By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel has made no secret of his disapproval of President Barack Obama's decision to use U.S. military force in Libya, but that didn't keep the Harlem Democrat from attending the president's events on Tuesday night.
Rangel was in attendance at the $30,000 per head fundraiser that Obama hosted for the Democratic National Committee at Red Rooster Harlem and the invitation-only reception at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
"That he disagrees with the president shouldn't come as a shock because he is an independently elected official," said Rangel campaign spokesman Bob Liff. "The fact that he disagrees doesn't change the closeness and the support he has for the president. He has said Obama is the most exciting and best president he has worked with."
Rangel was adamant in his opposition of the U.S. involvement in Libya when asked last week.
"You have to decide how many lives you are willing to lose for oil," Rangel told DNAinfo.
Rangel said he would be at a loss for words if an American pilot from his district was shot down over Libya and the pilot's parents asked why.
"What the hell am I going to tell them," Rangel said. "There is no threat to America at this time."
The guest list for Tuesday's functions has remained pretty tight, but aides for former New York City Mayor David Dinkins also confirmed to DNAinfo on Tuesday that he would be in attendance.
Obama addressed the nation last night in a televised speech designed to explain the decision to authorize the use of military force in Libya. Obama said he wanted to prevent a massacre there while reassuring the country that regime change or the involvement of U.S. ground troops was not on his agenda.
"I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action," Obama said.
Rangel was not be the only one at Tuesday's events who opposes the president's decision on Libya.
A coalition of groups called the Harlem Fight Back Against Wars At Home and Abroad plan a protest this evening on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and West 125th Street, said Nelly Bailey, president of the Harlem Tenants Council and an organizer of the group.
"We want this to be a wake up call for black America. We used to occupy the moral center in this country but we have abandoned that moral center established by Martin Luther King Jr. and acquiesced to unforgivable silence because Barack Obama is the first black president," Bailey said.
Rangel spokesman Liff said Obama's visit carries a lot of symbolism for Harlem.
"We know Harlem is the center of the world so its pretty exciting that a president linked to the history and what Harlem is and what Harlem has struggled for is highlighting this community," he said.
"This is not just any president, this is Barack Obama, and this is Harlem," he said.