Obama heads to L.A. to raise campaign cash

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

President Obama is expected to raise nearly $3.5 million in Los Angeles on Monday evening, appearing at events honoring California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is facing at a tough reelection battle this year.

The Los Angeles events are the latest in an accelerating fundraising schedule for the president. He has been attending such affairs at a pace that has already exceeded that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who was criticized by Democrats for the amount of time he spent on campaign fundraising.

Air Force One is scheduled to touch down at Los Angeles International Airport in the late afternoon Monday, and the president will be whisked to Exposition Park, where he will speak at receptions at the California Science Center and then at a dinner in the Museum of Natural History. India Arie is one of the featured entertainers at the Science Center event.

The president will not have any official business in Los Angeles, the White House said.

Obama has been traveling to help bolster vulnerable Democrats. He spoke recently at an event on behalf of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in Boston; he also raised money for Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and now for Boxer.

At the Science Center, donors will pay between $100 and $2,400 to attend one of two receptions at which Obama will speak. The lower ticket prices are available to young party activists who participate in a program called Gen44, which targets college students and young professionals.

Others must purchase a reception ticket for $2,400, which will be divided between Boxer’s reelection committee and the Democratic National Committee.

Those who can afford it will have dinner with the president at the Museum of Natural History, where tickets are priced at $35,200 per couple, with $4,800 going to Boxer’s campaign fund and the rest to the DNC. All the events have sold out, which is good news to the dinner co-chairs. One of them, John Emerson, a Los Angeles business executive and former staffer in the Clinton White House, said tickets began moving at a fast clip after the passage of the healthcare overhaul legislation last month.

“The success of this event is in large part due to the success the president has been having in recent weeks -- healthcare, the nuclear summit, revamping student loans. He is on a roll, and people are excited,” Emerson said.

Although Boxer is close to her leading GOP opponents in opinion polls, she has surpassed them in fundraising.

She reported raising $2.4 million in the first three months of 2010 and now has $8.7 million on hand, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Her closest rival in the fundraising race, former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina, took in $1.7 million in the first quarter, with $2.8 million cash on hand.