L.A.-bound Obama sticking to fundraising, event schedule amid protests
Angelenos, get those alternative traffic routes ready.
President Obama will arrive in Los Angeles this afternoon on the third stop of a three-day West Coast swing that has combined a heavy dose of fundraising and a few official duties. The commander in chief will be raising money for November’s midterm elections and speaking at Los Angeles Trade Technical College about the importance of “job-driven skills training,” according to the White House.
That event may be the most visible part of his Los Angeles stay, but it’s the fundraising -- in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, for Democratic candidates in November’s races -- that has drawn harrumphs from critics.
“With all that’s happening in our country and around the world -- wildfires, droughts and international crises, I think everyone can agree the last thing the president should be doing is fundraising,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement Tuesday.
White House officials have defended sticking with Obama’s schedule, noting that the president has access to the same communications, advisors and intelligence whether he is in Washington, D.C., or traveling. But the international events have already influenced one decision -- to not appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Wednesday.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that although the administration had been in talks with the ABC show to appear, “We ultimately elected not to have the president do that interview over the course of this trip, and that is at least in part related to the challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the President is dealing with in the international scene.”
Speaking Tuesday at the waterfront home of campaign bundlers Ann and Bruce Blume, Obama acknowledged the global troubles on his plate, saying that despite progress under his tenure Americans still feel “anxious.”
Although he usually attributes that anxiety to economic uncertainty, on Tuesday he added “some big challenges overseas,” including the war in Ukraine, “Russia’s aggression toward its neighbors,” the Syrian civil war, terrorist threats, Israel and Gaza.
The effect, Obama told donors at the afternoon reception, is “just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles.”
As he arrived at the reception with views of Lake Washington, Obama was greeted by a few dozen pro-Palestinian protesters waving signs decrying Israel’s ground assault in Gaza -- “End the occupation, Mr. President. Stop apartheid” -- and chanting “Free Palestine!”
Protests are the norm when any president travels. On Wednesday in Los Angeles, several liberal groups have promised hundreds of protestors urging Obama to take a stand on net neutrality. According to TruthRevolt, a conservative media source, banners and flyers have been posted near the site of Obama’s fundraiser making a play on the logo of the hit-television show “Scandal” and including an obscene hashtag.
The creator of the show, Shonda Rhimes, is hosting a Democratic National Committee fundraising dinner early Wednesday evening at her home; about 450 people are expected to attend, according to a DNC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Obama appointed Rhimes to the Kennedy Center board of trustees last year.
Actress Kerry Washington, who stars in the show as crisis fixer Olivia Pope, is a co-host, according to an invitation posted on Political Party Time, a website that tracks political fundraisers. Donors are contributing between $1,000 and $32,400 to attend the Hancock Park event.
On Thursday, Obama will speak at a roundtable discussion attended by 25 supporters contributing up to $32,400, according to the DNC official.
The morning event will take place at the home of Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
For those who have suffered through traffic nightmares during the president’s frequent visits to Los Angeles -- which generally seem to coincide with rush hour -- the invitation to the event suggested there is a respite for the remainder of 2014.
“This is the last trip to Los Angeles the president will be making this year and a truly special opportunity to interact with the leader of the free world in an off the record, small forum,” the invitation said, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
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