On West Coast, Obama courts campaign donors (AP)
LOS ANGELES – Courting donors in Democrat-rich California, President Barack Obama is raising millions of dollars for his re-election bid while warning supporters that a long campaign awaits.
Obama was holding four fundraisers Thursday in the Los Angeles area and in San Francisco, reeling in campaign cash from reliable Democratic donors at a time when the Republican presidential contest remains unsettled. The president was expected to raise more than $8 million from events that will take him from Los Angeles and San Francisco on Thursday to the Seattle area on Friday.
At the posh home of a Hollywood soap opera producer, the president urged Democrats to mobilize, telling supporters that the 2012 election “is not going to be easier this time. It’s going to be harder this time.”
“People out there are hurting and they need us to do more,” Obama said on a star-studded night that included a performance by the Foo Fighters and appearances by actors Jack Black and Rashida Jones.
Obama later told donors at an intimate dinner — including actors George Clooney and Jim Belushi — that he understood that some of his supporters remain frustrated that the war in Afghanistan has yet to end and the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remains open. He reminded the guests that former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo often referred to campaigning in poetry and governing in prose.
“We’ve been slogging through prose for the last three years,” Obama said. “People, they like the poetry.”
California has been a mainstay of Democratic party fundraising — and a reliably blue state — and Obama’s campaign expected to collect millions from six events in Los Angeles and San Francisco over two days.
On Thursday, Obama was attending a fundraising luncheon in Corona del Mar, Calif., outside Los Angeles, with 125 supporters paying tickets starting at $2,500.
The president was then traveling to San Francisco, where he was meeting with 20 supporters paying $35,800 per person, and then attending a dinner for 70 people paying the same amount.
A larger fundraiser was planned at the Nob Hill Masonic Center for 2,500 people, featuring a performance by singer Chris Cornell. Tickets started at $100 for the reception. The events support the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The president raised more than $220 million for his campaign and the DNC in 2011 and is trying to use a protracted Republican presidential primary to build a financial buffer zone to help his cause in the November general election. Democrats have warned that outside groups supporting Republicans will pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the campaign against Obama.
Obama was making his first fundraising trip outside Washington since his campaign announced it would encourage supporters to donate to a Democratic super PAC backing Obama’s re-election. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives do not plan to appear at events for the super PAC, Priorities USA.
It was also Obama’s first trip to Hollywood since Congress delayed action on legislation cracking down on online piracy. The legislation was pushed by the film industry and garnered major opposition from Internet companies, pitting two Democratic constituencies against each other, before it stalled.
Obama has said any legislation must protect intellectual property that creates jobs in the U.S., while still respecting the integrity of the Internet as an open system. The president made no mention of the issue during remarks Wednesday.
The president was traveling along the West Coast as Congress reached a tentative agreement to extend a payroll tax cut that would mean an extra $40 per paycheck for a typical family, along with an extension of unemployment benefits. The payroll tax break was as the heart of Obama’s jobs plan.
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