Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times is the pool reporter with the president in Exposition Park. Here's the first pool report, via the White House press office.
About 1,000 Democratic supporters sipped wine and nibbling on passed hors d'oeuvres in the airy atrium of an elementary school located at the California Science Center, awaiting the arrival of President Barack Obama at a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and the DNC.
When the helicopter ferrying Obama from LAX to Exposition Park roared overhead, the crowd roared. They had contributed between $100 and $2,500 to attend the reception, with the least expensive tickets earmarked for young party activists.
President Obama arrived to the main reception shortly after 6 p.m. and spoke for about 25 minutes.
The initial minutes of his speech were interrupted by a woman screaming about why he hasn’t moved to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“It’s time for equality for all Americans,” she said.
Obama repeatedly told her that he and Boxer agreed with her.
“But let me say this, when you’ve got an ally like Barbara Boxer and you’ve got an ally like me who are standing for same thing then you don’t know exactly why you’ve got to holler because we already hear you,” he responded. “It would have made more sense to holler that at the people who oppose it.”
Obama went on to speak about how his administration along with Congress had helped pull the economy back from the brink.
“It would have been nice if we had a little more help from other side of the aisle sometimes. I’d say any help. Just a smidgen of help,” he said. “I’ve been disappointed sometimes that smidgen hasn’t been more forthcoming. You would have expected Republican leaders would have been willing to help out cleaning up after this mess since they had more than a little to do with creating it. We all have stake in cleaning it up. We’re all, after all, Americans.”
“Yet after driving our economy into a ditch, they decided to stand by the side of the road and watch us while we pulled it out of the ditch. They asked us, why haven’t you pulled it out faster? I notice there’s a little scratch right there on the fender, why haven’t you done something about that?”
“That’s their prerogative, California,” Obama said. “That’s also what elections are for.”
As the election grows closer, he urged them to tell their friends and neighbors about the benefits they will see from the Democrats’ work over the past year, such as children with pre-existing conditions being able to obtain health insurance, or 25 different tax cuts for families and business.
“Here in California, 98% of working families are getting a tax cut,” he said. “So that’s what we we’re for. That’s what the other side was against.”
Earlier, as soul singer India Arie entertained the crowd, Obama and Boxer addressed a VIP reception with more direct political remarks. Pool entered as Boxer was mid-remarks.
“We've got three opponents in this race and they've been beating up on me every single day,” she said, never criticizing her GOP rivals by name. “You know it.”
Boxer called for Democrats to be as energetic and enthusiastic as the Tea Party supporters.
“Speaking of the Tea Party people, I think it’s great that they are active and excited and ready to go,” she said. “My question to you is are you ready to go toe-to-toe with them, cup by cup by cup? I am.”
As she introduced Obama, she noted that new presidents always inherit problems from their predecessors, but that Obama had an especially heavy burden, “two wars put on the credit card, tax cuts to the wealthy put on the credit card, deficit and debt, bleeding of jobs, 700,000 a month. All this was on his back. And then we were attacked by pirates! What more could happen?”
“This president, he's so cool under fire, under personal attack, the angry calls to walk away from change,” Boxer said. “He knows what makes this country great and won't turn back.”
Obama, who was joined onstage by DNC chair Tim Kaine, said that while millions of Americans are still feeling economic pain, there are signs that the situation is improving, which he attributed to actions taken by the White House and Congress.
“We made a series of decisions that were not always popular but were right to do,” he said. “Nobody is tougher and nobody is more determined to do the right thing even in the face of intense opposition than Barbara Boxer.”
Noting her support for clean energy jobs, the environment and Hybrid cars, Obama called Boxer “a subcompact model that is an inexhaustible source of energy.”
He said she is vulnerable because of the positions she staked, and he urged the attendees to talk to their friends and neighbors about the benefits from their work, such healthcare reform legislation, to “write big checks” and to work hard for her. He said her assistance was vitals for other needs that will be addressed, such as financial regulatory reform, immigration reform and improving the economy.
“I don't want any of you taking this for granted,” he said. “This is where the rubber hits the road and unless Barbara gets the help from all of you ... She might not win this thing.”
“You are going to need somebody who's as passionate, as caring, as committed and as tough as the senator you’ve got right here, right now,” he said. “So I don't want any of you taking this for granted … This is where the rubber hits the road and unless Barbara gets the help that she needs from all of you and that means digging deep reaching out to your friends and your neighbors and carrying that message forward. Unless she’s got that support, she might not win this thing.”
Among the guests spotted in the security line: former Gov. Gray Davis, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo (who’s running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general) and U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (who won a nasty floor fight to keep her party endorsement at the state party’s convention over the weekend). Other guests reportedly in attendance: Attn. Gen. Jerry Brown, who’s running for governor, Mayor Antonio Villarragiosa, labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and others.
Pool is holding at Natural History Museum, where an intimate dinner (for $35,200/couple) is taking place. As we walked in, attendees were mingling in the shadow of a gigantic dinosaur skeleton.