President Obama in L.A.: Fundraiser, fist bumps, trash talk in a deli

President Obama talks with diners at Canter's Deli in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles.
President Obama talks with diners at Canter’s Deli in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

On his regularly scheduled visits to rake up campaign cash from the salons of Los Angeles’ upper-crust neighborhoods, President Obama just as regularly drops into locales meant to emphasize that he is more man-of-the-people than man-of-the-moneyed.

On Thursday that locale was Canter’s Deli, the venerable Fairfax district eating spot, where Obama struck up conversations with diners about basketball, his failing jump shot and other regular-guy concerns.

Fresh from a morning fundraiser at the Pacific Palisades home of Live Nation Chief Executive and President Michael Rapino — the bookend to a Wednesday night fundraiser at the Hancock Park home of television impresario Shonda Rhimes — Obama strode into the deli and shook hands with line cooks, who snapped pictures and fist-bumped the president.

Then he moved to the dining room, where he engaged in a little reverse trash talk, impugning his own basketball skills.


After one man asked him about his game, Obama replied, “My shot’s broke.”

“It’s my elbow. It’s my age,” he said, holding his arm up in the air. “I get the chicken wing.”

The diner asked how many shots he could sink out of 10, and Obama said eight. “But that’s not during a game.”

Basketball talk was not the aim of the appearance, however; the main reason was a meeting with four people who, the White House said, had taken time to write Obama letters, a supplementary part of his nightly reading. The president has held similar meetings elsewhere, part of his party’s push to convince voters in November’s elections that he and fellow Democrats stand with them.

His sit-down guests included Katrice Mubiru, a Los Angeles teacher; recent UC Irvine graduate Aaron Anderson; Joan Waddell, a mother of three seeking to become a certified nursing assistant; and Kati Koster, who earned a master’s degree at Pepperdine University and wrote the president about the impact of student loans.

Unlike the basketball talk, their conversation was not audible to reporters at the scene.

Obama closes out his two-day Los Angeles visit with an appearance at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, where his subjects were to be the economy and measures intended to benefit the middle class.

On Twitter: @cathleendecker ; @latseema