San Diegans who paid thousands to attend a luncheon for President Barack Obama described a relaxed and intimate afternoon covering topics ranging from rights of religious minorities to healthcare.
Air Force One arrived in San Diego Thursday for President Obama's visit to the home of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. It was the only scheduled stop on the president's itinerary.
The president's plane was spotted in the air over Marine Corps Air Station Miramar just before noon.
After exiting the plane, President Obama was greeted byColonel John Farnam, Commanding Officer, Maj. General Steven Busby, Commanding General, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
The president and the mayor had a brief conversation before walking over to a group of military families who shook hands with Obama and took a fair number of selfies with the president in the background.
After 10 minutes, the president traveled to the Jacobs' cliffside mansion, arriving just before 12:30 p.m.
At the fundraiser, the mega-donor crowd dined on salmon, beef and peach cobbler at a cost of $10,000 a plate. Those who spent $32,400 per couple had the opportunity to be part of a private VIP reception.
Philip Low, Ph.D. sat right by the president and said he “didn’t miss a syllable.”
“The president was very responsive, unscripted, we asked him some very important questions and he took his time,” Low said. “It was a wonderful atmosphere of community and we will cherish this afternoon for a very long time.”
La Jolla resident Hamid Mani, M.D. appreciated the president’s honesty and intimacy.
Becky Moores told NBC 7 the president was "very relaxed but very serious" about getting his message across - the Democrats need help in the general election.
NBC 7 has learned President Obama did not dine with those in attendance but was served his lunch by staff from the U.S. Navy.
On the way to the fundraiser, the presidential motorcade passed a group of roughly 100 protesters, according to a White House pool reporter.
Some of the protestors held signs that referenced Benghazi. Others called for Obama not to approve the building of the Keystone Pipeline.
UC San Diego student Eli Gefen lives two doors down from the Jacobs. He and his friends stood along the motorcade route hoping to get a glimpse of the president.
“We did get a wave on the way back, which is really cool,” Gefen said. "It was a great experience. It was really thrilling just to see the whole spectacle."
Air Force One was scheduled to depart well in advance of the rush hour traffic Thursday evening.