Thousands protest during Obama visit

October 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of supporters donating millions of dollars came to hear President Barack Obama speak in San Francisco on Thursday night, but not everyone came to cheer. A huge crowd of protesters also turned out to deliver messages of their own.

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By 11 p.m. many of the protesters cleared out, but many of them acknowledge the president probably never saw them. Some protesters said they still feel good that they go their opinion out there, hoping someone in the crowd heard or saw their message.

People started lining up a few hours before Obama was scheduled to arrive at the Westin St. Frances Hotel. Protestors had a lot to say about health care and the war in Afghanistan. They argued with each other and held signs with strong messages for the president.

"People in this country had a lot of trust to vote for him to make a change and they really didn't know what kind of change," said Pleasanton resident Karla Bruen.

The majority of the protestors didn't vote for Obama, but some of them did. They said when it comes to health care reform, Obama isn't leaning as far left as they would like.

"I feel that he could be doing a lot more. I feel that Obama needs to come forward and support single payer health care," said Petaluma resident Stan Gold.

But the president missed the messages; his motorcade slipped him into a hotel side entrance, away from the masses waiting on Powell Street. Inside, he acknowledged the debates raging around the issues.

"I believe in a two party system where ideas are tested and assumptions are challenged because that's how we move this country forward, but what I reject is when some folks decide to sit on the sidelines and root for failure," said Obama.

He told the crowd to get ready for some intense arguing around health care.

"We are closer than we have ever been to passing health insurance reform. Health insurance reform that will finally make quality care affordable for people who don't have it, and bring stability and security to people who do, and slow the skyrocketing health care costs that are crushing our families and businesses and our state and our federal government," said Obama.

Those inside said they liked what they heard.

"I think that he said everything I would like him to say and I believe in him and think he's going to do everything we can hope for our country," said Berkeley resident Marika Shaub.

Supporters paid a lot to hear the president tonight. It was a $500 minimum to get into the VIP reception. Some paid around $30,000 to go to the dinner. The Democratic Party estimates it raised $3 million Thursday night.

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