President Barack Obama spent about four hours in Seattle on Sunday, raising money from a small group of wealthy donors in Medina before rallying a larger audience gathered at the Paramount Theater.
While he's working hard to raise money for his 2012 campaign, heurged supporters to help pass his jobs plan now.
The next election is 14 months away and the American people cannot wait, he told the Paramount crowd. They do not have the luxury ofus squabbling for another 14 months.
Protesters filled downtown Seattle before thePresident even touched down in Washington. Their causes were many, frompleas to stop immigration raids tocalls for President Obama to end wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A small group representing the Tea Party held signs calling the president's plan to tax wealthy Americans class warfare.
Sarah Weinberg, a retired pediatrician who supports a national health care program, voiced concerns about President Obama.
I'm not happy with how he's doing, she said. I was very excited in 2008 and now I can't see a whole lot of difference between him and the Republicans.
But hundreds of eager supporters also made their voices heard. Serita Smith attended the president's inauguration in 2009 and continues to support him.
It took Bush eight years to make the mess we're in, she said. It's going to take another eight to get out of it, so let him do his job.
The entry price to the first event, a brunch event at the home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley, was $38,500 per couple. Tickets to theParamount event started at $100 each, with some paying as much as $1,000 or $5,000 a ticket.
After landing at Boeing Field just before noon, Obama traveled to Medina via I-5 north and the 520 floating bridge. Security was high, with police enforcing a rolling closure of the highways as the presidential motorcade passed. The huge motorcade included at least 30 motorcycle escorts, two limousines, black SUVs with security personnel and white vans carrying the traveling press corps.
At the Medina fundraiser, the president conceded the 2012 election will be especially hard because a lot of people are discouraged but he vowed to keep drawing a clear contrast between his vision and that of the Republicans, according to a report from a White House pool reporter.
The alternative I think is an approach to government that would fundamentally cripple America in meeting the challenges of the 21st Century and that's not the kind of society that I want to bequeath to Malia and Sasha, and your children and your grandchildren, Obama told the audience of wealthy donors.
The pool reporter described the room in Shirley's home as an airy, vast rectangular space, like entering a wing at a contemporary art museum - all white from the floors to the tall ceiling, large paintings lining the wall [and] sculptures throughout.
The reporter's account said the 65 attendees were seated in the middle of the room at round tables with burnt orange table cloths and sunflower centerpieces.
Noteworthy attendees at the Medina event included Bill Neukom, the San Francisco Giants general manager; Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco, and Gerald Grinstein, strategic director Madrona Venture Group, previously CEO of Delta.
Later at the Paramount, the president touted his jobs bill and urged the crowd to work actively for his agenda. I've come because I need you to help me finish what we started in 2008, he said.
He said he was proud to be a warrior for the middle class, and dismissed GOP charges that the president's tax plan amounts to class warfare: The only class warfare I've seen is the battle waged against the middle class, Obama said. It's about priorities.
He spoke for about a half an hour. Before leaving, he shook hands with supporters both inside and outside the theater.
It was pretty cool, said Kristine Petereit, whose daughter got an autograph from Obama. It wasn't easy four years ago and I think it'sgoing to be much harder this time, but my kids are bigger, they have more endurance and we'll be out on the pavement wavingsigns for the president.
A Democratic Party official told KING5's Joe Fryer that 2,000 people total were in the Paramount to hear the president speak. That total included at least six busloads of students from the Highline School District.
The Robert Cray Band was scheduled to provide entertainment at the second event, and former NBA players Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens stood together at the podium to introduce the president.
Funds raised at both events will benefit the Obama Victory Fund, which goes to the Democratic National Committee and the Obama 2012 campaign.
Hours before Obama arrived at the Paramount, a hundred or so protesters had gathered at 8th and Pine, just outside the security perimeter set up by police and the Secret Service. Most of the protesters represented liberal groups advocating a number of policies, from protecting Social Security and Medicare to rejecting plans to build an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Brian and Paula King of Lake City were there to support the agenda of the National Jobs for All Coalition, a group that wants the federal government to create a massive jobs program along the lines of what President Franklin Roosevelt created during the Depression.
We should be urging more action to drop the unemployment rate, Brian King said.
The Kings voted for Obama in 2008 and said they plan to vote for him again in 2012. They showed up near the Paramount, they said, to represent people who want the president to do more to help the unemployed.
Max Shuman and Chris Robertson came out to urge Obama to do more to crack down on Wall Street excesses and the corporate takeover of government. Shuman, who lives in Capitol Hill, said he's upset that the gap between the wealthy and the middle class and poor Americans is growing every day.
Shuman added that he's willing to vote for a Republican presidential candidate in 2012 if he thinks Obama's opponent has a better economic plan.
I'll support the best candidate, period, he said.
He held a sign promoting the website occupyWallStreet.org -- a leftist movement that's been staging protests in Manhattan's financial district for the past week.
The protests were organized by community and labor groups including the Washington State Labor Council and the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans.
With the Seahawks hosting their home opener at 1:15 p.m. against the Arizona Cardinals, a traffic nightmare was predicted. The rolling street closures downtown and along I-5 North and 520 East did not appear to cause much of a backup while Obama traveled from Boeing Field to Medina around 12:15 p.m., but I-5 southbound was backed up north of the 520 interchange around 2 p.m. as Obama's motorcade traveled from Medina to the Paramount.
Fans gathering early outside CenturyLink Field were in prime position to see Air Force One approaching Boeing Field just before noon. The huge 747 aircraft, with its blue and white coloring and presidential seal, was easily identifiable as it passed over downtown.
President Obama held no public events during his brief visit to Seattle. I-5 South was closed briefly after 3 p.m. as the presidential motorcade moved from the Paramount back to Boeing Field, where Air Force One lifted off at 3:55 p.m.
Obama will spend the next two days in California raising money and attending a town hall event on Monday hosted by LinkedIn at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
A Republican Party spokesman said Obama was doing little to promote job creation during his West Coast swing.
Instead of addressing job creation for Washington, President Obama seems to only be interested in using the state as an ATM for his campaign coffers, said Ryan Mahoney of the RNC. Sadly, President Obama s western fundraising swing proves once again that he s less concerned about jobs for Washingtonians, than he is about protecting his own.