Protesters and supporters lined the streets of downtown Bellevue as President Barack Obama swept through town Friday for two private fundraising events in Medina and at the Westin Bellevue.
After his visit to The Boeing Co. plant in Everett, he stopped by Jeff Brotman’s home in Medina, where about 65 people enjoyed a $17,900-a-plate fundraising luncheon, with singer Natalie Cole scheduled to perform, according to a spokesman for Obama’s 2012 campaign. Obama flew from Everett to the Eastside via the Marine One helicopter, which landed in Kirkland's Northwest University.
After the stop in Medina, Obama joined about 400 people at a $1,000 lunch at the Westin Bellevue. Gov. Chris Gregoire, Seattle Supersonics Bill Russell and Fred Brown, and others were at the Bellevue fundraising event.
People with a wide variety of political views lined Northeast Sixth Street in front of the Westin before they were moved to Bellevue Way Northeast in front of Bellevue Square.
Several people held signs supporting Republican candidates, including Gail of Federal Way, who declined to give her last name because her children live in Bellevue and have opposite views from her.
Gail, who held a Rick Santorum sign, said that she came out with other demonstrators holding signs with pro-life messages to show that many in the U.S. are for a separation of church and state.
“The government is supposed to protect the people and protect the nation. It’s not to attack churches. According to his party, they talk about separation of church and state, which is not in the Constitution and not in the Bill of Rights,” she said.
“Why should we as taxpayers pay for abortions and other people’s contraceptives?”
People from the other side of the political spectrum also came with signs demonstrating against the exclusivity of the $1,000+ price tag to get into one of the functions on the Eastside.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, corporate relationships have got to go,” some chanted.
Chris Natale--who co-organized a Downtown Park $0 a plate lunch offering free bologna sandwiches and other goodies, with Occupy Seattle's "Get Money Out of Politics program"--said that the protest was a way for regular people to express frustration with a system that doesn’t make it easy to get access to politicans.
“I might be voting for him, but it troubles me that our entire political system is structured in a way that people get close to him and get his ear by paying $1,000 to $5,000 per plate to sit down, when it is really the people who don’t have that much money who need to have his ear,” Natale said.
However, Obama’s supporters also came out, including Brendyn Alexander and Sean Kelley, who paid to get into the Westin Fundraiser.
“I think I like who the Republicans are putting out there because they’re both morons. I think it helps Obama’s chances,” Kelley said.
“He hasn’t done as good of a job as a lot of us would have hoped, but considering the circumstances, I’m pretty happy with what the president has done.”
Teri McClain and Mary Beth Brotski, both of Seattle, stood outside the Westin wearing sandwich boards proclaiming: “Rain or Shine, I support Obama everyday,” and “Black History Month <3’s (hearts) President Obama.”
They got a lot of different reaction on their way to Bellevue Way on the bus.
“There was a lady who clapped. A couple who smiled. A guy in a pickup truck who gave us the finger and used a profanity, and a construction truck driver who gave the finger, too. But then another guy gave a fist pump. So, so far mostly positive,” McClain said.
“I’m in it for the long haul. I expect to celebrate him in 2012.”
However, McClain said she didn’t try to get into any of the fundraisers.
“This is cheaper!”