SEATTLE -- People lined the streets near a Madrona waterfront home and a downtown theater Thursday as President Barack Obama visited Seattle for two fundraisers for his re-election campaign.
Obama's Seattle visit was his first trip following his announcement Wednesday that he supported the right of same-sex couples to marry. Several people waved signs thanking the president for his new support for gay marriage.
Gay marriage will likely be an issue for Washington voters in November. Earlier this year the Legislature approved gay marriage. Opponents of the new law said this week they have more than half of the signatures they need to qualify a proposed referendum seeking to overturn it.
The president arrived at Boeing Field just before noon. Accompanied by Senator Patty Murray, the president walked off Air Force One to the applause of an 11-member greeting party led by Governor Chris Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine and former Congressman and Washington Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee.
Obama took photos with a group of greeters and shook hands with a group of about 75 supporters on the tarmac. The president then departed the airport in a motorcade for his first fundraiser in the Madrona neighborhood.
Friendly and curious locals watched as the president's motorcade passed through the hilly, verdant area, including a woman sitting in the grass holding a hooded infant with a bright yellow sign with black letters that read: "Thank You! Mr. President for standing up for my Mommys."
The president attended his first fundraiser - a $35,800-per-couple brunch at the waterfront home of Ann and Bruce Blume along Lake Washington. Bruce works in commercial real estate and Ann works for a non-profit. Both have been longtime Democratic donors. Click here for photos of their Lake Washington home.
Speaking to about 70 supporters, Obama made no mention of gay marriage during brief remarks that reporters were able to hear. He stuck to the main issue of his campaign -- the economy.
"The country is on a path of great strength and great promise," he said. "Slowly, in fits and starts, the economy is getting stronger."
He did not mention Romney by name but took a swipe at Republicans, saying the election will boil down to two competing views: "Do we believe that we grow together or do we believe that you're on your own?"
The fundrasier at the Blume household was catered by staff at Seattle catering company and dining club The Ruins. They served:
- Sweet potato latkes with tarragon aioli and house-smoked trout
- Pastry bundles filled with fennel sausage
- Endive spears with Dungeness crab and tarragon aioli
- Baked ham with biscuits and mustard cream
- Spinach and goat cheese frittatas
- Poached Columbia River King salmon
- House-made muffins and scones
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice
After the Madrona fundraiser, the president attended a sold-out event at the Paramount Theatre, where well-known Seattle musician Dave Matthews performed. A ticket costs $1,000 for general admission and $5,000 for a photo reception with the president.
Addressing thousands of cheering supporters in the historic gilt-decorated theater, the president spoke about the economy, clean energy and the vision he and his supporters have shared since 2008 that people succeed "no matter who you love." He made another reference to his stance on gay marriage while talking about his support of veterans and the armed forces.
"We're moving this country forward. We're not returning to the days when you can be kicked out of the military just because of who you are and who you love," said Obama. "We are moving forward to a country where every American is treated with dignity and with respect. And here in Washington you'll have the chance to make your voice heard on the issue of making sure that everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated fairly."
Seattle Kitchen host and recent James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur winner Tom Douglas prepared the meal for the Paramount fundraiser. On the menu: club salad, roasted turkey with spice rub and Yakima asparagus. Douglas has cooked for Obama five times and said the president is a fan of his coconut cream pie.
"He was giving a speech at my Ballroom and he ran out of time to have this dessert I had prepared for him because I heard he liked pie, and so I shoved it to his driver in his limousine," Douglas told KIRO FM. "Two days later I get a phone call and it's on my voice message and he says, 'Tom, this is Barack. Dude that coconut cream pie was over the top man.'"
The president departed Seattle for Los Angeles to attend a star-studded fundraising gala at the home of actor George Clooney Thursday night. About 150 donors - each paying $40,00 a seat - attended the dinner, prepared by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
Clooney's dinner was organized by Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, and will include such celebrity guests as Robert Downey Jr. and Barbra Streisand. The event was initially to be a spring gala hosted by Katzenberg at his house. But Katzenberg's home is under renovation, so Clooney offered to host instead.
This was Obama's sixth visit to Seattle, with his most recent in February of 2012. He visited Seattle in September of 2011 and twice in 2010. His first visit to Seattle was in February of 2008, just before he won the Democratic presidential nomination as a senator from Illinois.
KING 5's Liza Javier, Rob Piercy and the Associated Press contributed to this report.