President Obama remained elusive on climate change at two different California fundraisers on Wednesday night, but placed responsibility for change on every American.
“We are responsible for ourselves, and our families, and our neighborhoods, and our cities, and our farmlands, and our neighbors, and our nation, and future generations,” the president told a crowd of about 70 people attending the fundraiser at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty in support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The fundraisers were the first of his second term, and meant for raising money for Democrats in the San Francisco area. He will also attend two additional events later Thursday to benefit the Democratic National Committee.
At a cocktail reception at the home of Democratic billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, the president said he will work with Republicans each day during the next two years to reach areas of common ground.
“The most important thing that it’s going to take is people in Washington who are willing to speak truth to power, are willing to take some risks politically, are willing to get a little bit out ahead of the curve,” he said on Wednesday night.
The president referred to his State of the Union address from earlier this year in which he spoke about the meaning of an American “citizen” and having obligations to the nation. He also mentioned the stabilization of the economy, improvements in health insurance, gun control, and his hopeful plans for immigration reform, but avoided mentioning specific plans to deal with climate control.
He was careful, however, to mention that he also needs to convince the middle class that he is working hard for them.
“The politics of this are tough. Because if you haven’t seen a raise in a decade; if your house is still $25,000, $30,000 underwater; if you’re just happy that you’ve still got that factory job that is powered by cheap energy…you may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your number-one concern,” the president said.
“And if people think, ‘well, that’s shortsighted, that’s what happens when you’re struggling to get by.’ You’re thinking about what’s right in front of you, which is how do I fill up my gas tank and how do I feed my family?”
At Steyer’s home—where attendees contributed between $5,000 and $34,200 each toward the fundraiser—the president noted there is still work to do and “we can do so much more.”
Environmental activists protested the event at the Getty household, voicing their anger over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oil from Canadian tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast refineries upon approval from the administration.
Their protests came just a week after an Exxon pipeline in Central Arkansas burst and soaked the town of Mayflower in thousands of barrels of crude oil.