President Barack Obama landed San Francisco Thursday afternoon, just days after opening a technology office in the City.
Courting donors in Democrat-rich California, Mr. Obama devoted all of Thursday to raising millions of dollars for his re-election bid and warning supporters that a long campaign awaits.
Obama was holding four fundraisers in the Los Angeles area and in San Francisco, reeling in campaign cash from reliable Democratic donors at a time when the Republican presidential contest remains unsettled. The president was expected to raise more than $8 million from events that will take him from California on Thursday to the Seattle area on Friday.
In the seaside community of Corona del Mar, the president told more than 100 supporters at a breakfast that his 2008 campaign brought a "sense of possibility" of moving the country in a new
direction. "We've begun that process but the journey is not yet complete," Obama said.
Obama said the economy has made progress, hours after the government reported that applications for unemployment benefits dropped for the fourth time in five weeks to the lowest point since March 2008.
"People are starting to get the sense that the economy is on the rebound," he said.
California has been a mainstay of Democratic party fundraising, and a reliably blue state, and Obama's campaign expected to collect millions from six events in Los Angeles and San Francisco over two days.
Supporters at Obama's first event paid ticket prices starting at $2,500 for a reception under a white tent that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. The president was then traveling to San Francisco to meet with 20 supporters paying $35,800 per person, followed by a dinner for 70 people each paying the same amount.
A larger fundraiser was planned at the Nob Hill Masonic Center for 2,500 people, featuring a performance by singer Chris Cornell. Tickets started at $100 for the reception. The events support the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Republicans pounced on the political emphasis of the trip.
"President Obama seems to think Americans actually prefer campaigning over governing, although the 12 million unemployed Americans and others struggling with today's economy might beg to differ," Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman at the Republican National Committee, said.
The president raised more than $220 million for his campaign and the DNC in 2011 and is trying to use a protracted Republican presidential primary to build a financial buffer to help his cause in the November general election. Democrats have warned that outside groups supporting Republicans will pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the campaign against Obama.
Obama was making his first fundraising trip outside Washington since his campaign announced it would encourage supporters to donate to a Democratic super political action committee backing Obama's re-election. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives do not plan to appear at events for the super PAC, Priorities USA.
It was also Obama's first trip to Hollywood since Congress delayed action on legislation cracking down on online piracy. The legislation was pushed by the film industry and garnered major opposition from Internet companies, pitting two Democratic constituencies against each other, before it stalled.
Obama has said any legislation must protect intellectual property that creates jobs in the U.S., while still respecting the integrity of the Internet as an open system.
The president was traveling along the West Coast as Congress moved forward on an agreement to extend a payroll tax cut that would mean an extra $40 per paycheck for a typical family, along with an extension of unemployment benefits. The payroll tax break was as the heart of Obama's jobs plan.