OAKLAND, California — After taking a break from his re-election bid after last week's Colorado movie theater shooting, President Barack Obama eased back to the campaign trail Monday by holding several fundraisers in California.
He began his first fundraising remarks by mentioning his trip to Aurora, Colorado, on Sunday to comfort the victims' families.
"I spent time with the families, and the medical staff, the first responders. And sometimes when bad things happen, horrible things happen, I think it's easy for us to slip into despair. And yet if you had spent some time, like I did, with those people, who had faced down just unimaginable pain with strength and grace, it would make you extraordinarily optimistic about America," the president told a fundraiser in Piedmont.
Obama attended two fundraisers in the San Francisco area. Democratic activists Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan hosted the first event for about 60 people at their home in Piedmont.
Among the guests were two former players in the Solyndra investigation: venture capitalist Steve Westly and former Dept. of Energy official Matt Rogers. Westly was one of the people who warned the administration about its investment in the failed green energy company.
When the company failed, the administration lost $535 million in taxpayer dollars.
Rogers was an energy department adviser who handled some of the stimulus money in the loan guarantee process.
Later, Obama took part in a larger event at the Fox Theatre in Oakland where he spoke to about 2,000 people.
He launched into criticism of his Republican opponent Mitt Romney and the latter's recent attacks on the president's remarks about small businesses.
"Earlier today, Governor Romney was at it again, knowingly twisting my words around to suggest I don't value small business," he said. "In politics, we all tolerate a certain amount of spin. I understand those are the games that get played in political campaigns. Although when folks just omit entire sentences of what you said, they start slicing and dicing, you may have gone a little over the edge there."
"I believe with all my heart that it is the drive and ingenuity of Americans to start businesses to lead to their success. I always have and I always will," Obama added. "The ability for somebody who is willing to work hard, for them to put their sweat and sacrifices and to turn their idea into a profitable business, that's the nature of America."
He also continued his attacks on Romney's economic experience and outsourcing of jobs.
"My opponent's entire claim, his whole plan for economic renewal, is more tax cuts for the wealthy," Obama said. "Eliminate regulations for banks and corporations that we put in place after the crisis. Cutting more investments in things like education and research, and somehow this is supposed to create jobs and prosperity for everybody. That's what Romney believes. That's what his allies in Washington believe.
Here's the problem. We tried that and it didn't work."
Obama continues his campaign trip Tuesday with stops in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, for five more campaign events.