Obama urges donors to continue push for gun control, climate change

President Obama smiles before boarding Marine One helicopter from a field overlooking the iconic golden gate bridge in San Francisco, California, on April 4, 2013.

President Obama appealed to some of his wealthiest Northern California supporters Thursday on behalf of the Democratic Party, urging them to stay politically involved to push through agenda items like gun control.

"It's going to be tougher to get better gun legislation to reduce gun violence through the Senate and the House that so many of us I think want to see, particularly after the tragedy in Newtown," Mr. Obama said at a high-dollar fundraiser in the upscale Silicon Valley town of Atherton. "But I still think it can get done if people are activated and involved."

The president Thursday attended two fundraisers in Atherton to benefit the Democratic National Committee. Now that he no longer is running for office, Mr. Obama this year is taking a much more active role in fundraising for Democrats in Congress. Tickets for the two events ranged from $1,000 to $32,400.

The first event was an intimate brunch with about 30 people at the home of Mark Heising and Lis Simons. Heising is the managing director of the San Francisco investment firm Medley Partners and a board member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Philanthropist and Levi Strauss heir John Goldman and his wife Marcia Goldman hosted about 250 people at their home for the second event.

On Wednesday, Mr. Obama attended two other Democratic fundraisers. Both Wednesday and Thursday, protesters opposed to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline lined the streets near Mr. Obama's fundraisers. As with immigration reform, the president appealed to his audience to stay engaged if they wished to see progress on the issue of the environment.

"People here in this area care deeply about issues of energy and climate change," Mr. Obama said at the second event Thursday. "I think that the science is indisputable, and this is an obligation we owe to future generations. We've already done a lot to reduce our carbon footprint and to make our economy more energy efficient, but if we're going to do more, then we've got to make sure that we're active and involved."

Other high-profile Democrats attended the second event, including Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif. -- who is facing a primary challenge from a former Obama aide -- and state attorney general Kamala Harris. The president remarked on Harris' appearance a couple of times.

"She's brilliant and she's dedicated, she's tough... She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general.... It's true! C'mon," the president said, eliciting laughs from the crowd.

While the president told his first audience today that gun legislation would be a challenge, he expressed optimism about immigration reform.

"I am very optimistic that we get immigration reform done in the next few months," he said. "And the reason I'm optimistic is because people spoke out through the ballot box, and that's breaking gridlock."