President Obama dropped by Marissa Mayer’s house in Palo Alto last night for a $30,000-a-plate Silicon Valley fund raiser.Afterwards, on Twitter, Marissa was understandably excited: “The President came to our house for dinner tonight. It was absolutely surreal!”
The president started by noting the giant Halloween decorations. Then he talked about the success of Silicon Valley and the depressing state of much of the rest of the nation, before walking outside and meeting some Palo Alto-ers gathered on the sidewalk.
Here’s a video of the sidewalk schmooze, shot by SF Gate:
Here’s the press pool report on the event, provided by SF Gate:
Setting: Big brown shingled home was decorated with huge blow up Halloween decorations on the roof (pumpkins, black cats, etc.). Inside about 50 diners inside small wood beamed dining room….with Giants-Phillies game updates at the ready throughout the President’s fundraiser.
Obama entered through the kitchen to be greeted with warm applause and standing ovation from the crowd in the adjoining dining room; they included Democratic fundraiser and Silicon Valley insider Wade Randlett.
Before he spoke, Mayer’s husband Zachary Bogue delivered the news: “First, an important announcement, Giants game is 3-2 Phillies.”
“Despite the game, we want to thank you all for being here,” said Bogue, standing next to Mayer.
Mayer reminded the crowd that the garage where Silicon Valley giant Hewlett Packard was founded “is just a few blocks away.”
“As an engineer in Silicon Valley, I’m very optimistic” that the foundation for “a strong and healthy economy” has been laid, she said.
“Tonight is really about camaraderie, as well as about optimism..these are two traits that have really drawn a lot of us to the president,” she said.
She noted that “I met him for th first time in 2003 when he came to Google as a State Senatorâ€¦it is my great honour to introduce him as the 44th President of the United States.”
Obama told the diners to sit down and said “I’m not going to bore you with a long speech.”
“My main message is to say thank you to Zachary and Marissa for opening up this wonderful home…I was especially thrilled to see the pumpkins and the Halloween stuff out there.”
That’s because “I will be home on Sunday night when the girls get dressed up and do some trick or treating,” he said.
He noted that he sees “a lot of old friends” here and “some new ones as well.”
Obama said he remembered his first visit to Google years ago, where he first met Mayer, and said “it spoke to the….American idea, that if we’re innovating, if people have the tools to let their imaginations run, then there’s nothing we can’t do in this country.”
He said that America is now coming out of “a decade in which, frankly, that can do spirit had been lost.”
He noted that the country is going through a tough economic times. But he said his task “hasn’t just been to stop the bleeding,â€ but to find out how the country can deal with the issues “that have prevented more Googles from being created.”
“We’ve made a start on all these fronts,” he said. “Our education agenda has been as innovative and aggressive as anything we’ve seen.”
“We have tackled things like health care that have been weights around the necks of…individuals and families,” he said.
“We’re taking on clean energy in ways that we haven’t seen before,” made the largest investment in clean energy in history, and “we’re seeing solar panels and wind turbines” all across the country, he said.
“I’m optimistic about the future, but in the short term, we’ve got a long way to go. There are a lot of people out there that are hurting,” he said. “A lot of kids who still aren’t sure that they can finance their college education.”
“In an environment where people are frustrated and hurting,” he said, the mission is now about “going forwards,” not going backwards. “In a place like California, frankly, as many people as I meet, I can’t meet everybody..you help us do that,”â€™ he said to the donors.
“I’m grateful to you. We are excited about the last 10 days,” he said, noting he has traveled to Oregon, Ohio.
“As we travel around the country..although everybody recognises the last two years have been tough,” what has been “remarkable” is the “degree of resilience.”
Obama said he wanted to “have a chance to talk to all of you, and hear from all of you.”
But he added with a laugh that “if at any time people want to come in here and get an update on the Giants game, I’m perfectly happy.”
The press was retired to “Mayer’s Movie Madness,” the home’s basement, where there’s a lavish full screening room with huge rocker chairs playing the Giants-Phillies game on big screen, and a real snack bar, completely with popcorn machine and big box candy.
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