REDWOOD CITY - President Barack Obama, back in donor-rich California to raise money for his re-election campaign tonight, told supporters in the Bay Area that the economy has improved during his first term but that he still has "a lot more to do."
"We're not satisfied," the Democratic president told about 1,100 supporters at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City.
The event, for which tickets started at $250, followed a $35,800-per-plate dinner at the Atherton home of Levi Strauss heir Doug Goldman, capping a day of fundraising in Colorado and California.
Obama told a cheering crowd in Redwood City that he expects the campaign to be "tougher than the last one."
In heavily-Democratic California, Obama leads Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, by 11 points among likely voters, 50 percent to 39 percent, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released tonight. The state is unlikely to be contested in the November election, but both Obama and Romney are doing significant fundraising here.
"It is good to be back in California," Obama said, less than two weeks after his multimillion dollar fundraiser at actor George Clooney's Los Angeles house.
Obama said the nation's economic crisis "didn't happen overnight, and it's not going to be solved overnight."
He said, "We've got more work to do. We know that."
The crowd cheered when Obama mentioned his support for gay marriage, defending his vision as one for all people, "no matter who you love."
About half of likely California voters say Obama's recent announcement that he supports gay marriage has had no effect on their view of him, according to the Public Policy Institute of California poll. One quarter of likely voters say it makes them think more favorably of the president, and one quarter say it makes them think less favorably of him.
"It is nice to have someone take a stand," said Megan Maxwell-Bey, who came with her husband and two young daughters to watch the protesters and cheer Obama from outside the fundraiser.
Maxwell-Bey and her husband, Anthony Bey, said they voted for Obama in 2008 and will vote for him again. The economy is improving they said.
A small crowd of protesters demonstrated outside the theater, including members of the Raging Grannies, a progressive group.
"Tax, tax, tax the rich, make them pay their share," they sang.
Many members of the group voted for Obama in 2008, and they will vote for him again this year, said Ellyn O'Toole, 65, of San Mateo.
But the retired nurse is concerned about the influence of money in politics and about Social Security and health care.
"We actually support Obama," she said, "but we want to move him in a more progressive direction."