President Obama topped 60 fundraisers for the year Tuesday night as he raked in more campaign cash from Hollywood elites and entertainers on a three-day swing through Western states.
“This campaign has never been about glitz and glory, or just the blind pursuit of power,” Mr. Obama told supporters at one fundraiser in Los Angeles, where guests paid $5,000 each. “We are determined to create a better future.”
Staying in office likely will require Mr. Obama to raise more than the $750 million he amassed in 2008, and the coffers of wealthy Californians will play a large role in determining his success or failure. California is the biggest money-producing state for Mr. Obama, who raised about $156 million for his re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee in the second and third quarters this year.
The president’s eighth trip to Southern California since taking office included rubbing elbows with celebrities such as actor Antonio Banderas, former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson and film producer James Lassiter (“I Am Legend”). He also taped an appearance Tuesday on the “Tonight” show with Jay Leno.
On the show, Mr. Leno asked for the president’s reaction to the death last week of longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
“Well, this is somebody who, for 40 years, has terrorized his country and supported terrorism,” Mr. Obama said. “And he had an opportunity during the Arab spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy. We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it. And, obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that people long to be free, and they need to respect the human rights and the universal aspirations of people.”
From Los Angeles, Mr. Obama took a side trip to San Francisco on Tuesday for a fundraiser with folk-rock singer Jack Johnson. And then the president flew off to Denver on Tuesday night for two more fundraisers at the Pepsi Center, his 60th and 61st campaign events of the year, according to an unofficial tally.
The trip began with a stop in Las Vegas, where Mr. Obama promoted policies to help debt-laden homeowners refinance their mortgages. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus criticized the president for taking time to “hobnob with his Hollywood buddies” while his economic policies aren’t working.
“Did he take the time to notice what his policies have done to Nevada families?” Mr. Priebus said on his blog. “Will he bother to notice the struggling Colorado economy between his two fundraisers at Denver’s Pepsi Center?”
Mr. Priebus noted that, since President Obama took office, unemployment in Nevada has increased from 9.9 percent to 13.4 percent. In spite of the president’s first stimulus plan in 2009, Colorado and Nevada each have lost more than 60,000 jobs, he said.
On the road this week, the president is calling for more aid for homeowners and veterans, mixing the pitch in with a push for his jobs bill under the theme “We Can’t Wait.” He’s blaming congressional Republicans for blocking his agenda and keeping the economy from growing.
Republican leaders argue that Senate Democrats are blocking a series of bills aimed at promoting growth through cutting government regulations and expanding domestic oil and gas production.
“The president says we can’t afford to wait,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “Well, guess what? I agree with the president. We’ve got 15 bills that are sitting over in the United States Senate. After we finish this week, there’ll be 16 bills sitting over in the United States Senate waiting for action. It’s time for the Senate to work with the House, to work with the president, to help find common ground to move our economy forward and get the American people back to work.”
On the road, Mr. Obama is dismissing the Republicans’ approach.
“What they’re proposing we tried for 10 years,” Mr. Obama said at one campaign event. “We cut taxes for our wealthiest citizens. We didn’t enforce worker-safety rules. We didn’t enforce anti-pollution standards. We didn’t enforce regulations on Wall Street. And where did we end up? We ended up with a decade in which income and wages for middle-class families flat-lined, and people tried to make up for it by propping up a housing bubble.”