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President Obama Raises $1 Million In Southern California Visit

President Barack Obama is scheduled to leave Los Angeles this morning, bound for Seattle, the next stop on a three-day, five- state trip, primarily for fundraising.

In his only public appearance during 17 1/2 hours in Southern California, Obama used a $1 million Hancock Park fundraiser Monday night to remind donors about his successes in the midst of criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

“We have been able to deliver the most progressive legislative agenda — one that helps working families — not just in one generation, maybe two, maybe three,” Obama said during a half-hour speech.

Jahan Wilcox, a regional press secretary for the Republican National Committee, told City News Service that it was “mind-boggling” to hear Obama talk about the Congress’ successes, after frequently accusing Republicans of being obstructionists.

Wilcox also took issue with Obama’s praise for Congress.

“He is very proud of this Congress, but this Congress passed a $852 billion stimulus program that was supposed to create 400,000 jobs in California, but hasn’t,” Wilcox said. “His stimulus has failed to turn around California like they promised.”

In addition to criticism from conservatives for the stimulus bill and health care legislation, Obama has drawn criticism recently from liberals for abandoning the public option in health care, for not moving faster to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and ending the ban on gays and lesbians openly serving in the armed forces.

The fundraiser at the home of television producer John Wells raised $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the official campaign arm of Democrats in the House of Representatives, organizers said.

Tickets were $2,500 per person for a cocktail reception. The cost to be a co-host was $30,400 per couple, which included the cocktail reception, a photo with Obama and a co-host dinner.

Co-hosts for what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, called “a very, very successful event” included director Steven Spielberg, entertainer Barbra Streisand, DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg, producer-director J.J. Abrams, Warner Bros. Entertainment President and Chief Operating Officer Alan Horn and Tom Unterman, founding partner of the Santa Monica-based venture capital firm Rustic Canyon Partners.

Streisand and Katzenberg did not attend the event.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was among the crowd, drawing a quip from Obama — “we’re not letting him on a bicycle any time soon” — a reference to his recent accident that left him with a broken elbow.

Others attending included filmmaker Judd Apatow, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Reps. Howard Berman, Brad Sherman, Judy Chu and Laura Richardson, and Assemblywoman Karen Bass, heavily favored to be elected to the House in November, representing the district which includes Hancock Park.

Wells’ credits include “The West Wing,” “ER” and “China Beach.” He is president of the Writers Guild of America.

Speaking without notes or a teleprompter, Obama discussed the tough times when he took office.

“This is exactly when you want to be president,” Obama said. “This is why I ran, because we have the opportunity to shape history for the better.”

Obama said keeping Congress in Democratic control would be “my focus over the next several months.”

“I hope you understand why we’re here tonight,” Obama said. “It’s not to take a picture with the president. We’re here to make sure those who took the tough votes are rewarded.”

Members of groups dedicated to liberalizing the nation’s immigration laws marched a few blocks away from the fundraiser, some dressed as characters from “The Wizard of Oz.”

“In `The Wizard of Oz’ Dorothy was lost,” Maria Delgado, who was dressed as Dorothy, told ABC7. “She couldn’t find her way home. President Obama is lost and he needs to find back to keeping his promise of immigration reform.”

This was Obama’s fourth trip to the Southland since taking office, the last three of which have been exclusively for political fundraising.

Air Force One arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at 3:36 p.m., about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Obama was taken by helicopter to the Brentwood area and then to the Beverly Hilton, where he remained for about 90 minutes before leaving for the fundraiser at 6:10 p.m.

In Seattle today, Obama will hold a round table discussion with small business owners, then speak at fundraisers for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

KESQ News Team

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