After landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport around sundown on a clear fall evening, President Obama stepped off Air Force One, turned toward Mount Rainier and mouthed, “Wow.”
Later, hundreds of local supporters — and protesters — got a “wow” moment of their own as the president whizzed past on the way to a pair of fundraisers.
But that was as close as onlookers got Sunday, as Obama did not hold any public events, allow reporters to see more than a portion of his remarks or even greet officials at the airport during the short visit.
Obama came to raise money for congress-ional Democrats, attending a discussion at the North Seattle home of clothing retailer Tom Campion and a dinner at the Medina home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley.
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The president said in Medina he’s “incredibly optimistic about our future,” pointing to reduced oil imports, health-care progress and the return of U.S. manufacturing.
He promised to work with Republicans whenever possible but said the House GOP has been an “impediment,” so “those opportunities have been few and far between.”
He touched only briefly on the struggle to implement his health-care law and did not mention the nuclear agreement the United States and Iran struck Saturday.
About 100 environmental activists gathered along the motorcade route to show their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which would take Canadian crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries.
It was Obama’s seventh visit to Washington as president and first since winning re-election last November.
He may have run his last political race, as he often says, but the president will be very much affected by next year’s midterm elections.
Sunday’s events were part of a West Coast swing to raise money for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“In the year before an election like this, I think the most tangible way that an incumbent president of either party, frankly, can benefit his party’s prospects in congressional races is to try to help them raise money,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Obama landed at Sea-Tac about 4:15 p.m.
Some 200 onlookers and protesters awaited as he arrived at the Campion home an hour later.
The protesters, with the group 350 Seattle, shouted chants like “Hey, Obama, we don’t want your pipeline drama,” and held signs such as “Oops We Destroyed the Planet” and “Coal, Oil, Gas — None Shall Pass.”
Emily Johnston, a group spokeswoman, said Obama’s legacy is riding on his administration’s decision on the pipeline, which could come soon.
Campion, co-founder of the youth-clothing chain Zumiez, is also an environmentalist and backer of the League of Conservation Voters.
He and his wife, Sonya, have hosted Hillary Rodham Clinton and given more than $750,000 to Democratic federal political committees and candidates over the past five years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
On Sunday, about 30 guests paid $20,000 (or $32,400 per couple) to attend, according to a Democratic National Committee official.
About 60 people attended the $16,200-per-person (or $32,400-per-couple) event in Medina, where reporters were allowed to see Obama’s remarks but not a question-and-answer session.
Also on hand were U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic Reps. Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene and Derek Kilmer.
Shirley and his late wife, Mary, have been among the area’s biggest arts benefactors and helped finance the Olympic Sculpture Park. They have donated nearly $200,000 to Democratic political committees and candidates since 2009.
After spending the night in Seattle, Obama was to attend Monday events near San Francisco and Los Angeles, speaking, in part, about immigration.
Staff reporters Lornet Turnbull and Steve Miletich contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.
Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @Jim_Brunner