President Obama – protesters using horns outside his fundraisers in San Francisco – click to read


Subject: Travel pool report No. 8 — DNC fundraiser


Travel Pool Report No. 8 – DNC fundraiser


President Obama spoke at a DNC fundraiser in San Francisco at SFJazz. He address more than 400 supporters, who contributed up to $15,000 each, according to a DNC official.


Outside the venue, a few dozen protesters used air horns and other instruments to loudly protest the president’s visit and urge him to stop the Keystone Pipeline.


Inside the venue, supporters sat in three tiers of a modern auditorium built for jazz music, with the seating coming up around three sides. President Obama spoke from the stage at a simple podium before an American flag. Obama acknowledged some special guests who sat in the front rows – former homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano, who now runs the University of California system; San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee; California Attorney General Kamala Harris; Reps. Mike Honda, Eric Swalwell and Barbara Lee. Obama also recognized Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding and other musicians who were seated in the second tier level, and he regretted he could not hear them perform earlier.


In his remarks, Obama spoke about his “crazy” job and how complicated it can get. He said nobody’s always entirely happy with every decision he makes, and that his hair has gotten a lot grayer. He said he gets up every morning thinking back to why he got involved in public service in the first place and thinking back to his own family story – about his grandfather fighting in World War II and coming back to benefit from the GI bill and about his grandmother who worked her way up from a secretary to vice president of a bank.


Obama said he thinks about that progression, and the opportunities for his own daughters and family, and sees the same story of hope repeated over and over again. He spoke of “this belief in an America where if you could work hard you could make it.”


Obama said his administration had made “enormous progress” on a range of issues, from the economic recovery and expanding financial assistance to young people who want to go to college to the health care law and ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and saving the auto industry. “You go down the list and it’s been pretty productive,” Obama said.


Obama also spoke about challenges for people who don’t get a fair shake – young people who drop out of school, military families sacrificing for the nation’s security, small businesses feeling as if the tax code is tilted in favor of folks who can hire “big-shot attorneys” and “big-shot accountants.” He also referenced doing something about climate change to preserve the “incredible beauty” of a state like California.


Obama said, “My day starts off with great promise and my day ends and I look at my checklist of stuff I’ve got to do and I’m thinking, ‘Man, we’ve still got a long way to go.’ And three years will go like that. It’ll go like that. And those of us who have kids know how fast it goes because Malia and Sasha, they’re like weeds.” At that, the president sighed.


Obama said his agenda is “not particularly ideological” and is “just common sense,” but he attacked Republicans for trying to stop it. Obama said, “Right now in this country, there’s at least one faction of one party that has decided they’re more interested in stopping progress than advancing it and aren’t interested in compromise or engaging in solving problems. They’re more interested in scoring points for the next election.” He added, however, that, “It’s not as if Democrats have no blemishes.”


A man in the second tier of the auditorium repeatedly shouted “executive order” during Obama’s speech.


“Somebody keeps on yelling, ‘executive order,’” Obama said. “I’m going to actually pause on this issue because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem, which is just, ‘Sign an executive order and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress.’” When people started applauding, Obama said, “Wait, wait, wait. Before everybody starts clapping, that’s not how it works. We’ve got this Constitution, we’ve got this whole thing about separation of powers. So there is no short-cut to politics, and there’s no short-cut to democracy. We have to win on the merits of the argument with the American people, as laborious as it seems sometimes…What we have to do is keep on going, keep on pushing, and eventually we move in a better direction.”


Obama briefly mentioned the rocky rollout of the health care exchanges, saying: “This website is going to get fixed.”


Obama again voiced support for this weekend’s Iran deal, saying “we haven’t solved this problem” of Iran’s nuclear capacity, “but we’re testing diplomacy. We’re not resorting immediately to military conflict. And we create a space where there’s a possibility of resolving problems that have lingered for decades. It’s not easy. I can’t just sign an executive order. But it’s possible, and it’s worth the effort.”


After his speech, which lasted about 23 minutes, Obama waved to supporters and shook hands with those in the front section who came up near the barricades to meet him. Brooks and Dunn’s “Only in America” played through the loud system.


Shortly after 2 p.m. local, the motorcade was rolling to the home of Marc Benioff, where President Obama is scheduled to hold a roundtable session for about 30 supporters who contributed up to $32,400, per a DNC official. The president arrived at Benioff’s home about 10 minutes later. The event is closed to the press; your pool is holding in vans outside Benioff’s home on a picturesque Presidio Heights street on a sunny, 61-degree afternoon.

Philip Rucker

White House Correspondent

The Washington Post