Pelosi-Obama Cold Front Moving Into California

Pelosi-Obama Cold Front Moving Into California
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On Friday, one of the Democratic Party’s most generous supporters may view up close what “climate change” looks like. That's when President Obama and Nancy Pelosi will be among those gathered at his home near San Francisco in support of House Democrats.

By anyone’s definition, putting Obama and Pelosi together under one roof to sing House Democrats’ praises a week after a messy intraparty rift over trade policy should be interesting.

Tom Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund founder whose passion is combating climate change, is scheduled along with wife Kat Taylor to host a top-dollar fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at their home, where the president and the minority leader have replenished Democratic coffers many times before. 

But on Tuesday, it was unclear whether the president and the liberal congresswoman from San Francisco were on speaking terms. 

Scrambling to rescue his administration’s Asia-focused trade agenda, which Pelosi’s opposition helped torpedo on June 12, Obama spoke by phone several times with House Speaker John Boehner on Monday, but by Tuesday he had not touched base with Pelosi, according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.  

“President Obama and Leader Pelosi have demonstrated that they have a strong enough personal and professional relationship to withstand a difference even on an important issue like this,” Earnest said.

Pelosi, in an interview with CNBC Tuesday, declined to describe her conversation with Obama before the climactic House votes tangled the trade trajectory. She spoke like a San Francisco congresswoman more than as a House Democratic leader when she said she wanted to “slow down” fast-track legislation that would have granted U.S. negotiators leverage to get a massive trans-Pacific trade pact completed. 

“What you saw on the floor on Friday was an expression of concern of the American people. We are representatives. That is our title, and that is our job description. These are our constituents,” she told CNBC’s John Harwood.

“I'll take you with me to my district, we'll go to church, we'll go to a parade, any place, the dry cleaners. And you will be very surprised at how everyday people who are not connected to any organized organizations, who come up and say, ‘Don't vote for that.’”

During a long floor speech last week, Pelosi said the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, without more safeguards to protect workers and the environment in an era of globalization, was unacceptable to her and to most of her caucus. On Monday, the minority leader floated a new argument, urging Congress and the executive branch to abandon “fast-track” in order to rethink how trade deals are negotiated in the future, perhaps bringing the United Nations or other international bodies into the deliberations at the outset. 

Seeking legislative options, Obama and pro-trade Republicans in both chambers need to plow a new legislative path around Pelosi and the majority of the House Democratic caucus. Because Democrats lost House and Senate majorities during his tenure as president, Obama’s differences with organized labor and with progressives when it comes to the costs and benefits of trade present political implications.

Pelosi said the differences in her party were not about trusting Obama but about trusting the provisions of a trade pact that is incomplete.

“I certainly trust the president, and I think all of our members trust the president. We disagree with the president on that because this TPP has not even been completed,” she explained.

Tickets to the DCCC fundraiser in California are reportedly $10,000 per person. The event is expected to pull together benefactors who are Pelosi allies, such as Steyer. An environmentalist who is investing his wealth to deliver political change, Steyer supported Obama’s campaigns and the administration’s climate change agenda. He is backing Hillary Clinton for president and hosted a fundraiser for her in May.  

The DCCC did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Obama has invited members of Congress from both parties to the annual White House summer picnic on the South Lawn Wednesday. The president’s spokesman downplayed the notion that Obama would use the event to buttonhole lawmakers about the trade pact legislation. 

In remarks over the weekend, Clinton, who plans to blitz through California fundraising events for her campaign Friday and Saturday, urged Obama to heed Pelosi on trade.

"In order to get a deal that meets these high standards, the president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers, to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible," she said in Iowa. "And if we don't get it, there should be no deal."

Clinton is attempting to straddle the trade fence as organized labor and progressives in her party assail the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a bad deal for U.S. job growth, for wage stability, for worker rights and for environmental protections globally. 

Between San Francisco and Los Angeles later this week, left-leaning donors will assemble to hear Obama at separate events organized to benefit the Democratic National Committee, and also at separate campaign fundraisers for Clinton. The president and Clinton are not expected to see one another as they zoom from mansion to mansion.

On June 18, Obama will attend a pre-dinner DNC fundraiser near Los Angeles at the home of television producer Chuck Lorre, followed by a dinner fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of entertainer Tyler Perry.

On June 19, before Steyer’s DCCC event, Obama will attend a DNC roundtable event with about 20 business/tech leaders at the San Francisco home of Uber investor Shervin Pishevar. Former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina advised Pishevar while he also worked for Priorities USA Action, the super PAC created for Obama that’s now raising money for Clinton’s campaign. David Plouffe, Obama’s former White House political adviser, currently works for Uber.

On June 19, Clinton plans to stack Los Angeles-area fundraisers from lunch through dinner. At midday, she’ll be at the home of Westfield Co.’s co-CEO Peter Lowy and his wife, Janine Lowy, in Beverly Hills. Lowy’s real estate company, which develops malls worldwide, plans projects at the site of the World Trade Center and in Century City in Los Angeles. 

Next, the former secretary of state will join LGBT and other supporters at the Los Angeles home of HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo and Sonny Ward. Her evening fundraiser is scheduled at the Los Angeles home of actor Tobey Maguire and his wife, Jennifer Maguire.

On June 20, Clinton will follow Obama to San Francisco to raise money for her primary bid at an event hosted by real estate broker and investor Rick Hills at his home.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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