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Obama continues fund-raising push in L.A.

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Mon September 26, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Obama makes three stops in California on Monday
  • NEW: An actor lauds him for the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal
  • NEW: Obama tells supporters that "act two is not out of reach"
  • The presidents ends his West Coast swing Tuesday in Colorado

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama spent part of Monday hobnobbing with celebrities and other power-brokers in Southern California, continuing a West Coast trip that includes town-hall events, a meeting with Marines and fund-raisers for his re-election campaign.

It was not all fund-raising, though, as the president started his day in Northern California. That included a morning stop in Mountain View for a forum at the Computer History Museum.

Obama then jetted to San Diego, where he landed at the Marine Air Corps Station in Miramar. Then it was off again, this time to Los Angeles.

His first event there was at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, where 1,000 attendees spent $250 each for a speech and concert.

"Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson introduced the president, lauding him especially for the recent repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Gay men and lesbians now can serve openly in the U.S. military, a development that Ferguson called "the signature civil rights accomplishment of our time."

Obama then took the stage, imploring his supporters to rally behind his policies and his campaign and keep the hope they had in 2008 alive.

"When we remind ourselves that America and its idea is not a given, it's something that we have to fight for," he said. "Act two is something that's not out of reach. If you and I can work together, we can make it happen."

The president's next stop Monday night was scheduled to be the Fig and Olive, a restaurant on Los Angeles' trendy Melrose Place, for a private fund-raiser co-hosted by investment manager John Emerson, consultant Andy Spahn, Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon, a Democrat with knowledge of the event told CNN. The campaign official said the cost to attend was $17,900 per person.

By Sunday evening, that dinner had already brought in $1.5 million for the Obama campaign in advance of the event, according to a second Democrat familiar with the event.

These fund-raisers follow similar events Sunday in Washington state. Obama took the stage at Seattle's Paramount Theatre after being introduced by basketball hall of famers Lenny Wilkens and Bill Russell, the latter urging the crowd that "as Americans, we must support our president."

Wearing a tie and button-down shirt with his sleeves rolled up, the president began by referring to the "once-in-a-lifetime economic crisis" facing the nation, saying his administration knew "it was going to take years" to rebuild.

The fundamental choice now, he argued, was to go forward with his and fellow Democrats' plans or use the "old worn-out ideas that were tried in the last decade."

Then, as he has repeatedly since proposing it about two weeks ago, Obama touted the America Jobs Act as key to bolstering the economy by helping small businesses, boosting public education, improving infrastructure and other components.

He reiterated his support for tax reform that would pay for the bill, in part, by having wealthier Americans and profitable large corporations pay more in taxes. He added that he felt it is the government's responsibility to act immediately, and not wait for voters' decisions in November 2012 to act.

"It's time for us to meet our responsibility for each other right now," the president said. "(Citizens) don't have the luxury of us squabbling for another 14 months."

The president's job approval numbers remain low, just as the 2012 campaign is starting to heat up.

A USA Today/Gallup poll released last Wednesday -- based on a survey of 1,004 adults, and with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points -- found that 53% of the respondents blamed Obama a great deal or moderate amount for the continued economic sluggishness.

The previous week, a CNN/ORC International poll showed Obama had a disapproval rating of 55%, the highest of his presidency, mirroring other national polling from Gallup and NBC/Wall Street Journal.

His current West Coast swing serves multiple purposes, from raising money for what promises to be a bruising campaign, to continuing his effort to keep pressure on Congress to support his initiatives.

After his California visits, Obama will end his tour Tuesday in the swing state of Colorado with a speech at Denver's Abraham Lincoln High School.

CNN's Lesa Jansen and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.

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