America has bounced back from the edge of economic oblivion but still has a long way to go toward restoring the American dream, President Obama told enthusiastic supporters and contributors at a pair of Silicon Valley fundraisers Wednesday night.
"I'm here because your country needs your help," he said at a rally in Redwood City's Fox Theatre. "Four years ago we came together ... because we want to reclaim the basic bargain that built the most solid middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth."
The American dream, he said, means everyone should have an equal chance to get a good education and prosper, "no matter who you look like ... no matter who you love."
Obama attacked his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney,
for proposing tax cuts that would be paid for by ordinary Americans, as well as further diminishment of institutions such as Social Security and Medicare.
"On issue after issue, these guys want to go backward," the president said of the Republican opposition.
The streets outside the theater were filled mostly with supporters such as Joey Vlazny, who was with his family and friends holding "Obama/Biden 08" signs. But others were no fans of the president.
Charles Cagnon held a sign reading, "Hope you like the Change," and wore a giant foam finger reading, "Nobama."
"Basically, I think Obama has diminished our freedoms economically" and politically, Cagnon said.
"He won't see" the sign, chimed in Susan Hart. "He's
a totalitarian. He doesn't want information. Trust me."
Obama arrived in the Bay Area for his latest fundraising swing at 6:18 p.m., when Air Force One touched down at Moffett Field in Mountain View. Greeting him were Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Sunnyvale Mayor Tony Spitaleri; Mountain View Mayor Mike Kasperzak; Simon "Pete" Worden, director of the NASA Ames Research Center; and Col. Steven Butow, commander of the 129th Rescue Wing of the California Air National Guard.
The president shook hands with a few invited guests along a rope line before the motorcade departed for the Atherton home of Doug Goldman -- a software company founder who is an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune -- and his wife, Lisa.
"We almost got a chance to shake his hand," said Stacy Griffiths, holding her sleeping 14-month-old baby, Simon, in her arms, while her two other children, Chloe and RJ, played behind her.
"For them, it was close enough," Griffiths said.
After the president's motorcade departed, a crowd of about 25 onlookers, not invited to the event, peered around a chain-link fence to get a glimpse of Air Force One.
"It's always special to see an awesome plane come land here," said Jessica Marquez, who works in human-factors engineering at NASA Ames.
The president's plane touched down next to the nearly skeletal Hangar One, which the Navy has been dismantling over the past few months because its PCB- and asbestos-laden skin has been leaking chemicals into the soil.
Among the guests at the Atherton fundraiser were Jan Brandt, vice chairwoman emeritus of AOL; Dennis Troper, Google product management director; Tim Westergren, Pandora Media founder; and Susan Wojcicki, Google senior vice president. The cost was $35,800 a plate.
Doug Goldman told Obama that his Atherton home has been in his family since 1906. He said he and his wife tried to welcome the Hawaii-born Obama with a Hawaiian decoration theme: floral arrangements, tablecloths, potted palms, hurricane lanterns and leis.
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