The following a pool report from Wall Street Journal reporter Laura Meckler from the W Hotel in San Francisco.
Asked for notables at the San Fran funder, a Democratic official pointed to Shervin Pishevar, head of Menlo Ventures.
President Obama made a direct appeal for help in the upcoming election. “Whether you are an old grizzled veteran or new to the scene, I need your help,” he said. He said that the coming election was “more consequential, more important” to the future of nation and its kids than the last one.
He talked about the economic crisis facing the country and his vision for the nation.
“America should be a place where you can make it if you try... a country where everyone has a fair shake and everyone does their fair share.”
He talked about his jobs bill in familiar terms and referred to the tax increases by saying the bill was fully paid for “by asking those of us who’ve been most blessed in this society to do a little bit more.”
He said his jobs bill would “give the economy the jolt it needs right now.”
He pointed to the recent Senate bill that taxed those earning over $1 million per year to give state aid to retain teacher and other public sector jobs. He said that for someone making $1.1 million a year, “that’s an extra $500, 500 bucks.” The audience replied with some laughter. “That would save 400,000 jobs all across the country.” He said they were “not just any jobs but jobs that are vital” to the well being of our kids and communities. He said most people he knows “would make that contribution willingly,” and the audience applauded in agreement.
“So this is the fight we’re having right now. This is frankly what the next year is going to be about.”
He said Republicans have two proposals for the economy: tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations, paid for by gutting programs, and gutting regulations.
He said he agrees that some regs need to go and that’s what his administration has done.
“What we can’t do and what I won’t do is to let this economic crisis to be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.”
He said the U.S. should not be in a “race to the bottom” to strip away protections and rights, and said that the country tried this approach to its detriment, citing the financial system.
“It’s not as if we haven’t tried what they’re selling. We have and it didn’t work.”
He paid homage to entrepreneurs in the room but said that many of them were helped by the public sector on their way up.
“There’s always been another thread in our history that says we’re all connected. That there are some things we can do better as a nation. Some things we can do better together. A big chunk of the entrepreneurs who are in this room, you got an education somewhere and someone paid for it. You got a college scholarship somewhere along the line and somebody paid for it. Somewhere along the line, you were able to use the platforms and technologies that have been developed because collectively we decided we were going to invest in basic research. There were rules of the road that governed our economic system that allowed you to prosper.”
He spoke about previous presidents and the investments they made in the nation and then turned personal. “My grandfather would not have gone to college had it not been for the GI bill and Republicans in Congress who supported that along with FDR to make that happen.”
“That’s what this election is all about. It’s the reason I’m standing here, because somebody gave me a shot, somebody gave me a fair shake.” He said that required not just his mother or grandmother but an “entire society” who invested. “That is true for most of you.”
“The question is are we going to continue that story, are we going to continue on that journey for our kids and grandkids?”
Yes, he said, we have to reduce the deficit but “we can’t just cut our way out of prosperity.” He then spoke of the need for infrastructure investments in order for the U.S. to be competitive with the world.
He transitioned into a pep talk.
“That’s what we’re fighting for, that’s what’s at stake right now. That’s why I need your help.”
He said it’s easy to get cynical about Washington.
“Here’s what I want you to remember. The one way to guarantee that change won’t happen is for all of us to give up, to give in, to go home.”
“If we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people `you’re on your own.’ … That’s not the America I believe in, it’s not the America you believe in. We’re going to have to fight for the America that we believe in.”
“Change is hard. Change takes time. But change is possible.” He compared this to the situation after the depression, to the civil rights movement, and going to the moon.
He said that change is evident in a variety of accomplishments including pay equity, financial regulatory reform, don’t ask don’t tell repeal, bringing all troops home from Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan, and health insurance access.
“Change is possible. We’ve made change and we’ve made it because of you. So the question is how committed are you going to be to continue this process?”
He said he keeps a checklist of his campaign promises. “We’ve gotten about 60% done so far in three years, but I need another five to get the other 40% done.” He said unfinished works includes immigration reform, energy policy that deals with climate change in a serious way, education reform and growing the economy.
The election is about values, he said.
“Who are we? What do we believe in? What do we care about?”
“We didn’t promise you easy. But we said that together we’ve got this vision of what we want America to look like. We’ve made a lot of change but we have a lot more work to do.”
He then went into his riff on how his isn’t so trendy anymore vs, 2008 when he was the “new new thing.”
“If we remind ourselves than we are tougher than the times we’re in….then I’m absolutely confident we are not just going to win this election. We’re going to remind everyone around the world just why it is America is the greatest country in the world.”