Campaign 2012: Obama's Opening Salvo at California Fundraisers

President sets tone for second term during campaign trip to California.

ByABC News
April 22, 2011, 12:48 PM

April 22, 2011 -- By attacking critics from the right, and answering disgruntled supporters on the left, President Obama has laid out his opening statement for a second term during his first campaign trip out west for the 2012 election.

Rubbing shoulders with Hollywood stars, and Internet titans, the President raised millions of dollars from six California fundraisers in two days. He delivered a message that he's done a lot, has a lot more to do, and needs another term to accomplish it.

Mr. Obama sought to reconnect with large donors, speaking more casually about his efforts during his first two-plus years in office. At a Los Angeles restaurant Thursday night, he worked some of Hollywood's elite (George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, and Steven Spielberg among them).

While praising their support in 2008 -- "a lot of you got involved at a time when the prospect of electing a Barack Hussein Obama to the Oval Office was slim" -- Mr. Obama took on the so-called "birther" movement now trumpeted by Donald Trump. "None of you asked for my birth certificate. It was a complete leap of faith," the President told his Hollywood supporters.

But Mr. Obama acknowledged there is plenty of frustration among his supporters. "You're saying, oh, Obama -- why is he compromising with the Republicans?" he said.

With actor George Clooney sitting in front of him, he joked about himself: "Golly, if he was just as good a communicator as George Clooney -- then I'm sure the American people would understand exactly what needs to be done."

But while acknowledging he too is frustrated, The President reminded supporters that he believes he's accomplished a lot. "We've pulled this economy out of a recession. We've stabilized the financial system. We've passed historic health care legislation to make sure 30 million people aren't going to go without coverage," which drew applause.

He reminded his audience he repealed the military policy of "don't ask, don't tell," promoted equal pay for equal work, and placed a second woman on the Supreme Court.

The President told a larger crowd at Sony studios that there is "a lot more work to do," on jobs, energy policy and immigration. He said he is "fixing" the economy, but needs another term to finish the job.

These fundraisers allow supporters to get an up-close-and-personal look at the President. "You guys can poke me and prod me -- you know, lift the hood and kick the tires -- and give me what I'm sure will be wonderful advice," he told one group in Los Angeles.

Along with a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, the President also held three fundraisers in the California Bay area, home to numerous Internet entrepreneurs. At home of one mogul on San Francisco's Nob Hill, the president tried to answer those from the left who expected more. "We knew this wouldn't be easy. We knew that on a journey like this there were going to be setbacks. There were going to be detours.''

The President suggested to his supporters that it will be no cakewalk to a second term and reminded them his first election was not easy. "There's a lot of revisionist history going on now that, 'Boy, his campaign was so smooth.' It didn't feel that way at the time. I mean, it was hard," he said.

The Obama campaign realizes it will not be able to repeat its 2008 campaign. It will have to find another path to victory. "Just remember the campaign in 2008," he said at one Hollywood gathering. "It wasn't about big crowds and nice posters. And it wasn't even about me. It was about commitments we made to each other as Americans, about who we are and what we care about."

The trip was lucrative for Mr. Obama's war chest. He raised millions of dollars in San Francisco and Los Angeles, at least $2 million in Los Angeles alone.