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Obama visits Conn. for Hollywood cash

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Tea party protesters and film stars were on hand yesterday to greet President Barack Obama, who came to Connecticut to raise money for his re-election campaign.

The Democrat was the main attraction at a $500 per-person fundraising reception at the Stamford Marriott, which drew several hundred people, including top state Democrats such as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Reps. Jim Himes, Rosa DeLauro and Chris Murphy. Later in the evening, the president attended a $35,800 per-person dinner at the Westport home of movie producer Harvey Weinstein, where the hosts include actresses Anne Hathaway and Joanne Woodward and writer Aaron Sorkin.

Both events were expected to bring in at least $2.5 million for Obama's campaign.

Outside the Marriott, where there was a heavy police presence, about 75 protesters were on hand chanting "hey, hey, ho, ho, Barack Obama's got to go." In support of the demonstrators, Palin Smith, 64, of Woodbury, brought the crowd 100 sandwiches from Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chain at the center of a national debate over gay marriage.

Jim Berger, 65, a retired small-business owner, traveled from Valhalla, N.Y., for the rally. He voiced concern about the level of government spending during Obama's first term.

"We've spent trillions of dollars," he said. "We have no jobs to show for it. The economy hasn't improved."

Adam Fetcher, deputy national press secretary for the president's re-election campaign, said Obama believes "there are steps we can take to support a strong business climate, like investing in education, energy, innovation and infrastructure."

The president made that point during his address in Stamford, promising that "after a decade at war, I think it's time to do some nation-building at home." He said he'd like to spend those resources on schools, roads and employing veterans.

Obama later urged the crowd to help him "finish what we started in 2008" and "show the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth." Weinstein told the audience at his Westport home, where two Academy Awards sat on the mantle, that Obama showed he was "not afraid to throw a punch. Witness the raid on Osama bin Laden. You can make the case that he's the Paul Newman of American presidents."

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