Obama raises money in California
By Scott Wilson
SAN FRANCISCO -- President Obama raised nearly $2 million Tuesday evening in a series of fundraisers on friendly ground, helping out Democratic senators in general and one in particular, Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is facing a difficult race for a third term.
Obama gave a pair of speeches at the Fairmont Hotel here that highlighted his position on two issues important to the Golden State -- immigration reform and offshore oil drilling, which he discussed in the context of the disastrous gulf oil spill.
On the first, Obama reiterated his opposition to Arizona's new immigration law, which he said came up during his meeting earlier in the day with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill.
"I said to them, 'I disagree with this Arizona law,' " Obama said, adding that he also told them he understood their frustration over the nation's porous southwestern border.
Obama said he urged Republican senators to work with him "if we actually want to solve the problem rather than just score political points." Some Senate Republicans left the meeting critical of what they said was Obama's heavy-handed partisan approach to immigration and other issues.
On the gulf oil spill, Obama said he has told his staff to put "every bit" of energy into cleaning it up. On Friday, he will visit Louisiana, where he is expected to announce tougher standards for future offshore oil drilling, banned for decades off the California coast following a major spill near Santa Barbara in 1969.
In 2008, then-President George W. Bush lifted the presidential moratorium, and Congress allowed its ban to lapse a few months later. But earlier this month, senators from California, Washington and Oregon introduced a bill that would ban drilling off the entire West Coast, citing the gulf spill as the evidence that it is not environmentally safe.
Obama told the audience Tuesday that the government must "revisit how these oil companies are operating."
In his second speech, Obama struck a more partisan note, reprising his metaphor of choice for framing the November elections.
With the economy showing signs of life, Obama has said Republicans are asking for the keys to the car back, now that the Democrats have pulled it out of the ditch.
He added a small twist Tuesday, telling Republicans that "if you want to get in, we'll give you a ride. But we're not going to let you drive." A few people in the audience shouted, "No keys."
But the event -- and the hundreds of people who lined the streets to get a glimpse of his visit to this famously liberal city -- also highlighted the pressure Obama is feeling from the left wing of his party.
At the Fairmont, he was heckled by an audience member who demanded that he move faster to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The White House this week endorsed a compromise designed to lift the ban in the months ahead.
Some demonstrators also held aloft anti-war posters and signs calling on Obama to "break up the banks."
Following the Fairmont events, Obama headed to a private fundraiser at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty.
The Fairmont cocktail reception cost $250 to $500 per person. The VIP reception cost $2,000, which bought "premium standing area" at the reception, according to the invitation.
The dinner, which included a photo with Obama, cost $35,200 per couple and $17,000 for an individual. An official from Boxer's campaign said 1,000 people attended the fundraisers with roughly 100 of them paying for the dinner.
A Democratic Party official said the events were expected to bring in
$1.7 million. Of that, $1.1 million will go to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $600,000 to the Boxer campaign.
May 26, 2010; 1:06 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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