[Editor's Note: White House Local Pool reports contributed to this story.]
Following a cocktail reception with nearly 500 guests Monday at the , to attend a fundraiser at Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s oceanfront mansion.
Several dozen guests paid the at Weinstein’s 8,900 square-foot colonial style home that sits on Long Island Sound next to Burying Hill Beach.
In a room with a half-dozen tables covered with white table clothes, centerpieces of white flowers and short white candles, Weinstein spoke of the lessons Paul Newman had taught him over the years, including ‘volunteerism and being charitable.’
“Paul and Joanne talked about the real problems of America and they did, as you know, many things including building that great, great food business that’s donated $250 million to many good causes,” Weinstein said of award-winning actress Joanne Woodward and Newman. “I believe in the spirit of helping people.”
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Weinstein referred to President Obama as the ‘Paul Newman of American presidents.’
“We know he’s not afraid to throw a punch. Witness the raid on Osama bin Laden,” he said.
President Obama, who spoke for roughly 10 minutes, recognized both hosts, Aaron Sorkin and Anne Hathaway, and said that he had a chance to see the latest Batman movie starring Hathaway.
“She’s spectacular,” Obama said of her performance in “The Dark Knight Rises.” “She was the best thing in it. That’s just my personal opinion.”
Obama showed his appreciation for Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, emphasizing that their importance to the world went far beyond the film industry.
He continued to speak of the current state of affairs in politics and gave the crowd a sense of the "season" our nation is currently in.
“Unless you don’t have a TV set or your cable’s busted, you’re seeing an awful lot of stuff about politics,” Obama said to the group of guests during his brief speech. “The reason I think there’s so much intensity is because we got a choice that is stark and as critical as any I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
Obama said that our country has spent the past three and a half years "getting back on its feet."
“We’ve gotten on track but these gains are reversible,” he said, adding that Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, in many ways, want to "reverse gains we’ve made over the last 40 or 50 or 60 years."
The president referred to the Republican budget plan, which would mean either increasing the nation’s deficit by $5 trillion or eliminating funding for education, infrastructure, basic science and research and senior programs.
“Mitt Romney says he wants to eliminate fundraising for Planned Parenthood and I think he means it,” Obama said. “The good news is that you guys are the tiebreaker. You are the American people.”
Following the event, where four marine helicopters waited for takeoff at about 9 p.m.