Money, star power and Hollywood awaited President Barack Obama on a West Coast swing featuring a bit of official business, but mostly fundraising for a Democratic Party eager to go on offense after a politically debilitating two months.
Obama arrived Sunday evening in Seattle. He also planned stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, raising money for House and Senate Democrats as well as the national party.
High-profile events on the schedule included a reception at the home of retired basketball star Earvin "Magic'' Johnson and his wife, Cookie, in Beverly Hills, Calif., and one at the house of Marta Kauffman, co-creator of television's ``Friends.''
"In the year before an election like this, I think the most tangible way that an incumbent president of either party, frankly, can benefit his party's prospects in congressional races is to try to help them raise money,'' White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. ``And I would anticipate that the president's efforts on that front will continue into next year.''
The trip comes as Obama's health care law approaches a crucial Nov. 30 deadline for an improved insurance enrollment website whose catastrophic start Oct. 1 dealt a serious political blow to the White House. Also, the U.S. and other world powers just sealed a historic deal with Iran for a temporary freeze of its nuclear program.
In addition to a half-dozen fundraisers, Obama intended to use the trip to keep the heat on Congress to pass an overhaul of immigration laws. He planned to address that issue during a stop Monday at a Chinese recreation center in San Francisco, and to promote his economic agenda Tuesday at the DreamWorks Animation studio in Glendale, Calif.
In recent days White House officials have tried to draw attention back to the economy to avoid getting bogged down by the botched launch of the health care enrollment.
Lately, Obama has devoted time to raising money for the party, helping the Democratic National Committee reduce a massive 2012 debt and build up cash for House and Senate Democratic Committees.
The White House has been especially attentive to Senate Democrats to ensure that the party retains its majority in the chamber. The House is controlled by the Republican Party.
In Seattle, he was set to attend two events Sunday, one at the home of Tom Campion, co-founder of the clothing chain Zumiez, and the other at the house of a former Microsoft executive, Jon Shirley.
In San Francisco, there are discounted tickets available for tomorrow's fundraiser.
According to an e-mail to potential donors, some ticket prices are being cut by as much as 50 percent.
Tickets for the luncheon at the San Francisco Jazz Center went from $1,000 to $500.
But tickets for a select few VIPs to meet with the president at Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff's home in San Francisco are still going for top dollar--at more than $32,000.