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Obama ribs Villaraigosa for his 'natural reticence, his shyness'

June 07, 2013|By Kate Linthicum

President Obama jokingly praised Los Angeles' famously camera-friendly mayor about "his natural reticence, his shyness" at a local political fundraiser Friday.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who campaigned heavily for Obama's reelection, and his successor, mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, met the president at Santa Monica Airport and were later in the crowd at a luncheon fundraiser at the home of Megan and Peter Chernin.

Obama nodded to Villaraigosa and Garcetti. "We've got your current mayor, who has been able to overcome his natural reticence, his shyness, to become one of the finest leaders we have in this country."

The president described Garcetti, who has said he considers Obama a friend, as one of his earliest supporters. "I'm looking for great things out of Eric Garcetti, we're really proud of him,” he said.

A shooting at nearby Santa Monica College that left at least three people wounded was expected to cause the president to return to LAX by motorcade, a law enforcement source said. He had planned to helicopter back to LAX from Santa Monica Airport.

Chernin, an entertainment executive who worked until 2009 at News Corp., opened his home for two back-to-back Democratic National Committee fundraisers.

The first was a lunch on a sprawling back lawn. The second was a reception with approximately 35 people. Tickets for the events ranged from $10,000 to $32,400, according to a DNC official.

This was Obama's first trip to Los Angeles since his reelection. He was here for fundraisers many times during his campaign, and told luncheon attendees that he understands if they are feeling “donor fatigue.”

But, he added: “We don't have time to be fatigued because we've got too much to do.”

Obama complained about an obstructionist Republican Party and said it is essential that Democrats regain control of the House in the midterm elections. “I'll get a lot more done with a Democratic House, and we sure need to keep a Democratic Senate,” he said.

Obama said the nation’s “basic framework” is sound, praising the innovative nature of the American people. “We have a system that is open and creative and disruptive that, when it's operating at its best gives every single person the chance, if they work hard and they've got a new idea, to achieve their dreams," he said.

He added that the “one place where we’re challenged" is "a federal government that is gridlocked and a political culture that makes it difficult for us to make common cause and make common-sense, smart decisions.”

The president was heading back LAX this afternoon and then onto Rancho Mirage for meetings with the new president of China.

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