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Obama does Leno show in L.A., then raises money in San Francisco

President Obama got a taste of Los Angeles traffic Tuesday on his way to NBC’s studios in Burbank, where he taped an interview with Jay Leno before jetting to San Francisco to raise more money for his reelection campaign.

Obama’s motorcade slowed to a crawl on Highway 101 just past Ventura Boulevard, setting the president about 10 minutes behind schedule. A few dozen supporters greeted him as he rolled through the studio gates.

It was Obama’s second appearance on “The Tonight Show” as president.

Leno asked for Obama’s “take” on the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Kadafi.

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“Well, this is somebody who, for 40 years, has terrorized his country and supported terrorism,” Obama said. “And he had an opportunity during the ‘Arab Spring’ to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into a democracy. We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it.”

Turning to domestic politics, Leno noted that Republicans had objected to Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by year’s end.

“It’s shocking that they opposed something I proposed,” Obama quipped.

“Look, I think the things that folks across the country are most fed up with — whether you are a Democrat, Republican, independent — is putting party ahead of country or putting the next election ahead of the next generation,” he said.

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Leno asked Obama whether he had watched the GOP presidential debates.

“I’m going to wait until everybody is voted off the island,” Obama said. “Once they narrow it down to one or two, I’ll start paying attention.”

After the interview, the president stopped in San Francisco for a fundraiser at the W Hotel. About 200 guests attended, with tickets starting at $5,000.

Obama touted a provision of his jobs proposal that would give states money to retain teachers, firefighters and police, funded by a surtax on annual earnings above $1 million. Someone making $1.1 million a year would pay “an extra $500 — 500 bucks,” he told the well-heeled crowd, which laughed.

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“That would save 400,000 jobs all across the country,” Obama said, adding that most people he knows in that income bracket “would make that contribution willingly.” The crowd applauded.

Obama reminded entrepreneurs that they probably had received help from the government before becoming successful — as he did.

“A big chunk of the entrepreneurs who are in this room, you got an education somewhere and someone paid for it,” he said.

Citing previous presidents’ investments in the nation, Obama said, “My grandfather would not have gone to college had it not been for the GI Bill and Republicans in Congress who supported that along with FDR. … That’s what this election is all about.”

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The question is, he said, whether that will continue for “our kids and grandkids.”

Afterward, Obama headed for two evening fundraisers in Denver, where up to 5 inches of snow was expected to accumulate overnight.

kim.geiger@latimes.com


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