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Ellen DeGeneres, Cher Attend Obama’s LGBT Fundraiser

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Barack Obama basked in the support of his gay and lesbian backers Wednesday night, revving up an enthusiastic crowd with a pledge to block any attempt to roll back rights that gay Americans have gained under his administration.

With his public embrace of same-sex marriage just weeks old, a standing ovation with sustained applause greeted the president at a 600-person campaign fundraiser in Los Angeles for gay and lesbian supporters.

The president, nearing the end of a lengthy day of West Coast fundraising, appeared to feed off the energy of a crowd that included a handful of celebrities, including comedian Ellen DeGeneres and the singer Cher.

Making the case for his re-election, Obama said he would refuse to allow anyone to attempt to reinstate the military’s ban on openly gay service members, a measure the president had fought to repeal.

“That’s not something I will tolerate,” he said.

Some Republicans have said they would back the reinstatement of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law. Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican rival in the presidential race, is not among them.

Obama ticked through what he called his presidential “to-do” list, saying “we’ve gotten some stuff done over the last three-and-a-half years.” After launching into a passionate defense of his contested health care overhaul, he referred back to the to-do list. “Check,” he said.

The president expected to raise more than $5 million for his re-election campaign and the Democratic Party during fundraisers in San Francisco and Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday.

Earlier Wednesday during an event in San Francisco, Obama conceded that people around the country are wondering if he can keep his promise to build an economy designed for the long term. But he blasted opponents as offering nothing more than finger-pointing as a platform.

Obama told donors at the $5,000 per person fundraiser that “the other side” doesn’t have any new ideas.

“And because they don’t have any new ideas, what they will do is spend 500, 700, a billion dollars in negative ads and their simple message will be: This is someone else’s fault and that’s enough reason for you to vote for us,” he said.

“And,” he added, “if we don’t answer them, that can work.”

In “Virginia or Iowa or North Carolina or California, all across the country,” Obama said, “there are a lot of folks who are still wondering — are we going to be able to fully deliver on that promise of a country that is thriving and has an economy that is built to last?”

Obama offered no new prescriptions for how he would answer Americans’ economic questions. He said he’s pushing a number of bills in Congress aimed at boosting jobs and growth but has gotten little help from Republican lawmakers.

The president was introduced by Hall of Fame baseball player Willie Mays, a former outfielder for the New York Giants and San Francisco Giants.

Following his fundraising drive in California, Obama was heading to Nevada on Thursday for a speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The president planned to announce new steps to help college students repay their loans and his efforts to jumpstart the economy.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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