The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci was inside President Obama’s fundraising luncheon today in San Francisco. Here’s her report, verbatim:
The very elegant wood paneled Julia Morgan Ballroom, considered a neoclassic architectural gem in the historic Merchants Exchange building, was filled with 27 tables of 10 guests each.
The White House official count was 250, but we were told by organizers that the demand for the event — sold out — was big and they wanted to squeeze in a few more. The majority of those paid $5,000 each to attend, but tickets went up to $7,500 for photo to $50,000 for “table captain.”
Among those in attendance: prominent San Francisco real estate developer Clint Reilly – a former Democratic strategist who also owns the historic Merchant Exchange building where the fundraiser is taking place. His wife, Janet, who heads the board of directors for the Golden Gate Bridge, was also present.
Lloyd Dean, chair of Cytori Theraputics and Obama bundler and Silicon Valley insider Wade Randlett among other guests.
California Governor Jerry Brown is also here.
Outside the Merchant Exchange building, there was a variety of vocal protesters, what looked to be a few hundred. They included about 50 from the Bay Area Tea Party Patriots, and another group some protesting Obama’s crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, and (no kidding) anti-circumcision protesters.
And there were another two dozen from the Center for Biological Diversity — some dressed as polar bears, protesting Shell Oil’s drilling in the Arctic.
(Lots more, after the jump…)
Diners at the Obama event in the Julia Morgan ballroom enjoyed a menu of summer salad (Upland cress and red frilly mustard with plum vinaigrette); salmon with sea beans, purple artichokes and lemon caper sauce, and assorted desserts.
In addition to Gov Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was in attendance, as was Richard Blum, husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Democratic party chair John Burton.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee welcomed the audience.
President Obama ‘has been thinking the same things that we’ve been doing in San Francisco,” he said. “We’re creating jobs…we’re using our innovation locally to do that..and this is exactly the same page that President Obama has had.”
Lee cited jobs creation, infrastructure investment.
“We’ve got some of the most innovative companies in America, and they are leading to make sure we stay ahead,” said Lee.
San Francisco Giants and baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays, wearing a Giants cap, introduced Obama.
He said he had “a great, great pride” in Obama. “It’s just a wonderful feeling that I have in my heart,” he said. “He’s the man that we need to be in the White House.”
Mays recalled his own personal contacts with Obama.
“When he came in to the White House, I had no idea that I’d be able to fly in on Air Force One,” Mays recalled. He said he talked to his attorney and asked him to contact the White House on that issue. “Five minutes later” he got a call. “It was so quick,” he said.
Mays said he didn’t know what he should do when he got on the plane, where there were “four guys…they said we want to give you a tour.”
“I had no idea in my lifetime that we would have an Afro-American guy in the White House,” he said. “It’s so wonderful that he can remember me and invite me to a place like this.”
Obama himself was greeted with cheers and a standing ovation in the ballroom, where there were 27 tables of 10 crammed in..
The president stood in front of a U.S. flag and a California flag before a backdrop of velvet curtains in the wood paneled dining room.
“It is true that they provide me with this really nice plane in this job, but as cool as Air Force One is, it is much cooler when Willie Mays is with you on the plane,” he said.
Obama acknowledged the historic landmark that his election, but added “we don’t make that history unless there are folks like Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays” to pave the way.”
He acknowledged “your outstanding governor of the great state of California, Jerry Brown,” and “your equally dynamic Lt. Gov., Gavin Newsom,” as well as “the wonderful mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee.”
He thanked Clint Reilly and wife Janet, the San Francisco developer who owns the building and the director of the board of the Golden Gate Bridge, respectively.
Obama also recognized former DNC chair Tim Kaine in the crowd.
“It is good to be back in San Francisco…I’ve been getting very good weather in San Francisco. I don’t know if Ed or Gavin…is arranging that,” he said.
The president launched into stump speech, and said that the idea that “everybody has a piece…in this exceptional, extraordinary country…was slipping away from too many people.”
“The American people are tough, and the tougher the times, the tougher they get,” he said. “Because of the extra talents and gifts and the resilience of the American people,” the administration has been able to create 4.3 million new jobs.
“We’ve been able to stabilize the situation, but we also understand” that folks are still hurting out there, he said.
And that’s why in some ways, “2012 is even more important than 2008…we’ve got to finish what we started,” he said to applause.
He said in 2008 he was running against “a guy…he believed in climate change, he believed in campaign finance reform, he believed in immigration reform,” he said, but added that today the fundamentals of the GOP “have shifted.”
“We deeply believe in the free markets…and innovators being rewarded…and there’s no place that innovates like Northern California,” he said, adding that pubic works like the Golden Gate Bridge are examples of infrastructure that benefits all..
The internet, “together we made that investment.” and “entire new industries have been formed.”
“There are some things that we do better together, and that’s the reason why America became the singular economic power that it’s become,” he said.
Today, there are two fundamentally “different visions” on that, with Republicans calling for cutting taxes and eliminating Pell Grants or funding for “the kind of infrastructure that will help us.”
In 2012, “we are going to be facing a fundamental choice,” he said. “I’ve been pretty clear about what I believe.”
“If somebody asks you, you tell them it’s still about hope and change,” he said of the 2012 election.
“Change is making sure that not only are we attracting manufacturing back to our shores,” but investing in battery technology, “solar energy or wind power…that will not only usher in” hundreds of thousands of new jobs and will give future generations the kind of technology “that they deserve.”
“That’s what change looks like,” he said.
“We passed a health care bill so that 30 million Americans” won’t worry about “going bankrupt” if they get sick, he said. “That’s what change is,” he said to applause.
“Change is ending the war in Iraq…and winding down the war in Afghanistan, and reestablishing respect for America around the world.”
Because of “our efforts,” Bin Laden is no longer a threat and “Al Qaeda is on its heels,” he said.
Calling for more infrastructure public works programs, he said that essentially “you can borrow at zero percent,” and thousands could be employed in such projects.”Why wouldn’t we do that now?”
In one of the biggest applause lines, he spoke of women’s health and said, “We’re not getting rid of Planned Parenthood.”
And (another big applause line) saying “everybody deserves respect, everybody deserves dignity,” America will not be “refighting that battle” to determine “who you can love.”
“The other side, they don’t have any new ideas,” he said, and quoting Bill Clinton, added: “They’re just offering more of the same, on steroids.”
“When ordinary people come together…when they decide” to join with friends, families and say they “see a direction for this country” are “willing to fight for it…guess what? Change happens. America is transformed.”
“I still believe in you. So I hope you still believe in me,” he said.
Some diners on hand dismissed criticism of Obama’s trips to CA to pick up campaign cash and said that they understood Obama’s frequent fundraising in California.
“My reaction is the other candidates’ travel schedule is no more oriented to the masses. I wish we had a system where this kind of fundraising isn’t necessary,” said Martin Checov, a San Francisco attorney who attended the event.
Before that event, the president had held a smaller, closed fundraiser elsewhere in San Francisco. Here’s the report on that from Todd Gillman, Washington bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News:
The president is attending a closed campaign event on the 11th floor of the Landmark Tower in downtown San Francisco.
The pool is holding on the 3d floor in a conference room inside the modern and lovely suite of Salesforce.com, an “enterprise cloud computing company.”
We arrived about 12:15 (local) after a 20 minute motorcade. Empty highway into the city, then a waterside drive along The Embarcadero before a left turn onto Mission Street. Scattered onlookers once we got into the city, with many hundreds lining the streets around the destination. Pool walked a rather odd but friendly gauntlet of hundreds of officeworkers etc. with cameras and cell phones in the lobby of the office tower, snapping our pictures like paparazzi and some even asking members of our entourage if we’ve actually seen the president. We walked a couple hundred feet to elevators, amid the civilians, one of whom had to be deterred from joining us on an elevator by a stern, polite yet authoritative young White House aide.
Obama was greeted on the tarmac in San Francisco by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and about two dozen campaign workers or volunteers whose names we don’t have. He went down the line chatting, shaking hands and hugging, and then he trotted over to a rope line of several dozen folks behind a chain link fence.