This past Thursday (Mar. 2), blocks away from Madison Square Park, President Obama hosted a magnificent fundraiser dinner for his top campaign contributors at New York's famed ABC Kitchen. The crowd was filled with a mix of both artisans and philanthropists. Campaign supporters were treated to a customized menu by celebrity chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and an after party hosted by Comic-In-Cheif, Aziz Ansari and music from The Roots.
Russell Simmons, the prolific Obama supporter, was on hand at last night's festivities and shared his thoughts on the 2012 Obama campaign exclusively with VIBE.com --Robbie Sokolowsky
VIBE: You are supporting the Obama election campaign for a second time. What is the biggest difference between 2008 campaign and 2012 campaign?
Russell Simmons: 2008 was great! The 2012 campaign is only different in that now we’ve got something to protect – which I’d argue is even more motivating. We need four more years so President Obama can continue to fight for the middle class and underserved communities.
You recently designed a custom polo shirt for the "Runway To Win" initiative alongside fashion elite Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu. Talk about the strategy and success of this initiative.
I designed a shirt for the campaign in 2008 and agreed to participate again when I was asked this year. Like I’ve said before, I am really inspired that we have a President that appreciates the artistic community and “Runway To Win” was the community’s way of showing its support for the President. Culture has always led the way for great change to occur in this country and once again artists are using their expression to raise awareness about what we believe is important.
Will you be collaborating with any recording artists on a similar music initiative for the Obama campaign?
Nothing is in the works yet, but we’ll just have to wait and see. The President inspires so many Americans – who knows what will come together.
Which issues do you see as the most important to be addressed during this campaign?
I think it all comes back to this issue of values and compassion. The President is fighting to restore that basic sense of security and fairness that so many people feel we’ve lost. President Obama is a guy who believes that we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper – that we’re all in this together. The President has made tremendous progress on a number of issues from ending the war in Iraq to job creation and Wall Street reform, however there are many of his policies that need time to go into effect and we have a lot more work to do. It’s my hope that in his second term, the President will turn a significant amount of his attention towards getting the money out of politics and returning our democracy back to the people.
What is the most effective way for our VIBE readers to show support for the President and his re-election campaign and get the message out?
Well, the easiest thing you can do is to talk to your friends and neighbors - on the street, at the dinner table, anywhere. Talk about what’s at stake in 2012. Listen, President Obama can’t do it alone – he needs us again this time, he needs us out there working hard to get him re-elected. And stay informed. I always tell people to go to the campaign’s website -www.barackobama.com - to see people’s stories from across the country and get the latest.