President Obama urged about 2,500 boisterous supporters to “finish what they started” in 2008 at a sold-out fundraising event in San Francisco, which is part of his West Coast reelection effort.
The audience at the Masonic Center auditorium booed, cheered, and joked with the president as he touched on topics including Wall Street reform, education, scientific research funding, alternative energy investment and the nation’s debt.
The speech elicited several standing ovations – particularly when Obama discussed the 2010 health care reform law, and then again when he said that the government needed to eliminate tax breaks for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.
“Because of you we’ve been able to make great progress over these past two years, but that progress can’t make us content,” Obama told the crowd. “It should remind us that change, yes, it’s possible. But we’ve got to finish what we started.”
The speech was the president’s third stop and second fundraising effort during a 21-hour trip to the Bay Area, which also included a virtual town hall at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto.
Prior to speaking at the Masonic Auditorium, Obama attended a private dinner that cost attendees $35,800 each, a Democratic official said. The dinner was held at the Pacific Heights home of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, according to reports.
Obama is also attending a similarly priced breakfast event this morning at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco before heading down to Los Angeles for more fundraising, the official said.
The Masonic Center’s audience members paid between $25 and $10,000 per ticket.
Despite the friendly crowd – which included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek – Obama seemed to be trying to regain some of the enthusiasm of his 2008 campaign.
He announced he would be running his reelection campaign from Chicago – the first time a reelection effort hasn’t been based in Washington, he said – and poked fun at his supporters from 2008 who have apparently become disenchanted with him.
“They say, ‘How come he compromised on this or that? He should have done it that way’. Everybody’s a political consultant,” Obama joked. “‘I’m sure if he had done it that way, we could have gotten health care done in two weeks.'”
Several speakers appeared before Obama, including NFL hall of famer Jerry Rice, and encouraged those in attendance to respond affirmatively to the Obama 2012 campaign slogan: “Are you in?”
Photo from Nob Hill Masonic Hall Event: Bay City News
Janna Brancolini, Bay City News