SAN DIEGO (CNS) - President Barack Obama brought his re-election effort to Southern California Monday, tapping into some deep pockets at a La Jolla fundraiser to pad his campaign war chest and greeting dignitaries, Marines and their families at MCAS Miramar.
"This is going to be a tough election because the economy is tough and people are frustrated," Obama told about 150 supporters at a private event at the La Jolla home of Mason and Elizabeth Phelps. "... There is one vision that says we will pull back and abandon our commitment to the aged and the vulnerable. ... A vision where we're destined to have a smaller vision of what we can do together.
"The other is a big, ambitious, bold, optimistic of America where we are investing in the future, in our people, where we make the tough decisions to be competitive in the 21st Century," he said.
The president arrived at MCAS Miramar aboard Air Force One just after 1:30 p.m. following an event in the San Francisco Bay Area and rode in a motorcade to the fundraising event.
Mayor Jerry Sanders and Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, greeted Obama after he stepped down the stairs from the aircraft, and the three spoke for about three minutes.
Since his flight arrived several minutes early, the president jogged over to about 40 onlookers -- Marines and their families -- to offer greetings and shake hands. At one point, he picked up an infant dressed in a blue outfit and posed for a photograph.
San Diego resident Adrienne Pacheco said it "was an honor" to exchange pleasantries with the president, but forgot what was said.
"I can't remember -- it's just a blur," Pacheco said. "I think he said 'thanks for coming."'
Elizabeth McKinnis of San Diego said she welcomed the president to San Diego, and he responded, "It's a nice place to be."
Democrats in the audience wanted Obama to be stronger when dealing with Republicans, and he responded that no one should "mistake his good manners," Filner said.
Obama returned to the Marine air base not quite three hours later.
In Los Angeles, supporters who shelled out $250 for a ticket -- or much more for a photo opportunity with the president -- will hear Obama at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.
His fundraising swing will then move to the Fig & Olive restaurant on trendy Melrose Place. Tickets for the dinner cost $17,900 per person, or $35,800 per couple, with proceeds going to the Obama Victory Fund.
Obama is scheduled to spend Monday night in Los Angeles and leave Los Angeles International Airport for Denver at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Obama was last in Southern California in April, when he took part in three fundraisers during a roughly 18 1/2-hour visit benefiting his re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
In his previous campaign, he came to San Diego for a fundraiser at the Birch Aquarium in February 2007, spoke at the California Democratic Convention in April 2007 and to the National Council of La Raza annual conference in July 2008.