President Obama in Bay Area for Fundraiser, Draws Criticism

President Barack Obama is in the Bay Area for a short fundraising visit, drawing some criticism.

Some are questioning the timing of the president's trip and the message it might be sending in light of the current international crisis.

The streets surrounding the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown San Francisco were filled with onlookers Wednesday morning hoping to catch a glimpse of the president, who attended an event at the hotel.

Obama made it to the hotel, located at 757 Market St., just before 9:20 a.m. to speak at a House Majority PAC event, which was not a ticketed or fundraising program.

The president had stayed a few blocks away at the InterContinental Hotel after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday night.

Crowds gathered to wait for Obama to exit the Four Seasons as San Francisco police on motorcycles instructed onlookers to remain on the sidewalk.

A family of five visiting from Holland on vacation was waiting at the corner of Fourth and Market streets around 9:30 a.m.

The mother said they were "in a bit of a jam. We want to see Obama, but we have to go to Alcatraz."

The father was busy snapping photos of the heavy police presence and blocked streets.

A couple from Barcelona was on their honeymoon and decided to wait for Obama mid-block on Fourth Street near Mission Street. They also had plans to go to Alcatraz this afternoon, but were willing to spend their morning outside the hotel to see the U.S. president.

Eventually Obama's motorcade zoomed down Fourth Street just before 10:30 a.m. and the president could be seen waving and smiling from the back of a large black SUV.

Obama was headed to a noon event at the private residence of Judy and George Marcus in Los Altos Hills to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

George Marcus is the founder of the real estate brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap.

Other dignitaries expected at the noon event, which had tickets ranging from $10,000 to $32,400 per couple, include House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

Protesters supporting net neutrality plan demonstrated outside the presidential visit.

The group, organized by, is urging Obama to support unrestricted, equal access to the Internet.

Organizers have said they are demanding Obama keep his promise to preserve the "open Internet" and publicly state that he supports the Federal Communications Commission treating the Internet as a public utility.

Net neutrality advocates have been rallying against FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to create a two-tiered system that would allow service providers to offer faster connection speeds for fee-paying content providers and a second, slower speed for others.

Hillary Clinton is also in the Bay Area Wednesday to help launch a reading program in Oakland. She was in Silicon Valley earlier this week, visiting Facebook, Twitter and Google to promote her new book.

Obama will continue onto Los Angeles on an early Wednesday afternoon flight from SFO to end a three-day West Coast fundraising trip.

Prior to his Bay Area visit, Obama was in Seattle on Tuesday.

With his travels coinciding with crises abroad in Ukraine and in Gaza, Obama made a last-minute decision to scrap an appearance with late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel.

In Washington, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell faulted Obama for not being in town while Congress debates vital legislation.

"I'm not going to give him advice about how to allocate his time, but he's certainly not spending the kind of time with the people he needs to pass legislation and convince people who have a vote, who were sent here to legislate, of the virtues of whatever position he has," McConnell said.

White House officials say Obama is more than able to carry out all his duties and attend to crises while on the road.

"In terms of fundraising, it's a responsibility that presidents in both parties for generations have been responsible for," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday. "And the president, like his predecessors, is interested in supporting members of his party who are on the ballot in 2014 and that's part of what he'll be doing over the course of this week.

Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright BAYCN - Bay City News
Contact Us