Obama Touches Down

Several San Francisco streets are closed and bus routes altered to accommodate president's visit

By Lori Preuitt
|  Wednesday, May 26, 2010  |  Updated 1:47 PM PDT
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RAW VIDEO: President Obama Arrives at SFO

The president arrives to an audience of one in San Francisco Tuesday.
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Yep, that big plane you saw flying into SFO Tuesday afternoon was Air Force One.

President Barack Obama is making a whirlwind tour of the Bay Area starting tonight.  He will be back in the air by lunch tomorrow.

Air Force One touched down around 5:15 p.m.    Mr. Obama stepped out of the plane to find a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

At the bottom of the stairs stood one dignitary: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.   Getty Images snapped an interesting picture of a moment when it appeared the president was giving the mayor a salute, with Newsom's gesture as if to say "Why are you doing that?"

The two chatted for about all of a minute and then the president's motorcade snarled 280 traffic on his way to the City.  

As the president arrived on the "streets of San Francisco," people who just happened to be on the sidewalk stopped to wave as they got swept up in the hoopla of a presidential moment.

During his 19-hour visit, Mr. Obama will host two fundraisers for Sen. Barbara Boxer as he taps into the infamous Bay Area ATM. 

His first stop was at the Fairmont Hotel, where he slipped in without being seen by the hundred or so protesters gathered outside. 

The first event was a family affair for Boxer.  Her daughter-in-law Amy opened the evening.  Boxer's husband Stuart was also there as well as her son Doug and two grandchildren.  

Boxer thanked the crowd for the "huge success" of the event. "Our state is hurting and I don’t sugarcoat that. In that regard, there’s a clear choice in this United States Senate election.  One of the clearest choices, regardless of who wins the Republican primary," Boxer said.

The Fairmont event alone raised a reported $600,000 for her re-election campaign.  Some estimates have the total money grab for Boxer at $1.5 million in one night.  The mere fact that the president made the fundraising visit so early in the campaign season was seen as a signal the Democrats are not taking the race for granted. This is his second time in as many month that Obama has raised money for Boxer.

During his portion of the event, Obama chided Republicans for sitting on the sidelines and putting politics ahead of the needs of the American people.

"There are members of their base who think if somebody even smiles at me, they think, 'You're a traitor, you smiled at Obama,"' the president said.

The Fairmont visit was followed by dinner at the Pacific Heights home of Ann and Gordon Getty.   Security was extremely tight in that neighborhood.  Details were so scarce, it was hard to confirm that beef was going to be served for dinner.

The Fairmont was the bargain of the night.  Tickets there were as low as $250, but he didn't even stay a full hour.

The main event was the Getty mansion.  A seat at that table set guests back $35,000 a couple.

Here's a partial guest list:

  • San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris
  • Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown
  • Rev. Cecil Williams
  • Silicon Valley tech insider Wade Randlett
  • Craigslist founder Craig Newmark
  • Steve Westly
  • Attorney Joe Cochett
  • Sim Farar
  • Patrick Daniels

 Boxer's opponent will be decided in a June 8 GOP primary that pits former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina against former Rep. Tom Campbell and California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who has been endorsed by the leaders of the tea party movement.  Campbell and Fiorina held a radio debate Tuesday in Southern California.

Traffic was tied up throughout the City for most of Tuesday afternoon.   Things will also be a little crazy Wednesday morning as the president makes his way out of the city and into Fremont. 

Just as the commute starts to die down, Mr. Obama will head down to Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturing plant.  While there the president will discuss his efforts to create jobs and  strengthen the economy.  Solyndra is currently under construction, but the factory is expected to create as many as 1,000 jobs. After a quick tour and photo op, it's back to SFO.

Air Force One is scheduled for take off around noon.

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