President Obama's whirlwind trip brings support, protests

June 6, 2013 11:31:47 PM PDT
Security in San Jose is tight. President Barack Obama will be spending the night there before delivering an address on health care Friday.

The president arrived at Moffett Field Thursday around 5:40 p.m. and then promptly headed off to two Silicon Valley fundraisers.

The parking lot in Portola Valley was packed with people who'd hoped to catch a glimpse of the president as he left a fundraiser where he raised anywhere from $800,000 to $900,000

The president left Portola Valley just after 9 p.m. He spent an hour and a half at a fundraiser held at the home of Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla. The price to attend the dinner was $32,400 a person.

The hefty price tag bought guests a photo-op with the president, as well as a chat about education and Obama's desire for Democrats to control Congress. The president insisted this would be the only way to get things done.

About a half-mile away, a group gathered along Los Trancos Road to greet the president as the motorcade drove by.

"That was actually pretty cool because there was like a lot more people here and everybody was, like, excited, and hoping they could get a glance of him," said 12-year-old Rayan Rizvi.

Democrats also welcomed the president in Palo Alto. He started his California visit at the home of Mike and Marci McCue, the co-founders of online social magazine Flipboard.

The McCues hosted a $5,000 per person cocktail reception. VIP seating ran up to $15,000 a couple. The guest list has not been released, although it was expected to include people from the tech and venture capital world.

"My hope is that everybody has a great time and remembers this is really to raise money for the Senate in the fall so that we can continue to make progress on important issues that are always on top of mind at least with people in California," Marci McCue said.

"He talked about education, he talked about the challenges in Congress to try to get things through, about compromise, and then of course keeping optimistic about America and the dream," fundraiser attendee Angela Weyden said.

Not everybody was happy to see the president. Protesters lined the streets of Palo Alto, just as they did during his last visit in April. They're angry about what they call the president's lack of emphasis on environmental issues.

Through the years, Obama's made a lot of general statements about the environment and cutting carbon emissions. But recently he got more specific, saying he'll use executive orders if necessary.

Protesters want to make sure he doesn't forget that. But they're also mad about something he hasn't said. Obama, they say, is too silent about the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal -- something they say is the opposite of getting tough on climate change.

"The Keystone tar sands pipeline is actually the dirtiest form of oil in the world. The pipeline will contribute to global warming, causing sea level rise, climate change, continuing flooding around the world, and all around it's a disaster for the world," Sierra Club volunteer Brian Haberly said.

But the protesters didn't seem to faze the president. We talked to one reception guest about that.

"I joked with him and told him that I was probably the only person there whose mom was actually outside protesting," said Sayre Stevick.

President Obama's next stop is San Jose. He'll be spending the night at the Fairmont Hotel and will give a speech Friday morning about his Affordable Care Act.

His brief drive through San Jose was still exciting for the people who were enjoying a pleasant evening downtown.

Many say it's refreshing to hear that the president will be squeezing in a policy address about ObamaCare, considering his Bay Area visits are typically focused exclusively on fundraising.

"That's good, that's really good," San Jose resident Cynthia Jacinto said. "Well, to make it even it out, to make it seem like he's not just here trying to raise money, to be able to just let everybody else know he's here on other business as well."

"I feel he needs to get out and raise support for his programs, not just financially, but also for what he believes in and what he wants to bring to California," San Jose resident Deanna Duffy said.

The president is scheduled to speak at 8:50 a.m. He's expected to talk about how the Affordable Care Act will create "quality, affordable choices for Californians who want to buy insurance this fall."

Keep in mind the streets around the Fairmont will be blocked off until the president leaves after his address. So people who work downtown may have to find a different way to get to the office.

After leaving San Jose on Friday, President Obama will head for a fundraiser in Santa Monica. He'll then spend the rest of the weekend in Palm Springs, meeting with the new Chinese President Xi Jinping.

President Xi arrived at Ontario International Airport Thursday evening for the meeting. He was greeted by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a Marine honor guard.

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