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Obama chides Republicans, backs Barbara Boxer, defends changing 'don't ask, don't tell' policy

Obama makes his second trip to support Barbara Boxer and is heckled about policy on gays in the military.

By Jeff MasonReuters / May 26, 2010

President Barack Obama speaks at a fundraiser in San Francisco on Tuesday. Obama has defended his administration's position on the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.'

Alex Brandon/AP

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SAN FRANCISCO

President Barack Obama chided Republicans and joked about his own unpopularity on Tuesday while raising money for a California senator whose support he needs to advance his policy agenda.

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Obama journeyed to San Francisco to raise campaign cash for Democrat Barbara Boxer, who is battling to win a fourth term in November congressional elections.
"I don't travel for just anybody," Obama said at the first of three fundraising events on his second trip to California for Boxer, a sign of the importance he puts on getting her re-elected in what is normally a safe state for Democratic candidates.

The events were expected to raise $600,000 specifically for Boxer and $1.1 million for Democratic Senate candidates.

Like his last trip, Obama had to defend his administration's pace at changing the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

"Move faster on 'Don't ask, don't tell,'" a man in the audience shouted, interrupting the president. The White House on Monday backed a proposal that would move toward repeal of the ban.

Obama spent a big part of his remarks criticizing Republicans for leading the country into an economic mess before his election and working against him now in Congress.
"I understand the strategy of sitting on the sidelines," Obama said. "Politically it hasn't been bad for them. It made a lot of people forget how we got into this mess in the first place -- just sitting there and saying 'no' to everything."

The president met with Senate Republicans earlier on Tuesday, encouraging them to help him tackle immigration and energy reform.

POPULARITY

Obama hopes his efforts to paint Republicans as unhelpful in tackling the country's economic woes will resonate in the November polls despite a tricky environment for Democrats with a U.S. jobless rate of 9.9 percent.

Democrats hold strong majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives and are likely to lose seats in both.