Hundreds of protesters lined streets in Corona del Mar early today to watch President Barack Obama arrive at a breakfast fundraiser where 200 supporters helped raise more than $1 million for his campaign.
The presidential motorcade entered CDM via Morning Canyon Road just after 9 a.m., bypassing demonstrators who said they thought the president was avoiding them. The exclusive event was held at the home of Jeff and Nancy Stack. Tickets started at $2,500 and ranged from a $10,000-per-person photo reception to a $35,800-per-person breakfast. Wylie Aitken, an attorney and event co-host, said in total the event raised $1.4 million for Obama's campaign.
"He received a warm response. It was a great turnout," Aitken said. "A lot of money was raised for a breakfast fundraiser."
The economy, small businesses and global warming were among the items Obama discussed briefly over breakfast today.
"He said global warming is an international issue,'' Aitken told City News Service. "We can lead, but we can't solve it if they don't solve it in China or Korea, he said. We have to lead by example."
Robert Barelles did not attend the fundraiser. Instead he stood along East Coast Highway as Obama rolled into town. He said he has respect for the presidency, but felt the ticket prices were outrageous.
"It's ridiculous," Barelles said. "Some people can't even afford fast food and they are asking others to contribute thousands to his campaign. It doesn't make sense."
As the morning wore on, the crowd turned more hostile, with screaming matches erupting among the approximately 300 people, fans and foes alike, who gathered on street corners in the village, including Poppy Avenue and Hazel Drive. While some yelled, "Four more years!," others chanted, "Nobama! Nobama!"
Irvin resident Alice Apkarian was one of the first Obama supporters to arrive in CDM early Thursday.
"I came here to let everyone know that Orange County is very complex, and we are not just a monolithic Republican area," Apkarian said.
Laura Dietz, who helped organize today's anti-Obama protesters, said she was on East Coast Highway to show her displeasure with Obama.
"I live in the next neighborhood over and I when I heard he was coming I knew I had to help represent this precinct," Dietz said. "I hope other citizens will do the same when Obama gets to their town."
Kathy Lowe, spokeswoman for the Newport Beach Police Department, says overall it was a calm demonstration between the supporters and protesters.
"Everything seemed to be going very smooth," Lowe said. "The protesters did their thing and we really didn't have anything happen."
The trip was Obama's second to Orange County as president. He conducted a "town hall" style meeting at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa on March 18, 2009.
This was Obama's ninth visit to the Los Angeles area since taking office, the sixth solely for political fundraising. Obama has spoken at political fundraisers during all but his first visit to Southern California as president.
Obama Wednesday began his 16-hour visit by speaking at two campaign fundraisers at the Holmby Hills estate of soap opera producer Bradley Bell Wednesday night, outlining why he believes he should be re-elected.
Obama first told 1,000 people, most of whom paid $500 to hear him speak and an outdoor concert by the alternative-rock band Foo Fighters, that "we're starting to see the economy rebound."
A $38,500 per person dinner followed, which was attended by approximately 80 people, including actors George Clooney and Jim Belushi, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Fox.
Obama cited falling unemployment, passage of health care legislation, the end of U.S. involvement in the Iraq War and the ending the ban on gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces as reasons he should be re- elected.