."
The president reached out to donors on a whirlwind day that began by taking on "birthers" who dispute he was born in the United States and producing his detailed birth certificate. He also flew home to Chicago to help pal and supporter Oprah Winfrey close out her syndicated talk show with a "big get" -- an interview with him.
"Today was a fun day," Obama said as he entered his first fundraising event. "Nobody checked my ID at the door. But it was also a serious day because part of what happened this morning was me trying to remind the press and trying to remind both parties that what we do in politics is not a reality show. It's serious."
The three Democratic Party fundraisers in New York were scheduled across midtown Manhattan, including a dinner in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Obama was not due back at the White House until the wee hours of today. He was expected to raise $2 million to $3 million.
In Chicago, Obama and his wife, Michelle, took turns answering Winfrey's questions during a taped interview in her studio, her show's first interview with a sitting president and first lady. Winfrey has announced that she will end her top-rated program May 25 after a quarter-century on television.
The Obamas' interview is scheduled to air Monday.
The show released one excerpt from the interview, an exchange about his decision to produce his Hawaii birth certificate. Laughing, he said: "Can I just say? I was there, so I knew that I knew I had been born. I remembered it."
Winfrey's relationship with the Obamas dates to their days in Chicago, and she lent her credibility and celebrity status to his 2008 presidential campaign with her first political endorsement.
From Corzine's home, Obama headed to Park Avenue for a dinner in the Waldorf-Astoria, followed by a concert-style event in the Town Hall theater primarily for his younger supporters and featuring the Roots, a hip-hop band from Philadelphia.