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Obama departs Los Angeles after whirlwind 21 1/2-hour visit

obama
President Obama’s motorcade begins to leave Santa Monica Airport on Thursday afternoon.

President Barack Obama wrapped up a planned 21 1/2-hour visit to Los Angeles today by being interviewed by comedian Marc Maron in the garage of his Highland Park home for his podcast “WTF with Marc Maron.”

“We think this is an opportunity to have an extended candid conversation, not necessarily about news of the day items, but I think this is going to be much more about areas of the president’s life that don’t always get reported in the news,” principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday en route to Los Angeles.

The podcast is scheduled to be uploaded Monday.

The interview was the latest is a series of interviews Obama has granted to unconventional sources, following the online talk show “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis” and the YouTube personality GloZell.

Obama’s visit caused the usual traffic nightmares for Southland residents, particularly in West Los Angeles. The president spent the night in Beverly Hills then was taken by motorcade to Santa Monica Airport, where he boarded a helicopter that carried him to a landing zone near the Rose Bowl. He was then driven to Maron’s home.

While being driven to Santa Monica Airport, a series of heavily traveled streets were closed down during the morning rush hour, leaving thousands of motorists stuck in gridlocked traffic.

Some passengers at Los Angeles International Airport, meanwhile, complained via social media that their flights were being held on the ground while awaiting Obama’s departure.

After taping the podcast, Obama was flown by helicopter to LAX, where Air Force One departed shortly before noon. The president headed for the San Francisco area, where he will speak at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The president is scheduled to Southern California on Saturday, spending the night in the Coachella Valley, where he generally plays golf when he visits. Temperatures in the Coachella Valley this weekend are expected to be in the 100s.

Obama spoke at a pair of DNC fundraisers in the Los Angeles area Thursday. In the lone event open to the news media, Obama told supporters he hoped they would leave with the sense that completing “the unfinished business we’ve got… depends on you.”

“If we want the change we believe in, then we’re going to have to work harder than ever in our own communities and in our own places of worship and in our own workplaces and reflect those values and ideals and then push this society and ultimately push Congress in the direction of change,” Obama told a crowd of approximately 250 at the home of filmmaker Tyler Perry near Beverly Hills.

Obama also used the 23-minute speech to recount his accomplishments as president — including the improved economy; increased production of wind and solar power; rising high school graduation rates; fewer people without health insurance; and cutting the budget deficit.

“There’s almost no measure by which one could argue that we have not made significant progress over these last 6 1/2 years,” Obama told the crowd, which included “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner; series co-star January Jones; Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the NBA; and former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

“But we’ve got so much work to do. There’s so much that’s left undone. We still live in a country in which the idea of equal opportunity is not felt, is not experienced, is not lived for too many young people.”

Obama went on to call for “reforming our criminal justice system in a way that we are not incarcerating nonviolent offenders in ways that renders them incapable of getting a job” after they are released; “immigration reform” that would “bring millions of people out of the shadows”; increased spending on research and making college more affordable.

Tickets for the fundraiser were priced from $2,500 to attend a reception to $33,400, the maximum allowable donation to a national party committee, which included admission to the reception, where Obama spoke, and dinner and a photo with the president.    Tickets for the dinner were priced at $20,000 per couple. The price to attend the reception and have a photo taken with Obama was $10,000, according to an invitation obtained by City News Service.

Obama earlier attended another DNC fundraiser — at the Pacific Palisades home of television producer Chuck Lorre, which was closed to reporters. Approximately 30 supporters paid up to $33,400 to attend, according to the White House.

Obama arrived at Los Angeles International Airport around 2:20 p.m. Thursday aboard Air Force One, beginning a visit scheduled to last less than 24 hours.

After a short helicopter trip to Santa Monica Airport, Obama was taken by motorcade to Pacific Palisades. The Santa Monica (10) and San Diego (405) freeways were both closed in West Los Angeles to accommodate the lengthy motorcade — bringing traffic to a standstill not only on the freeways but on surrounding streets.

Coincidentally, the front-runner in the race to succeed Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was also in the Southland Thursday; she came for a fundraiser at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.    Ninio Fetalvo, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said Obama and Clinton should be focusing on the “concerns of everyday Americans in the Golden State” instead of “causing multiple days of traffic jams for fundraising with celebrities and out-of-touch elitists.”

The visit was Obama’s 22nd to Los Angeles and Orange counties as president.

Obama has attended fundraisers during 19 of his visits to Los Angeles and Orange counties as president, attending 34 fundraisers in Los Angeles County on those trips, occasionally attending multiple fundraisers during the same visit.

Through the seventh years of their administrations, Bill Clinton conducted 42 fundraisers in the region, George W. Bush nine and Ronald Reagan eight, according to research by Brendan J. Doherty, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy, for his book “The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign.”

 

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