Obama Talks Climate Change at Calif. Fundraisers

Arlette Saenz

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In the first fundraisers he's attended since winning re-election, President Obama discussed climate change with California donors while opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline protested outside of one of the events.

"Despite a very aggressive agenda on the other side to block action, we've been able to double fuel efficiency standards on cars. We've been able to take mercury out of our air. We have been able to reduce carbon emissions in this country and have made not only this a healthier place to live, but have also begun to address in a serious way one of the biggest challenges of our time, and that is the challenge of climate change," the president said at the first of two San Francisco fundraisers Wednesday night.

"We've got more work to do in terms of dealing with climate change and making sure that we've got an economy that is energy-efficient, that is productive, that is cutting-edge, and thinks about not just the energy sources of the past, but also the energy promise of the future," he added.

While the president discussed climate change at both fundraisers, he did not specifically cite the Keystone XL pipeline, which drew opposition from protesters Wednesday evening as the administration is set to determine the project's fate in the coming months.

One hundred people paid between $5,000 and $34,200 a head to attend the first fundraiser, a cocktail reception at the home of hedge fund billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer, an ardent opponent of the Keystone pipeline, and his wife Kat Taylor.

Environmental protesters gathered outside the second fundraiser at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty, where 75 attendees paid $32,400 per person to attend a dinner with the president. Protesters were spotted outside the event waving anti-Keystone XL pipeline signs and chanting phrases such as "What do we want from our president? No pipeline for the one percent!" and "When I say pipeline, you say kill! Pipeline! Kill," according to pool reports.

The two fundraisers benefited the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and were the first of eight events the president has committed to attending on behalf of the DCCC in 2013. Obama will attend two fundraisers today for the Democratic National Committee in Atherton, Calif.

The president heaped praise on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, who the president declared "is going to be once again the Speaker of the House." He stressed that in order to find solutions to issues like climate change, donors must extend their support to Democratic leaders like Pelosi.

"I also want to make sure that you are paying attention to what can we do to support the prospect of Nancy Pelosi being Speaker once again," he said. "If we do that, then I'm confident that not only can we deliver on this profound issue of climate change, not only can we make sure that clean energy is the norm here in America, but I also think that we can give America that sense of confidence and forward movement that's always been our hallmark that characterizes who we are."

While he praised the work of Democratic leaders in Congress, the president expressed his desire to work with Republicans on issues like gun control, immigration, and the budget.

"My intention here is to try to get as much done with the Republican Party over the next two years as I can, because we can't have perpetual campaigns," the president said.

But as he braces for a legislative fight with Republicans, Obama reflected upon how his first four years as president prepared him for the tasks at hand in his second term.

"I've got some nicks and bruises to prove that I've been to this rodeo before," he said at the second fundraiser of the night.