Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Big Money: Obama Comes To Free Will Territory To Raise Funds

Not to brag, but Free Will HQ is located near some of San Francisco's ritziest neighborhoods. Last night, I had to make a detour on my drive home because the police were blocking a couple blocks off from traffic (Jackson @ Presidio, if you must know). There were plenty of gawkers and TV crews, plus the cops were all in a jolly mood, so you knew nobody was dead or anything. And looking down the hill of the closed off street, I could see a large white tent outside one of the bigger mansions*. Live in San Francisco long enough, and you'll know what that means: Presidential fund raiser!

Obama's two-day trip to California this week has another important purpose - fundraising.

The Democratic presidential candidate will headline six fundraisers in San Francisco and Los Angeles that could raise millions for the Democratic National Committee and his campaign.

The president's trip, his ninth visit to California since he was elected in 2008, will include four events to pick up campaign cash in the Bay Area - including two at Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco expected to draw 2,500 attendees each, with tickets ranging from $25 for general admission to $10,000 for a VIP reception.

A more exclusive gathering will be a private dinner for 60 supporters at the Pacific Heights home of CEO Marc Benioff that is sold out at $35,800 a seat.

Obama addressed rising gasoline prices at the San Francisco event Benioff hosted, even while acknowledging that donors at the $35,800-per-plate event weren’t personally struggling with costs at the pump.

“Right now we’ve got $4-a-gallon gas, and most of the people under this tent don’t have to worry about that. But for the average person who has to drive 50 miles to work and can’t afford to buy the Tesla, it’s hammering them. It’s hurting them,” Obama said, according to a White House transcript that notes the Tesla comment drew laughter.

Tesla Motors is a California-based company that makes an electric sports car that sells for more than $100,000, while the sedan Tesla plans to make available next year is about half that price.

Obama added:

“So there’s a huge economic imperative. There’s a national security imperative, as well, because we see what’s happening in the Middle East and we understand that a finite resource that is primarily located in a very unstable part of the world is not good for our long-term future.”

Honestly, you can practically hear the exasperation. Why, oh why, do Americans complain about high gas prices? And too bad they can't afford to buy Teslas, har har. And yeah, there might be a lot of Middle Eastern oil that is perpetually subject to "instability" - brought about your administration's wrong footed approaches to the various uprisings in the region, I might add - but there's a lot of oil here in the US, even in California, which we're not really allowed to exploit. And so on. Not that I would expect anyone at a $35,000 a head fund raiser to make those points. Obama's critics are more exercised about trivia like the imprisonment of Bradley Manning

As it happens, I was listening to Mark Levin's show when I had to make my detour. Right at that moment Levin started ranting about how Obama was going to fund raising events in San Francisco, rather than visit tornado victims in North Carolina. Talk about niche programming.

UPDATE: Zombie, of course, has the guest list.

*some local knowledge for you. The mansions on this part of Jackson Street are some of the most desirable addresses in the City because they border on the Presidio and have sweeping views of the Golden Gate.

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