The White House hit back hard Wednesday at charges that President Barack Obama is spending too much time courting celebrities for campaign cash and star endorsements at a time when many Americans are struggling.
Asked about conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's mockery of the president as "Barack Hussein Kardashian," Obama's press secretary Jay Carney shot back: "Two words: Donald Trump. Next question."
Trump is an outspoken supporter of Mitt Romney who has served as something of a foil for Team Obama, which frequently notes his support for discredited "birther" claims that Obama was born overseas.
Obama's reelection campaign has harnessed the starpower of celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, George Clooney and Jon Bon Jovi, and recently featured "Vogue" editor Anna Wintour in an ad. Carney's comments to reporters aboard Air Force One came as the president jetted to California for a set of fundraisers â" including one where "Glee" star Darren Criss will perform and another at the home of "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy.
On Tuesday, Limbaugh hammered Obama's celebrity connections, highlighting his campaign's decision to release an ad starring Wintour on Friday â" even as the government released grim jobs data.
"It's an indication once again how out of touch they really are, how distanced they have become from the people who make this country work.Â It's an indication of what they think the strong drawing power of the presidency is.Â He's becoming Barack Kardashian.Â I'll tell you that's what's becoming.Â He is becoming the male Kim Kardashian with this stuff," Limbaugh said.
Asked a second time whether the president might be sending the wrong message, Carney said that Obama's millions of mostly anonymous small donors better reflected his campaign's true nature.
"The difference between President Obama's support, financial support, and his opponent's is stark, but not in the way that you describe. The fundamental difference is President Obama has vast numbers of small donors who support his campaign," Carney said. "That is not the case for the Republican nominee."
"The fact that the president enjoys that kind of support speaks to what his policy priorities are. He's out there fighting for the middle class," said Carney. "The bedrock foundation of his support are the millions and millions of Americans who believe in his vision for this country's future and believe that he has their back."
So is Obama himself a "Glee" fan? Does he have a favorite character?
"I don't know the answer to your question," Carney said.