The scenes outside the president’s fundraisers

As always, there was a lot more going on than I could fit into the story.

I got to the site of the first fundraiser, at the Woodside home of Symantec chairman John Thompson, between 3 and 3:30 p.m. and soon realized any protestors or supporters would be held back elsewhere. The only folks I saw there who weren’t law enforcement or on their way through the security checks at the gate were some neighbors – two parents and their two daughters – just up the road, watching the bomb squad’s dog sniff their mailbox.

They told me they’re a Republican household. Asked what he’d tell the President if he were inside the event, the dad replied, “I’d say, ‘Your policies don’t work.’”

I headed back out to Sand Hill Road and Whiskey Hill Road, the rally point for a crowd of protestors that grew to more than 100 by the time the motorcade went by at 6:11 p.m.

Sharon Hiensley, 65, of Fremont, held a sign that said “Stop killing the dream of the young and poor – stop illegal aliens taking over our jobs.”

Owen Jones, 59, of Fremont, stood next to her; his sign said “Illegals cost U.S. trillions –no more ‘freebies’ 4 illegal aliens.” He described himself as a 40-year union carpenter “watching his trade and his livelihood stolen from illegal immigration,” and a member of the Golden Gate Minutemen.

Sandy, 46, of San Leandro, said she’s a Democrat and a postal worker who takes a lot of guff about both from her fellow members of the Bay Area Patriots. “I think our government is wasting too much money,” she said, holding a sign that implored the president to “stop giving jobs to illegal aliens.”

“I actually have a teenager who cannot find a job,” she said.

Jean, “old enough to know better,” another Bay Area Patriots member from Redwood City, said she believes “we need to change the government, it’s rotten to the core. All the stimulus was was a payoff to Obama’s cronies, and all those ‘green jobs’ are a farce.”

“We need E-verify so we can get ride of the illegals so we can have the jobs,” she added. “We need to close our borders… and we need to clean out Washington; all those guys are socialist-Marxists.”

Lots more, after the jump…

Nergish, 71, of Los Altos, was part of a contingent of Hermain Cain supporters. “We all love him here, we are very thrilled with Florida.”

“He speaks with what I call common sense, he address problems directly, he’s not politically devious,” she continued. “Obama talks too much about the poor, but half the poor don’t even pay taxes.”

She and her friend Helena, of San Jose, are members of the Voter Integrity Project, and accused groups such as ACORN and the Service Employees International Union of committing voting fraud on behalf of Democrats. “Instead of bringing people together, he’s dividing them, separating them,” Helena said.

Diane Wall, 66, of Novato, held a sign saying “Our grandkids can’t afford 4 more years of buffoonery.”

“This is my concern now because I have a 6-month-old grandson,” said the Bay Area Patriots member. “The poor tot’s going to be paying and paying and paying.”

Robert Dietrich, 74, of Richmond, said he was a Free Speech Movement activist in Berkeley in the 1960s and a steadfast supporter of socialism until the Berlin Wall came down “and I got to see what was actually going on behind the Iron Curtain… I found out that the liberal idea doesn’t work, government is not the answer, the less government the better.”

A small clump of Obama supporters stood apart, a short way further up Sand Hill Road.

“I was so excited to come see Obama, I missed him the last time he was here, and it’s a once in a lifetime chance for me and my daughter to see the president,” said Leslie Alperin, 54, of Berkeley, gesturing toward Lily, age “seven and three quarters.” “She wants to be a girl Obama when she grows up.”

Looking down the road toward the conservative protestors, Halperin said, “I support their right to protest and I’m happy that there’s political participation here.”

Moments later, a white-haired woman in a red “Join the Tea Party” t-shirt strolled up the road to offer the Obama supporters cookies.

Another Obama supporter, Olufunke Grace Bankole, 32, of Woodside, said the president “has a hard job and we still support him, he inherited a mess. He is doing the best he can given the problems he inherited.”

The protestors’ chants included “Hey-hey, ho ho, Obama’s got to go” and “Where are the jobs,” but they were chanting “one-term president!” as the motorcade went by.

Frank and Jessica Lonergan, of Woodside, said their daughters, Margi, 8, and Dixie, 10, got a smile and wave from the president as his limousine passed. “I think it’s very exciting to see the president in town, we wanted to give the kids a glimpse,” said Frank, 42.

Jessica, 40, glanced over at the by-then-dissipating crowd of protestors. “That’s the beauty of America, it’s freedom of speech, and that’s a good thing to expose your children to, too.”

From there, I barreled downhill to Atherton, where the president was to attend a dinner at the home of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. He arrived there at about 7:42 p.m., the motorcade passing about two dozen local residents who’d gathered on Alameda De Las Pulgas. None carried signs, and most sounded like supporters of the president.

Asked what they’d say to President Obama had they anted up the $35,800 per person to attend the dinner, Ken Ross, 68, of Atherton, replied, “we should probably start pulling out of Afghanistan – why not?”

Brad Ross, 14, said he would tell the president to “cut down on the number of troops in Afghanistan and get rid of the Bush-era tax cuts.” And his friend, Brennen Chess, 14, said he thinks “we need to reform Medicare and Medicaid, health care in general, because we’re losing a lot of dollars based on that.”

Rich, 55, of Menlo Park, said he would tell the president “to be aggressive and move toward not letting the Republicans get away with s—-.”

Daniella, 39, of Redwood City, strugged for the right metaphor, suggesting we’re all in one canoe and it’s the president’s job “to get people to paddle together.”

“A good leader brings out the best in people,” she said. “That’s what we really need. We either all are going to sink or we’re all going to swim. People need to learn how to work all together… His job is to be a coach and draw out the very best.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood


    “While defending his call for the rich to pay more in taxes, the president said he didn’t mind people calling him a class warrior for merely asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a Jew.”


    Maybe he really IS a Muslim!

  • jskdn

    Imagine people expecting that they shouldn’t have to compete for jobs with the illegal employment of illegal immigrants. What were they thinking? Don’t they realize that their lives are simply expendable in service of the agendas of Obama, other Democrats and Republicans like Rick Perry? Since that is also the agenda shared by those that work in the news media, don’t expect anything like fair and honest treatment of your plight on that front. In fact if you don’t think your voice has been ignored enough, all the newspapers going to Facebook commenting run by company of Obama supporters that makes censorship easy will make your lives even more insignificant.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    I’m waiting for Jimmy Carter to predict BHO’s re-election; then I’ll know he is really in trouble.

  • Elwood


    “”Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” he said, his voice rising as applause and cheers mounted. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”–Barack Hussein O’bummer, everybody’s favorite homeboy


  • John W

    Re: #4

    Quite a bit of policy shuckin’ and divin’ stuff going on in the GOP debates.

    Oh please Chris Christie, please jump in! He and Mitch Daniels are the most impressive people the GOP has. Mainly though, I’d love to see how the debate audiences react when they find out Christie is on record supporting the scientific community consensus that man-made climate change is real; favoring reasonable gun control; and opposing “crazy talk” on immigrants and Muslims, one of whom he appointed to the NJ Supreme Court. My guess is that, when the audience booed the gay Army soldier in Irag who asked about DADT, Christie would have told them to shut up. Oh, there is also that matter of Christie being a lobbyist for the securities industry association when it was headed up by Bernie Madoff.

    The president of the NRA was in rare form today, getting folks all lathered up over an imaginary plan by Obama to kill the Second Amendment. Gun and ammo sales must be down. So the manufacturers and dealers who fund the NRA must have told old Wayne to get everybody fired up. I don’t think Obama has said a peep about guns and the Second Amendment since he was elected. But Christie has.

  • Elwood

    @ #5

    Oh, please, square old white dude!

    It’s shuckin’ and jivin’ not shuckin’ and divin’.

    Good grief!

  • For Liberty


    In regards to your statement about the Obama administration not saying a peep about guns or gun control since he was elected, his UN gun control treaty is apparently directed towards American gun owners as well as those in other nations. See the link below:


    In addition, his administration is also in the process of drafting gun control measures which are also apparently motivated from the Giffords shooting in Arizona.

  • John W

    Re: #6

    My bad!

  • John W

    Re: #7

    Thanks, For Liberty. As for the UN treaty, this is a real twofer for the Right– the UN and gun control. Wow! First, there is zero chance of a treaty like this being ratified given that it dares to even mention guns. Second, no treaty can change rights protected by the Constitution. Third, my understanding, based on FactCheck.org and Snopes is that the treaty is aimed at international trafficking of firearms and has nothing to do with the right of U.S. citizens to possess firearms or “gun control” as that term is generally understood in the context of the Second Amendment debates.

    As for the other gun control measures you mentioned, I don’t know what the administration is or isn’t drafting. I do know that, in the aftermath of the Giffords shooting, there was conversation about the kind of gun clip that the shooter had that allowed him to get off so many rounds so quickly. Even some conservatives expressed support at the time for some regulation regarding those clips. Again, however, I can’t imagine Congress supporting even that given the tenor of the times.

  • Elwood


    “WASHINGTON — The whole point of President Obama’s three-day swing through the West was to make sure the region knows it’s important in 2012, though the White House may have ended up offending a few folks in Colorado.

    The administration gave reporters a fancy blue credential with a map of the United States marked, “THE TRIP OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO THE AMERICAN WEST” that had special colors trying to highlight the three states he was visiting: California, Colorado, and Washington state.

    But there was a snafu because the credential instead highlighted Wyoming — instead of Colorado. While the two states do look remarkably similar on a map, it’s not the type of mishap you want when trying to send the signal that Colorado’s nine electoral votes are very important to you.”


  • John W

    “The Gang that couldn’t shoot straight”

    Tell that to bin Laden and Al-Awlaki!

    I’m from Colorado, before I got stupid and moved to Malfunction Junction California a few years ago. Trust me, they won’t care, except for Republicans who wouldn’t vote for Obama anyway.

  • Elwood

    ““The Gang that couldn’t shoot straight””

    Let’s not confuse special forces and Navy seals with the O’bummer administration and its political operatives, OK?

    There are multitudinous examples of the incompetence of the latter two.

  • Elwood


    “Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, at the moment, Democrats in Congress don’t have the votes to pass President Obama’s jobs bill, but Durbin added that that situation would change.

    “Not at the moment, I don’t think we do, but, uh, we can work on it,” Durbin said, according to Chicago radio station WLS.”


  • John W

    “Let’s not confuse special forces and Navy SEALS with…administration.

    Wouldn’t dream of it. But Obama personally authorized the bin Laden strike even though the Secretary of Defense thought it too risky, and the generals just wanted to bomb the place. I call that pretty straight shooting in the decision-making sense. Same for Al-Awlaki. Lots of people, including Ron Paul on the Right and especially on the left are up in arms that we would kill an American citizen without due process. Obama said, to hell with it, and personally authorized the action.

  • John W

    Re: 13

    The bill is obviously a wedgie for the campaign. I’m good with that. Doubling down on the payroll tax would blow a $240 billion hole in the budget without any evidence that it would produce GDP growth or jobs. But I’m for the infrastructure part. Caldecott Tunnel fourth bore project created 4300 good jobs with ACA stimulus money, not including ripple effect jobs in the surrounding area. So, if we could just blow another thousand holes in the Oakland Hills, I think we could pretty much lick this unemployment thing.

  • Elwood


    “White House spokesman Jay Carney today downplayed statements by two political allies who are backing away from President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority, his $447 billion “American Jobs Act.

    Obama ally and stock market billionaire Warren Buffett backed away from the “Buffet Rule” tax increase Friday. And one day before, top Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said his Democratic Senate majority doesn’t yet have the votes to pass the bill.”


  • John W

    I wish Durbin would “back away” from the Durbin Amendment in Dodd-Frank rather than blame the banks for imposing Debit Card fees to replace the revenue he took from them at the behest of Home Depot and Walmart.

    Totally understandable that the batch of Dems elected in 2006 in purple and red states would not support any taxes now. But, as I read the story in the link, I don’t think Buffett backed away at all. His explanation, agree with it or not, is completely consistent with his original position that wealthy people who make their incomes from investing should pay tax rates comparable to “the little people.” He also supports higher marginal rates on ordinary income for the super-wealthy. How’s that “backing away?”

    But, who oh who will the Repubs put up to retire Obama from office? Herman Cain (or “Herb Cain,” as Sarah Palin calls him) says Christie is too liberal because of positions on gun control, civil unions, immigration, climate change, supporting the “Ground Zero Mosque,” and appointing a Muslim judge. So, the choice seems to be “too liberal” Christie; or the original author of ObamaCare and flip-flopping king Mitt; or the man from Texas who sensibly supports in-state tuition for kids who were brought in illegally and also supports saving young girls from the preventable risk of cervical cancer. Can’t do that. They might become sinners and decide to have sex someday. The Tea Party folks’ heads must be exploding.

  • Elwood

    Speaking of heads exploding:


    “BOSTON — The United States was justified in killing U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because he was an Al Qaeda recruiter and propagandist, said former Vice President Dick Cheney.

    Cheney defended Obama’s decision to kill Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, saying that the U.S. must attack terrorists. There is controversy over whether Obama was justified in ordering the killing of Awlaki, who was a dual American and Yemeni citizen.

    “It was a very good strike,” Cheney said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” broadcast. “The president ought to have that kind of authority to order that kind of strike, even when it involves an American citizen, when there is clear evidence that he’s part of Al Qaeda.”


  • John W

    Re: 18

    “Speaking of heads exploding…”

    Good one!

    It would be a real stunner if Cheney had said anything different about the hit on Awfulaki. Of course, he also asked Obama to apologize. I thought the neocons said Obama was always apologizing too much.

    I completely disagree with the critics on this. Still, it’s nice to live in a country where people raise these issues and make us think about what is or isn’t consistent with our constitutional values.