President Barack Obama, with his suit jacket off and his white shirt sleeves rolled up, rallied thousands of students and Democrats at USC on Friday, telling them they need to vote next month to prevent the country from being returned to failed Republican policies of the past.
Obama told the partisan crowd he knew the nation's economy has been struggling and his administration has been under fire, but he said such challenges were expected.
"I understand the last two years haven't been easy," Obama said. "I know that a lot of you, you're thinking back to election night or inauguration day and how much fun that was, and Beyonce was singing and Bono and Jamie (Foxx) was there and it felt like a big party. But I want everybody to understand, I told you this was going to be hard. I told you power concedes nothing without a fight."
Obama spoke at the fifth in a series of what the Democratic National Committee has dubbed "Moving America Forward" rallies, during which Obama has stressed the need for young voters to be engaged in the political process and vote in November.
He drove home that point during the energetic rally that included introductions by Jamie Foxx and a performance by the band Ozomatli. In a roughly 25-minute speech, Obama said the Democratic Party needs supporters to be "committed to finish what we started in 2008."
"That's why it's so important for all of you to get out, all of you have got to vote," he said. "If everybody who fought for change in 2008 turns out this time, we will win this election. And so I want to remind you why you got involved. You didn't get involved just to elect a president. You got involved because you believed we were at a defining moment. You believed that this was a time when the decisions we make, the challenges we face, are going to shape the lives of our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren for decades to come.
"That's why you knocked on doors, that's why you made phone calls. That's why some of you cast your vote for the very first time."
Prior to taking the stage, Obama took part in a fundraising luncheon for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who is facing a tough re-election challenge from Republican Carly Fiorina.
"The other side, they want to take us back, they want to take us back to the Bush policies," Boxer told the crowd after the luncheon. "They did not work, did they?"
Jahan Wilcox, a regional press secretary for the Republican National Committee, told City News Service earlier that "Senator Barbara Boxer has been in office for 28 years and during that time California has lost millions of jobs.
"If that's what Senator Boxer and the White House considers 'moving forward' then California and the rest of the country is in serious trouble."
Brian Seitchik of the California Republican Party said Obama's visit "might generate a few celebrity sightings and gin up some half-hearted enthusiasm within the Democrats' base."
People began entering the rally at USC's Alumni Park at 10 a.m. Admittance was provided on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Brandi Hoffine of the Democratic National Committee.
Air Force One arrived in LA at about 11:20 a.m. PT.
Following his appearances at USC, Obama was headed to Glendale to tape an appearance on the Univision Radio program "Piolin por la Manana." The radio interview with host Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo will air Monday on KSCA 101.9 FM in Los Angeles. It's the third time Piolin has interview Obama.
"I am thrilled to interview President Barack Obama once again -- and in our home on 'Piolin por la Mañana,'" Sotelo said in a news release. "This historic interview, in-studio, will give the President a direct line of communication to our listeners to address issues important to the Hispanic community."
Obama planned to fly to Las Vegas following the interview for a Democratic National Committee rally and fundraiser for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Obama flew into Los Angeles International Airport from San Francisco. He is in the midst of a five-state, four-day trip mixing fundraising with events intended to boost turnout among groups that supported him in 2008, such as students and Latinos, in an effort to limit Democratic losses in the midterm elections.
Obama Visit Creates Traffic Delays for Angelenos
For motorists, his visit brought up another issue -- traffic. His August visit created traffic delays on many Westside and Hancock Park streets. Motorists crept along major streets and found themselves facing blocked streets and searching for alternate routes already filled with frustrated drivers.
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, chairman of the council's Transportation Committee, summoned Los Angeles Police Department and Department of Transportation officials the August nightmare to review procedures for rerouting traffic to accommodate dignitaries.
In anticipation of the visit, Rosendahl said he talked to a White House official and "suggested that the transportation could be simple and cause no congestion."
White House Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki said this week, officials work to minimize traffic impacts when the president travels.
"Presidential travel is more complicated with more pieces than most people are aware of," Psaki told reporters. "We certainly do everything we can to minimize any negative impact it could have to any community. Our hope is always we can keep any disruption to a minimum."
Obama Becoming a SoCal Regular
The visit was Obama's fifth to Southern California as president and the first time he spoke at an event that was free and open to the public since his first visit in March 2009, when he conducted town hall meetings in Costa Mesa and near downtown Los Angeles and appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
The visit was Obama's second to USC. He came to the campus on Oct. 27, 2006, while he was a U.S. senator, speaking at rallies in support of the statewide Democratic ticket and Proposition 87, what proved to be a failed ballot measure that would have raised taxes on oil companies to fund research into alternative energy.
Obama is the fifth sitting president to visit USC and the first since Ronald Reagan in 1984, according to university records. The others were William Howard Taft in 1911, Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935 and Gerald R. Ford in 1976.