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January 20, 2012

President Obama campaigns with a song in his heart, on his lips

The leader of the free world burst into Al Green's "Let’s Stay Together" at a fundraiser last night at the Apollo Theater -- a tribute, he said, to the Rev. Green, who was in attendance.

"I am so in love with you," Obama crooned, to applause. To the audience, he said: "Those guys didn't think I would do it. I told you I was going to do it. Don't worry, Rev, I cannot sing like you. But I just wanted to show my appreciation."

He joked that "Sandman did not come out," a refererence to the late Howard "Sandman" Sims, the onetime vaudeville tap-dancer who gave the hook to failed acts on amateur nights on TV's Showtime at the Apollo.

The fundraiser was Obama's fourth of the night -- including one at director Spike Lee's house -- and he landed back at the White House at 12:30 a.m. Friday. As he had previously, Obama noted how much further to the right Republicans have moved since 2008 -- when he said his GOP rival "was not a climate-change denier," favored broad immigration reform and opposed torture.

"The contrast this year could not be sharper," he said.

At Lee's house on the Upper East Side, Obama told the crowd that he took Michelle Obama to see Lee's Do the Right Thing for their first official date and thus has "always had a soft spot for Spike Lee" in his heart.

"Spike wasn't maybe quite as famous, as the movie had just come out, and I was showing my sophistication in selecting this independent filmmaker, and she was impressed," Obama said. "I think you helped me out that day. It worked out."

He joked about whether attendees might want to "wander off " to watch the Republican debate, for "some motivation," prompting donors to laugh and one to shout: "No thank you."

He told the donors he was "absolutely confident we're going to win this thing...The reason I’m confident is I have extraordinary faith in the American people. "


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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