- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Although he’s shunned by some fellow Democrats on the campaign trail, President Obama will work to fill their coffers when he embarks Wednesday on a three-day fundraising trip to the West Coast.

Mr. Obama will appear at five fundraisers in California to raise millions for Democratic congressional candidates, at parties hosted by the executives of Disney studios, Yahoo and the former chairman of Qualcomm. The events are among more than 20 fundraisers that the president has committed to attend this year as Democrats try against the odds to keep control of the Senate and pick up seats in the House.

With his job-approval ratings near the lowest point of his presidency, Mr. Obama managed to joke at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday about Democrats avoiding him.


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“Folks are saying that with my sagging poll numbers, my fellow Democrats don’t really want me campaigning with them,” Mr. Obama said. “And I don’t think that’s true — although I did notice the other day that [daughter] Sasha needed a speaker at career day, and she invited Bill Clinton. I was a little hurt by that.”

Mr. Obama’s first stop on the trip will involve one of those red-state Democrats who’s kept his distance from the president, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Running for a third term in a close race against Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, Mr. Pryor is telling voters that he’s “the most independent senator in Washington.”

His appearance with Mr. Obama is not a campaign event; Mr. Pryor will accompany the president to tour tornado damage and meet with the families of victims. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, and Rep. Tim Griffin, a Republican, also will be part of Mr. Obama’s tour.

From Arkansas, Mr. Obama will fly later Wednesday to Los Angeles to participate in a joint fundraiser to benefit House and Senate Democratic candidates. He will also receive an “Ambassador for Humanity” award from Steven Spielberg at a Holocaust memorial event sponsored by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation, which was founded by the director.

When Mr. Spielberg announced the award, he cited Mr. Obama’s “commitment to democracy and human rights.” He also said Mr. Obama’s appointment of the nation’s first special envoy for Holocaust Survivor Services “demonstrates his staunch commitment to honoring the past while building a better future.”

The Holocaust event and another “official” energy-related event Friday in San Jose ensure that taxpayers will cover much of the cost of the president’s trip, even though it’s mostly devoted to politics.

On Thursday, the president will attend four fundraisers in Southern California. His fundraising hosts include Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, billionaire and former Qualcomm Chairman Irwin Jacobs, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Current Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, Irwin’s son, has been active in promoting Mr. Obama’s immigration reform plan, and Ms. Mayer has lobbied the administration to allow more transparency about the information requests her company receives from the National Security Agency.

Tickets for the events range from $1,000 per person to $64,800 per couple, depending on the event and the level of access to Mr. Obama.

Irwin Jacobs was the second-biggest donor to Mr. Obama’s 2012 campaign, contributing well over $2 million to the president’s re-election effort.

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but they are defending 21 of the 36 seats contested in November. Many political analysts believe the GOP is within reach of picking up the net six seats needed to regain control of the Senate. In the House, Democrats would need a net gain of 17 seats to take the chamber, a goal that most political strategists believe the party cannot achieve.

Democrats are leading in the 2014 money race of “hard” contributions, which are subject to federal limits. But Republicans are believed to be benefiting more from spending by outside groups that don’t need to disclose their contributions.