PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — President Donald Trump arrived in the Bay Area Tuesday morning for the first time since his election for a Silicon Valley fundraiser shrouded in secrecy.
President Trump landed at Moffett Federal Air Field in Mountain View shortly before 11 a.m. after an overnight stay in New Mexico. He was expected to be in the Bay Area for only a few hours before heading to Southern California and a fundraiser in Beverly Hills.
The fundraiser was being held at the Portola Valley mansion of Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems. The four-story, 20-room mansion sits on a 581,526-square-foot lot on a hill overlooking Palo Alto. Video from Chopper 5 showed a large event tent on the grounds outside the home.
Attendees who paid to attend the fundraiser did not know the location until the last minute.
Following last month’s announcement of the fundraiser, attendees were being asked to RSVP, with tickets reportedly costing anywhere from $1,000 per person to $100,000 per couple. The latter included a chance to dine with Trump, as well as a photo opportunity with the President, according to the event invitation.
The White House was taking extraordinary steps to keep the details of the President’s visit under wraps in one of the most liberal regions in the country, where Republicans make up only 24 percent of registered voters. In the 2016 presidential election, 75 percent of Bay Area residents voted for Hillary Clinton, while 19 percent voted for Donald Trump.
The luncheon will mark the first time he has visited the Bay Area as President. Trump’s most recent visits to the Bay Area were met with protests, including a San Jose campaign rally in June of 2016 that ended in a bloody melee, with Trump supporters surrounded, chased and attacked as they left the event.
Two months earlier, Trump camp to speak at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame and was met by a large group of protesters. The then-Republican front-runner had to hop a fence and enter through the back of the Hyatt Regency hotel to avoid the gathered protesters out in front.
Trump re-election campaign official and California Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon said the campaign was not going to publicize where the president was going next for security reasons, and attendees were told to meet at offsite locations and be shuttled to the event.
“President Trump as candidate Trump was not made very welcome by Bay Area law enforcement or mayors,” said Dhillon. “As you know I’m suing the city of San Jose for the last event that the president – then candidate – came to have there in 2016. So those are the reasons for security. I have seen some chatter about Antifa groups trying to find the location so this is a real threat.”
As word of the location of President Trump’s fundraiser leaked out, protesters set up alongside Alpine Road, complete with the massive Baby Trump balloon which organizers brought up from San Diego.
They were within shouting distance of the motorcade when it came up the road.
“Impeach! Impeach!” chanted the crowd of about 100 people.
— Len Ramirez (@lenKPIX) September 17, 2019
Vara Ramakrishnan, a protest organizer with Vigil for Democracy, said she was expecting more than 200 protesters to gather at Lincoln Park in Los Altos, where a Trump chicken balloon would be on display. She ridiculed Trump for not disclosing his destination.
“Why does a president – if he’s so popular, if he’s so beloved as he tweets all the time – why does he need to hide where he’s going?” said Ramakrishnan. “Only a chicken Trump would hide.”
Protesters told KPIX that they hoped the president saw both chicken balloon and the baby Trump balloon on display as they called him out for not disclosing details of his trip here.
Ramakrishnan told KPIX the protesters wanted to send President Trump a message.
“To show him he’s not welcome in California. It’s to show him that we are a diverse state, we believe in love, we don’t believe in hate,” said Ramakrishnan. “He’s a hate monger. He’s here to take the money of people who are too foolish to realize what he is.”
As Trump met with supporters, raising an estimated $15 million for his campaign, police closed down Alpine Road and ramps leading to and from I-280.
One local hairdresser said her clients could not make their appointments, so she came out and waited for it to be over.
“I’ve missed three appointments, so Mr. Trump owes me $160,” she said.
When the President’s motorcade returned to Moffett Field, there were a few protesters and supporters on hand.
“It’s really nice. It’s not every day you get an opportunity to be this close to the President of the United States,” said Trump supporter Lorrie Dixon.
Randolph Knackstedt had another take.
“I just came out to see one of the worst disasters we have ever had in the Presidency,” said Knackstedt.
As Mr. Trump boarded Air Force One, he waved to someone on the side, but literally didn’t look back.
His supporters here wish he would visit more often.
“There’s a lot of Trump supporters here. I think people are just afraid to say anything. They’re afraid that they might lose their jobs,” said Trump backer Renee Vaughn.