President Obama took the stage at 6:04 p.m. Friday evening in Seattle to standing ovation from the 1,450 crowd in the Westin Hotel ballroom downtown. The fundraiser brought in $500,000 for Senator Patty Murray’s reelection campaign.
To shouts of “We love you,” the president responded he loved Seattle, “one of the most beautiful places in America.” He mentioned his mother, who went to high school on Mercer Island.
Obama praised Murray for starting out in politics as a mom in tennis shoes.
“All these years later, that’s still who she is,” he said. “She’s just helped a whole lot of people. We have to have people like Patty Murray back in the United States Senate.”
Earlier in the evening, Murray told the crowd in her own speech that she would fight for a higher minimum wage. She said she knows republicans won’t drop “trickle down” economics and said she’s confident “the tea party is not going to be be persuaded by any argument at all.”
For his part, Obama outlined positive accomplishments of his administration, citing job creation, less dependence on foreign oil, and the end of policies like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“Why are all these Republicans so down on America? Listening to them is really depressing and it doesn’t match up with the truth. In the world they create, everything was great in in 2008…To hear them tell it, those were the good old days, the golden years,” Obama said, recalling that the U.S. was in the midst of a major economic recession and two wars.
“You gotta feel bad for the fact checkers who can’t keep up with some of the stuff that they say,” Obama said.
Obama mocked republicans for denial of climate change, saying if 99 percent of doctors told you you had diabetes, “you wouldn’t call it a hoax.”
“And you’ve got the chair of the Energy and Environment Committee in the Senate holding up a snowball during winter and saying ‘see – it isn’t happening,’” he said. “No it’s a problem – you guys are laughing.”
The president got a loud standing ovation when he briefly addressed gun violence, lamenting the constant news of mass shootings at schools.
“We know we’ve got to do something to prevent the kind of massacres we saw last week and two months before that and two months before that,” Obama said to the loudest applause of the evening. “…It’s not normal. It’s choices we make, and it is a choice we can change. There are ways to protect our children and protect our rights.”
Obama criticized Republicans (and Donald Trump by name) for stoking anti-immigrant sentiment, asking how many in the crowd had Italian or Irish heritage, noting critics used to say the same things about those groups.
“When I took office we were losing 800,000 jobs a month,” Obama said. Since then Obama said that 13.2 million jobs have been created under his administration, unemployment has fallen to 5.1 percent and that many more have health insurance.
“When I took office our standing in the world was diminished,” Obama said, but now the U.S. is leading the world on issues like the nuclear deal with Iran and on negotiations with climate change. “We’ve got a lot of stuff done.”
“Marriage equality is now a reality in all 50 states,” Obama said to a long ovation.
Obama’s speech ended at 6:28 p.m. and he was transported via motorcade to Boeing Field to board Air Force One at 6:46 p.m. His next stop: a private residence in San Francisco for another fundraising event. Before his brief trip to Seattle, the president visited family members and victims of the Roseburg, Oregon shooting.