Less than a week after kicking off his re-election bid, President Obama tested his campaign voice in the voter-friendly Bay Area on Wednesday. Speaking before young voters and wealthy donors, he urged his supporters to renew their faith and strengthen their resolve to keep him in office.
Obama’s overnight trip, which included a stop at Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters and a string of high-priced fundraisers in San Francisco, comes at a time when he is under increasing pressure from Republicans and his restive progressive base.
For the most part, the president avoided sniping at his political enemies. Instead he reached for his tried-and-true theme of hope, while calling for patience.
“There are times when some of you have felt frustrated because we haven’t gotten everything done as fast as we wanted,” he told several hundred Democratic faithful at a fundraiser at the Nob Hill Masonic Center Wednseday night. “There are times when I felt the same way as you do. Change is not simple.”
Obama repeatedly reminded the crowd of his accomplishments, including the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act, the end to combat operations in Iraq, and his health care reform law, which he conceded fell short of what some in the San Francisco audience wanted.
“There’s more to be done,” he said. “When I think about running for re-election, I don’t look backwards, I look forward.”
Still, on a night when a turntablist named DJ Hope provided the music, Obama's speech was like so many he gave in 2008.
The president struck familiar notes — and elicited familiar shouts of approval — as he reminded the crowd of the possibilities in a country that “elected a guy named Barack Obama.”
Obama told the audience, “A few things have changed since the last time around. I’m a little older. I’m a little grayer.”
He was cut off by a young woman in the audience, whose cry sparked laughter throughout the auditorium.
“That’s alright, you still fine,” the woman yelled.
David Plouffe, the president’s senior advisor, asked the crowd to give more of their time and energy to the campaign than in 2007 and 2008.
The president needs his supporters to “make the case all across the country,” Plouffe said, “that we have to stay on this path, that we are headed in the right direction.”
This is the first of many campaign swings through California for the president. Analysts say he will be even more dependent on donations from top Democratic sources in the entertainment and tech industries in 2012. Big money donors from Wall Street, frustrated with his administration's efforts to reform the banking industry, are more likely to send their contributions to Republican candidates.
In all, the two-day trip is expected to raise up to $4 million, mostly for the Democratic party, but also for Obama’s re-election, which Plouffe warned would be even more difficult than 2008.
"I want to remind you of the progress we've made," said Obama just before leaving the stage. "I want you to be excited for the future. I want to remind you of those three simple words: Yes We Can."