President Barack Obama will conclude a two-day Southland visit today with an appearance at a breakfast campaign fundraiser in View Park, one of the nation's wealthiest predominately black enclaves.
The breakfast will be held at the home of developer Charles Quarles and his wife JoAnn. Tickets start at $2,500 and 300 people are expected. Quarles is the founder and president of The Bedford Group, which bills itself as one of the leading real estate development firms serving the needs of urban communities throughout the Greater Los Angeles area.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the formal name of his re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.
The breakfast will be Obama's 153rd fundraiser since announcing his bid for re-election on April 4, 2011, according to the Republican National Committee. George W. Bush had attended 79 fundraisers for his re-election campaign by this time in 2004, according to CBS.
The trip -- roughly 19 hours -- is Obama's 11th to the Los Angeles area since taking office, the eighth solely for political fundraising. He has spoken at political fundraisers during all but his first visit to Southern California as president.
Following the breakfast, Obama will head to Los Angeles International Airport to board Air Force One, which will take him to Las Vegas, where he will speak at the University of Nevada Las Vegas about college affordability.
Obama began his Southland visit with two campaign fundraisers in Beverly Hills, where he spoke to mostly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender audiences and discussed his efforts on behalf of their community.
Obama told a crowd of approximately 600 at the LGBT Leadership Council Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel about the day he signed the law repealing the ``Don't ask, don't tell'' policy, which banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces.
``What was most moving was not just those in active service who where there in that auditorium to witness that history made,'' Obama said. ``It wasn't just the extraordinary warmth that people expressed towards Adm. (Michael) Mullen, who I think showed extraordinary courage in helping to guide the Pentagon to the right place on that issue.
``But it was also seeing all these veterans, some of them 60, 65, serving in Vietnam, some in the Korean War, who were there -- and thinking about all those years in which the wholeness of their life had not been fully acknowledged, that they had to live divided from themselves.
``And to see the tears streaming down the faces of some of them -- that's as good as it gets when you're President of the United States,'' Obama said, adding that ``the fight for equality and justice on behalf of the LGBT community is just part of a broader fight on behalf of all Americans.''
Obama was introduced by Dr. Vito Imbasciani, a urological surgeon who has served in the Army National Guard for 26 years, hiding the fact he is gay.
``This is a president who has challenged every one of us to expand our imagination of the possible,'' Imbasciani said. ``As he has made clear, we are not a nation that says, `Don't ask, don't tell.' We are a nation that says, `Out of many, we are one.''
Tickets began at $1,250 per person. The crowd included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Attorney General Kamala Harris, Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and ``NCIS'' cast member Pauley Perrette.
Obama then headed by motorcade to the Beverly Hills home of Ryan Murphy, a co-creator of the Fox musical comedy-drama, and his fiancé, photographer David Miller for a $25,000 per person dinner. The president spoke to the approximately 70 guests, including actresses Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon, for 12 minutes, then took questions.