Obama: Country facing economic, political crisis

Associated Press
President Barack Obama stops for a snack at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 24, 2011. Obama, who was joined by Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., is on a three-day trip to the West Coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Testing a re-election theme, President Barack Obama is telling donors during a fundraising rich tour of three western states that the country is suffering from an economic crisis and from a political crisis. "People are crying out for action," he says.

Pointing to elements of his $447 billion jobs plan rejected by Republican lawmakers, Obama said they would likely linger as campaign issues in 2012.

"This is the fight that we're going to have right now, and I suspect this is the fight that we're going to have to have over the next year," Obama told about 240 donors at a fundraising event Monday at the Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas. "The Republicans in Congress and the Republican candidates for president have made their agenda very clear."

In Los Angeles on Monday evening, Obama mingled with Hollywood's royalty. At an intimate dinner with top donors in the Hancock Park home of producer James Lassiter, Obama chatted with movie star Will Smith and former Los Angeles Lakers standout Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

"Sometimes I think people forget how much has gotten done," Obama said, and he urged his supporters to rally once again, at the same time joking, as he often does, that he is older and grayer now. "This election won't be as sexy as the first one."

The Las Vegas fundraiser attracted about 240 people who paid from $1,000 to $35,800 toward Obama's re-election campaign and to the Democratic National Committee. The bigger donors met the president personally.

The dinner at the Lassiter home was cozier, with fewer than 40 donors who paid $35,800 each. Among the sponsors were Troy Carter, the manager of Grammy award winner Lady Gaga. The singer herself was a guest at a fundraiser last month at the Atherton, Calif., home of Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Obama was to raise money at the home of movie stars Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, an event aimed at Latino donors that was also expected to feature actress Eva Longoria and mayors Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and Julian Castro of San Antonio.

While in Las Vegas, Obama spelled out a plan to help homeowners refinance their homes even if their home values had dropped dramatically below what they owed on their mortgages. Obama ventured into a working class development in the Las Vegas suburbs that benefitted from a community revitalization program like one he is pushing Congress to approve now.

But the president displayed campaign-style vigor, wading into the neighborhood crowd to shake hands and even lift a baby. His handlers reminded him it was time to leave, but Obama strode to yet another group of residents for one last hand shake, autograph and photograph.

Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Obama headed to a diverse neighborhood near Lassiter's home south of Hollywood and stopped at Roscoe's, a chicken restaurant, where he greeted customers and ordered chicken wings for his staff.

Most of his remaining time during this three-day swing through Nevada, California and Colorado is being spent raising money. On Tuesday he will tape an appearance on "The Tonight show with Jay Leno," his second as president and fourth appearance overall. He will also attend fundraisers in San Francisco and Denver.

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