MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) — During his latest fundraising visit to the Bay Area on Thursday evening, President Barack Obama said he planned to spend more time here relaxing after he leaves office.
“He says when his term is over he’s going to be enjoying California more. He told me how much he likes Mountain View,” Mountain View Mayor John Ink said after shaking the president’s hand following his arrival on Air Force One at Moffett Field.
Ink, after getting a closeup glimpse of Obama, described the president as looking “very good for having a tough job. That is a job that wears on you.” Obama later remarked on the difficulties of his job, noting that people have routinely commented about his graying hair.
Despite the pressures, “I have never been more optimistic about America than I am right now,” the president said, adding that he remains optimistic – in part- because of the businesses he sees in Silicon Valley.
Obama also indicated that he’s starting to see some “glimmers of functionality” in Washington, but noted he’s still not getting the cooperation he needs from Congress. He carried that theme to separate fundraisers at the Palo Alto home of Flipboard CEO Mike McCue and the sprawling Portola Valley residence of Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla.
Obama told the Democratic donors, who paid between $2,500 and $32,400 to hear his remarks, that Democrats don’t have “a monopoly on wisdom.” He said Democrats aren’t overly ideological at the moment and don’t think government can do everything. But he added that Democrats do think government has a “role to play” no matter how robust the private sector is.
“There are some things we do better together… often the private sector cannot or will not make those investments,” Obama said.
The U.S. has everything going for it, Obama maintained, but acknowledged that millions of people are still missing out on opportunity. He said the only way he can change that is if Americans elect members of Congress who share his optimism and are willing to compromise.
“We’ve got to get this right, and the only way I’m going to be able to do that is if I’ve got people in Congress who share my optimism and share the sense that there are solutions out there and that compromise is not a dirty word,” he said.
Obama did hail bipartisan efforts to overhaul immigration law and protect innovators, such as those in Silicon Valley, from so-called patent trolls — companies that obtain patents but don’t do actual research or development. Those companies can use their patents to seek licensing fees from others who make products or provide services.
McCue said Obama “absolutely understands what’s happening in Silicon Valley” and has “a holistic approach to the economy,” understanding that the economy and society are intertwined.
After an extraordinary economic crisis, the president told the crowd that things are getting better. He said the economy was coming back, jobs are being created every month, the auto industry has recovered and financial markets are stabilizing.
However, he cautioned that roadblocks like budget sequestration were freezing funds for important research that could move the economy forward.
Whether it’s education, infrastructure, or fiscal policies, Obama said resolution of a number of bigger issues remained stymied because there was still too much “obstruction” and “interest in winning elections” coming from the Republican Party – and “not enough interest in solving problems.”
“The reason that Washington is a problem is that right now, it’s broken – it’s not working the way it needs to,” he observed. “So in order for us to accomplish that, we’re going to need to have a Democratic Senate.”
Obama was staying overnight in the Bay Area and was scheduled to deliver a talk about the Affordable Care Act and its benefits for Californians at the Fairmont hotel in San Jose on Friday morning.
In a preview of those remarks, Obama told donors Thursday night that no other advanced nation lacks universal health care and so this must be made to happen here.
His latest fundraising trip to the Bay Area came as the town of Atherton was seeking to recoup the security costs from the president’s last visit here in April.
In Palo Alto however, city spokesperson Claudia Keith said Thursday’s security costs would be paid for by the city.
“Palo Alto is not going to ask for a reimbursement because this is something we routinely plan for in our local law enforcement budgets. That’s part of our normal operating procedures,” she said.
While he was in town again, some protesters sought to let Obama know how they felt about issues such as the Keystone XL, a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from tar sands in Canada to the Gulf Coast. The project has been harshly criticized by environmentalists.
“We want to show him we’re passionate about this issue and remind him what he campaigned on,” said Fay Chazin-Seidelman, who participated in a protest near the site of Obama’s first fundraiser. “He speaks to wanting to reduce global warming and climate change and he’s very big on alternative energy sources, so it would be kind of hypocritical for him to in any way consider supporting the Keystone pipeline.”
In speaking before the donors, Obama said climate change would be the most important choice this generation makes. In the face of science that’s “irrefutable,” he said we have to balance clean energy and other means of carbon reduction with economic growth.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. White House press pool reports contributed to this article.)