Author Deepak Chopra, co-host of a gala fundraiser for President Obama's reelection, has long supported Democratic candidates, but he says he's "stepping up" his fundraising this year.
"My observation of the Republican primary campaign is that it has pandered to the ultra-ideologues in the political arena. It has also made the whole atmosphere really jingoistic," Chopra said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "I feel it has been so reactionary and President Obama has basically tried to counter thirty years of reactionary conditioning, and he definitely deserves a second chance to take it further."
Chopra is co-hosting the gala, one of four New York City fundraisers Thursday night for the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, with Russell Simmons and former New York Congressional candidate Reshma Saujani at ABC Kitchen near Union Square. Comedian Aziz Ansari, Ben Folds Five, The Roots and Ingrid Michaelson will perform. Tickets require a $1,000 contribution.
Chopra said the fundraiser is targeted particularly to Asian-American supporters of the president.
"Since President Obama spent his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia, he definitely has deep ties to the Asian-American community," Chopra said. "He understands that America is not just one WASP community, but a community that is global."
Asian American voters made up 2.5 percent of the electorate in 2008, a record, and they supported Obama over John McCain by a margin of 62 to 35 percent.
The president's other fundraisers on Thursday night include a reception at a private home where tickets start at $5,000, another private reception at a home with tickets starting at $10,000, and a dinner at ABC Kitchen that require a $35,800 contribution.
Chopra said it has not been difficult to raise money at what he called a "built-in community" of progressives at ABC Kitchen, where he's hosted "Love in Action" conversations on politics. But he said despite Obama's urging, he has not decided whether he will also donate to Priorities USA Action, the SuperPAC raising unlimited contributions in support of the president's reelection.
"I don't know at this point," Chopra said. "But I intuitively do not support corporations giving large amounts of money to politicians."