Obama Returns For Harvard Love

Law School profs hold fundraiser to welcome Senator back to Cambridge

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M. PATRICIA Li

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Harvard Law School graduate and presidential candidate, arrived at the home of Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law David B. Wilkins ’77 for a $2,300-a-plate fundraiser last night.

One of Harvard Law School’s most beloved sons swooped into Cambridge yesterday evening for an intimate, high-dollar fundraising event with about 150 of his former professors, classmates, and their friends.

“We love being in Boston,” Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat and a 1991 graduate of the Law School, said as he entered the event.

“It’s nice to be back in Cambridge, particularly after I paid off all my parking tickets,” he added referring to his recent public reconciliation with City Hall.

Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law David B. Wilkins ’77 hosted the event at his Cambridge home, a forest-green Victorian with orange trim tucked at the bottom of a hill near Brattle Street.

The $2,300-a-person event, which was closed to the press and the public, featured no shortage of political heavyweights.

“I’m the most senior member of the party,” Henry Morgenthau III, the scion of the Morgenthau clan that served as advisers to Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, said as he approached Crimson reporters. It was not clear whether the 90-year-old was referring to the Democratic Party or to the evening’s gathering.

Alan D. Solomont, a major Massachusetts Democratic operative and a former national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was one the last guests to arrive. When he was greeted at the gate by volunteers and an event organizer, one commented: “Now we can really get started.”

The political guns were no match for the academic ones. Obama’s former professors and classmates turned out in force, enthusiastically supporting the man who was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review and later a lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

One of Obama’s former professors, Loeb University Professor Laurence H. Tribe ’62, helped organize the event.

Tribe, who has called Obama “a political and rhetorical genius,” pulled up to Wilkins’ house in a red Toyota Prius just before 7 p.m. The law professor then proceeded to park illegally, facing the wrong way on a one-way street.

Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield, who organized an alliance of law schools to fight the military’s policy regarding openly gay service-members, said outside the house that “a Barack Obama presidency would do more to repair our broken reputation in the world than anything or anyone else.”

When asked if he knew Obama, Boston attorney Joseph L. Stanganelli, one of Obama’s Law School classmates, answered: “Everyone knew him, and everyone who knew him knows that he’s the real deal.”

—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at pbhayani@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Samuel P. Jacobs can reached at jacobs@fas.harvard.edu.