The San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, serving as the local pool reporter for President Obama’s fundraising dinner tonight at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco’s Civic Center, filed this report a short while ago:
The first VIP fundraiser of the evening for 100 donors, held in a hall in the Civic Auditorium, was hosted by chef Alice Waters. She was wearing a plum scarf and was present in the hall – where she presided over long wooden banquet tables decorated in a fall theme with baskets of fresh fruit and apples and tall candelabras.
Fish tartare a la japonaise
Warm chanterelles on grilled toast
Fall tomato salad with homemade mozzarella
Fresh cheese with baked fig
Eggplant tagine with couscous
Duck confit with herb and frisee salad
Corncakes with mint and chive
Prosciutto and almonds
Guests sat on low long wooden benches in front of a tan velvet curtain, graced by an American flag and a California state flag.
Obama, in suit and tie, entered at 7:03 p.m. to cheers and a standing ovation.
He was introduced by Pam Hamamoto, a childhood friend of the president’s from public school in Hawaii.
She said both were new in the school; she had moved from another part of the state, and “he moved from Indonesia….but I like to think our experiences that first year were similar,” both learning to navigate new classes, new friendships and new teachers.
“I still remember the first time I saw him on the playground … a classmate asked me, ‘Do you know Barry? He’s a new kid too.’”
“It didn’t cross my mind at the time that this young boy with bare feet and chubby cheeks would grow up to be President of the United States,” she said.
She said that the two “grew up in the melting pot of Hawaii” where “respect and compassion for working people was just a way of life.”
She said back then, Obama was “an extremely hard worker” and “a fierce competitor,” as well as a leader, “just as he is today.”
“It’s been a privilege for me to be a part of this amazing ‘Obama for America’ team,” she said.
Obama began speaking at 7:07 p.m.
“Pam, that was the sweetest introduction I’ve had since I’ve been president,” he said. “I know that many of you are wondering, why does she look so much younger than him? All I can say is, genes,” he said to laughs.
“It’s true that the environment that we grew up in” provides us with “a certain ballast,” he said. Those who wonder about his “even keel” he said, can look to Hawaii. “You body surf, and you feel fine afterwards. It washes away all worries,” he said.
Obama said that “most of you have been great friends,” supporting him back to his U.S. Senate runs. He noted the campaign has 29 days left, and also noted that he and his wife celebrated their 29th anniversary. “It was on debate night,” he said, so they scheduled a date night on Saturday.
“We snuck out…there was a little private room,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I was giving my wife undivided attention.”
“The waiter … at the end, as I was signing the check – and yes, I still do have a credit card,” he said, “he said, ‘Mr. President…I just want you to know that you saved my mom’s life.’”
The waiter said his mother had a stroke, didn’t get qualified for Medicare, and because of the health care law “she was able to get insurance and pay for her medications.”
Obama said as the waiter left, “I told Michelle that probably once a day I get something like that.”
“It reminds me that what we do is not sport, it’s not simply about who’s up and who’s down in the polls,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s about that young man and his mom … and the belief that in this great country of ours, we’re going to make sure that every single person is treated with dignity and with respect.”
“That’s why we do this. That’s what these events are about.”
He said his friend, Pam, was right. “I am very competitive. And I very much intend to win this election,” he said to cheers.
He urged supporters to have to be “almost obsessive” over the next 29 days, urging them to talk to “cousins and uncles and friends in battleground states.”
Speech lasted just a few minutes, and pool was ushered out as questions began.
It was a much more serene scene than outside, where crowds lined up hours in advance to get into the concert at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco to hear John Legend and Oakland-born Michael Franti perform. Crowd is estimated at 6,000, tickets started at $100, but those lower end tickets were sold out early on.
UPDATE @ 8:19 P.M.: Carla followed up with this tidbit: Pam Hamamoto, the former schoolmate who introduced the president at the dinner, is a major Obama bundler from Tiburon; records show she has raised $200,000 to $500,000 for the president.