President Barack Obama leaves Washington today for a three day fund raising trip to the West Coast -- with White House officials noting that he’ll shorten his trip if his presence is required back at the White House.
The trip to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles -- and five fundraisers -- comes days after Obama was criticized for not scrapping a trip to Delaware and New York in the wake of the downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended Obama’s trip Monday and a senior administration official told reporters that Obama will be briefed by his national security team on the road and continue to make calls to world leaders. He’ll return “if something changes” and he’s needed back at the White House, the official said.
Republicans last week blasted Obama’s decision to stick to his fund raising schedule with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. telling Fox News that Obama was “what we used to call in the military A-W-O-L. ... There's a direct lost of American lives here and the president goes to a fundraiser? Help me out.”
But White House officials said they would not let Republicans -- “who criticize the president for getting out of bed in the morning” -- to dictate his schedule.
“If we had pulled the whole trip down,” the official said, critics would say “it looked panicky, unsure.”
“That is their job, to criticize the president,” the official said, name checking McCain. “It’s how they end up on Sunday shows, cause they know they’re never held to account for being wrong.”
The official said Obama would remain at the White House if there was something to be done that could only occur from the White House, noting that Obama has canceled trips in the past: to engage in negotiations with Congress, over the budget and to avoid a government shutdown.
Obama heads first to Seattle where he’ll attend fund raisers for the Democratic National Committee and the Senate Majority PAC. He’ll spend the night in San Francisco, and deliver remarks at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser on Wednesday before leaving for Los Angeles where he’ll attend another DNC event and remain overnight.
Obama’s San Francisco fundraising luncheon will be held at the Los Altos Hills home of real estate mogul George Marcus, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Tickets for the event were $10,000 a person, “including a photo opportunity and lunch, or $32,400 a couple, including a VIP photo opportunity and lunch,” the News said. Attendees are expected to include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.; and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.
Republicans charge the fundraiser will benefit “vulnerable California Democrats” including Reps. Ami Bera, Scott Peters, Julia Brownley, Raul Ruiz, and Lois Capps.
“California voters deserve better representatives who won’t take their marching orders from Nancy Pelosi and Washington Democrats,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, a National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman.
Obama will deliver remarks on the economy at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College on Thursday and wrap up the trip with a DNC fundraiser in the Los Angeles area.