The White House’s vow to keep the foreign affairs on the front burner during a fundraising trip this week appears to be unnecessary.
It was clear from President Obama’s first stop Tuesday that the world headlines would trail him on his money chase. Arriving for an afternoon reception with donors, Obama was greeted by pro-Palestinian protesters camped outside the waterfront home of Ann and Bruce Blume, Obama bundlers.
The group of about 40 protesters waved signs decrying Israel’s ground assault in Gaza – “End the occupation, Mr. President. Stop Apartheid” – and chanted “Free Palestine!”
A group of protesters camped along the route of the presidential motorcade is not unusual, although the topic is more often the Keystone Pipeline than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This group was also notable for how close they were to the driveway of the ivy-covered home with the views of Lake Washington. About 250 people paid $500 to $20,000 to attend the reception benefiting the Democratic National Committee, according to a DNC official.
Obama referred in his remarks to the many world troubles on his plate. As he often does in his fundraising speeches, Obama said that despite progress under his tenure, Americans still feel “anxious.” He usually attributes that anxiety to economic uncertainty, but Tuesday he added “some big challenges overseas,” including the war in Ukraine, “Russia’s aggression toward its neighbors,” the Syrian civil war, terrorist threats, Israel and Gaza.
The effect, Obama said, is “just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles.”
For Obama’s part, he joked that he doesn’t watch a lot of the troubling news on television. He doesn’t watch TV news at all, he said. "Whatever they're reporting about, usually I know,” he said.
The president’s next stop was at the home of former Costco Chief Executive Jim Sinegal. The event was hosted by the Senate Majority PAC, a so-called super PAC that is allowed to accept unlimited amounts from donors. (Obama once decried all super PACs and then switched gears to help Democratic super PACs raise money, arguing that to do otherwise put the party at a disadvantage.)
The White House called Tuesday’s event a “round table” not a fundraiser, because the president wouldn't directly solicit donors but rather meet and greet them, officials said.
The event was closed to reporters and the White House referred questions about details to the Senate Majority PAC. A spokesman for the PAC would not disclose the number of people attending or how much each had contributed, but confirmed a Seattle Times report putting the per person donation at $25,000.
After his Seattle appearances, Obama was to travel to the Bay Area and Los Angeles, where events are scheduled Wednesday and Thursday.
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