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President Obama raises big bucks in Los Angeles fundraising visit

President Obama landed in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon for a whirlwind fundraising visit.

Air Force One landed at Los Angeles International Airport about 1 p.m. and Mayor Eric Garcetti was on hand to greet Obama, who then boarded a helicopter en route to one of three fundraising events in the West L.A. area.

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After Marine One landed at Will Rogers State Park a half-hour later, the president’s motorcade made its way down Sunset Boulevard to the first event, a roundtable discussion at the home of “Star Trek” director J.J. Abrams. Several side streets were cordoned off with police tape to keep cars and pedestrians away.

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Afterward, Obama attended a private concert in Pacific Palisades at the home of Dr. Robin Berman. Jamie Foxx performed for the guests under a large tent. Attendees said he sang Motown, including a James Brown song, and that Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child performed with him. Among the songs was “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Helping Foxx on backup was Tori Boyd, who moved to L.A. from Boston over the last year to pursue her dream of professional singing. She said Foxx’s people found her through friends and asked her to sing for the president, so she took the day off from her retail job at a mall.

Singer Tori Boyd

Singer Tori Boyd performed with Jamie Foxx.

(Christina Bellantoni / Los Angeles Times)

The afternoon was “quite awesome,” Boyd said. She said she been singing since she was 7, when she saw Whitney Houston in “The Bodyguard.”

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“This is my first big chance,” she said. “This is huge to me.”

Boyd, 27, said she voted for Obama and that she has had Obamacare. She is not sure how she will vote next fall but said, “I would love for there to be a woman president. It would be a whole new perspective on things.”

As the president took the podium, Foxx was sitting along the back fence taking photos.

The president, who was not wearing a tie, thanked Foxx and said he’s always a crowd pleaser and hard to follow. Obama said that in addition to being a talented singer, dancer and actor, Foxx “also cares about this country.” Obama also acknowledged Foxx’s mom and dad, who were seated up front.

The Democratic National Committee said the event had approximately 200 supporters who were contributing up to $33,400 a person to attend.

Berman, a psychiatrist, gave an emotional introduction, saying she wanted to personally thank Obama for “embodying all the lessons I wanted to teach my children.”

President Barack Obama arrives in LA

President Obama's visit closed Westwood Boulevard and the surrounding area in west L.A.

(Axel Koester / For the Times)

She said Obama has demonstrated “compassionate, heart-centered leadership” and told him, “You’ve set a high bar for future presidents.” And, “history will be so kind to you.”

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Obama told the audience “one of the finest members of Congress,” Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego, was there and asked them for a round of applause. He said Peters, who represents the 52nd district and was considered among the vulnerable House Democrats, has taken tough votes on trade and equal pay.

“He not only has a good heart but knows how to get things done,” Obama said.

Peters won reelection last fall after a tight race. Obama won his district, one of the nation’s wealthiest, by six points in 2012.

During his speech, Obama touched on a variety of problems, including school shootings and political gridlock in Washington.

He said in California the threat of climate change means snowpacks will continue to deplete and the problems of drought and wildfires won’t get better.

“If 99% of doctors said you had diabetes you wouldn’t argue,” he said. “The time to act is now we have to believe [scientists].”

The president also talked about the importance of more people voting, remarks that came on the same day that California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that will allow eligible Californians to be automatically registered to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license at the DMV.

Obama next appeared at a fundraiser hosted by interior designer Michael S. Smith and his partner James Costos, a former HBO executive who is now the U.S. ambassador to Spain. Smith, known as a designer for stars including Steven Spielberg, was chosen to redecorate parts of the White House in 2009.

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Donors were gathered on chairs and couches in a large sitting room with high ceilings and a massive pink floral arrangement.

According to the DNC, this event has approximately 50 supporters contributing up to $33,400 a person.

Obama called Smith and Costos “great friends” to him and to the first lady and Obama’s daughters. He said the couple had been with him from the beginning.

The president joked about his lack of a tie. He said that at the start of his 2008 campaign he never wore one, but David Axelrod had told him that he didn’t look old enough to be president and he needed to put one on.

Now, Obama said, he is so gray that he definitely looks old enough to have been president, so he is “reverting back” to the look. He said people can anticipate more of this for the next 15 months.

Peters also attended the event and Obama gave him a shout-out for being “wonderful” and taking tough votes. The president said supporters need to help Peters and “get more people like Scott in the House." 

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FOR THE RECORD

7:24 p.m., Oct. 10: An earlier version of this post said Rep. Scott Peters gave President Obama a shout-out. It was Obama who praised Peters. 

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“I definitely need a Democratic successor,” he said, adding that the alternatives he’s seen “are not what I had in mind for the future of America." 

Obama said he wanted the event to be a dialogue. Reporters were escorted out while the president took questions from the audience.

Despite fears of possible major traffic tie-ups because of Obama’s visit, no serious problems were reported Saturday. Street closures briefly kept some residents stuck in their neighborhoods in the Pacific Palisades and Brentwood neighborhoods.

People waved and took photos as the motorcade passed by.

Police reported no safety issues or unusual traffic concerns.  

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For more, go to www.latimes.com/politics.  


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