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SEATTLE -- President Barack Obama sounded a nostalgic personal note Sunday night and offered a rare self-assessment while criticizing congressional Republicans as an impediment to governing during the start of a West Coast fundraising tour for the Democratic Party.

Obama told donors the sight of Mount Rainier illuminated by a setting sun was particularly special because it reminded him of his mother, who attended high school in the Seattle area. I feel the spirit of my mom, he said.

He also attempted to contrast himself with Republicans who control the House of Representatives, saying they are more focused on positioning themselves for the next election.

I'm not a particularly ideological person, he said, adding he still is passionate about giving people a fair shake, about the environment, and working for peace and national security. But I'm pretty pragmatic about how we get there.

Pres. Obama arrived at his first event at the North Seattle home of Zumiez co-founder Tom Campion at around 5 p.m. About 150 people lined the streets.

Environmental activists were some of the first people to show up Sunday afternoon, many of them protesting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Some chanted Hey, Obama, we don t want your pipeline drama.

The President then headed across Lake Washington to for a second fundraiser at the Medina home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley.

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.

This has really been a critical state for healthcare reform, we have a successful exchange in this state, and I suspect Obama is going to focus on the success of his program here, said Paul Berendt, who is a former chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party

The last time a President flew out of SeaTac Airport was President Bush, back in 2007.

After leaving Seattle, the president will make stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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