President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are both swinging through the Bay Area on fundraising missions that promise to collect as much grief as campaign cash.
Progressive groups are planning to shadow the prospective Republican nominee during a $50,000-a-head campaign stop Sunday in Woodside.
Meanwhile in Oakland, several downtown streets will be closed and police officers forbidden from taking off Monday when hundreds of demonstrators are expected to descend on the Fox Theater for a 4:30 p.m. Obama fundraiser.
Oakland is undoubtedly Obama country, but recent Justice Department attacks on the city's medical cannabis establishment and the ever-present specter of Occupy Oakland could make the president feel like he's in the belly of the beast rather than the belly of his base.
The Fox at Telegraph Avenue between 18th and 19th streets is situated in the heart of Oaksterdam -- a district dotted with cannabis-related businesses and the home base for many industry pioneers. A medical cannabis ID Card center sits directly across from the theater, and just a couple blocks away are Oaksterdam University and the Oaksterdam Museum, which federal agents raided in April.
"The irony of him coming to Oaksterdam and asking for money is flabbergasting," said Oaksterdam University's executive chancellor Dale Sky Jones. "We're going to let him know where he is Monday."
Occupy Oakland members said they also intend to protest the president's appearance. An anti-war group has scheduled a 3:30 p.m. rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza outside City Hall and is calling on supporters to "march on" the nearby theater and shut down the fundraiser.
Cannabis advocates, who have city permission to rally Monday outside City Hall, say their protest will be peaceful and that they won't attempt to enter the theater while the president is inside. They plan to hang anti-Obama banners across nearby buildings and demonstrate as close as police allow them to get to the Fox.
"It's an opportunity for us to make them aware that we're not going to sit idly by and let them get away with this," said Jeff Jones, who runs the Patient ID Center.
Medical cannabis leaders say Obama has betrayed them by going back on his 2008 campaign pledge not to target the industry in states where it is legal.
Since October, federal prosecutors have shut down hundreds of California dispensaries. In April agents raided the Oakland properties of former Oaksterdam University chief Richard Lee, who bankrolled a failed 2010 state proposition to legalize cannabis. And earlier this month prosecutors moved to shut down Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the nation's largest dispensary.
Oakland has been plagued by violent Occupy-related protests since October, and the city is implementing security restrictions for Obama's arrival. Telegraph and San Pablo Avenues will be closed all day from 17th Street to Thomas L. Berkley Way (20th Street). Several side streets also will be closed from Broadway to San Pablo. Also, the 17th Street entrance to the 19th Street BART station will be closed.
Monday's fundraising swing is believed to be the president's first visit to Oakland since he entered the White House in January 2009. Obama is scheduled to attend a 4:15 p.m. fundraising reception at the Piedmont home of Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan, before heading over to the Fox event that is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.
Romney will be in the Bay Area on Sunday. His first stop will be a 2:30 p.m. luncheon at the Woodside home of Tom Siebel, founder of C3 and Siebel Systems. Romney then will head to a 4:45 p.m. event at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, whose hosts include former San Francisco Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan. From the Fairmont, Romney will head to Pacific Heights for a 6:30 p.m. dinner hosted by Shaklee Chairman and CEO Roger Barnett.
The progressive Mid-Peninsula American Dream Council plans to have dozens of protesters across the street from Romney's Woodside event. "We'll be asking why he's only released one of his tax returns and just when he was CEO of Bain Capital," the group's spokesman, Gary Graham, said. "The mere fact that he's coming here raises the issue of money in politics."
Romney's last Bay Area visit, in May, included a $50,000-a-person fundraiser in Hillsborough as well as a media event outside the former Solyndra solar-cell manufacturing plant in Fremont.
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Author: Josh Richman
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Website: Bay Area protests planned for Obama, Romney campaign stops - San Jose Mercury News