HANCOCK PARK (CBSLA.com/AP) — President Barack Obama arrived in the Southland on Wednesday to fund-raise at an event organized by a high-profile Hollywood producer.
Obama was attending a Democratic National Committee event for about 450 donors at the Hancock Park home of Shonda Rhimes, the producer of the Washington-based drama "Scandal." Kerry Washington, who plays the lead role on the show, is among the hosts. Tickets start at $1,000. For $10,000, couples can get a photo with the president. Staying for dinner runs $20,000 per couple.
With his travels coinciding with crises abroad in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, Obama made a last-minute decision to scrap an appearance with late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel.
KCAL9's Dave Bryan spoke with residents about the president's visit amid the escalating conflicts abroad.
Some people in Larchmont Village criticized the president for spending three days an a cross-country fundraising trip at this time.
"I think the obvious answer that there's a lot of stuff going on, and maybe his time isn't as well spent fundraising in Hancock Park," one young woman said.
"I hope he's focused enough on what's going on with the Middle East, and Gaza and the Ukraine. Things are really awful right now, so I assume he's working on that," another woman said.
Others reaffirmed their unswerving support for Obama.
"I think he took a very difficult situation and has raised our society up in every way," one woman responded. "I think he's a great leader; I wish I could vote for him for a third term."
In Washington, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell faulted Obama for not being in town while Congress debates vital legislation.
"I'm not going to give him advice about how to allocate his time, but he's certainly not spending the kind of time with the people he needs to pass legislation and convince people who have a vote, who were sent here to legislate, of the virtues of whatever position he has," McConnell said.
White House officials say Obama is more than able to carry out all his duties and attend to crises while on the road.
"In terms of fundraising, it's a responsibility that presidents in both parties for generations have been responsible for," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday. "And the president, like his predecessors, is interested in supporting members of his party who are on the ballot in 2014 and that's part of what he'll be doing over the course of this week."
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