Obama comes to Southern California seeking Latino support

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the $447 billion jobs bill he sent to Congress during a news conference in the East Room of the White House October 6, 2011 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the $447 billion jobs bill he sent to Congress during a news conference in the East Room of the White House October 6, 2011 in Washington, DC.
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President Barack Obama is back in Los Angeles Monday raising money for his re-election campaign — and shoring up support among Latinos.

“Yes, he is in trouble with Latino voters,” Antonio Gonzalez said. Gonzalez is president of the Los Angeles-based William Velazquez Institute.

“He would gain about half the Latino vote if the election were held today,” Gonzalez said. That’s a “precipitous decline” from his zenith in 2009, which was about 80 percent.

That decline puts his re-election in jeopardy, because of the large number of Latino voters in swing states like Nevada and Florida.

The president hopes to re-establish support from Latinos with a Los Angeles fundraiser organized by the Futuro Fund, a group comprised of Latinos. The star-studded event is at the home of actor Antonio Banderas and his wife Melanie Griffith. Actress Eva Longoria helps host the event.

Another fundraiser is at the home of producer James Lassiter with hosts Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Both events are in the Hancock Park area. Expect major traffic delays in and around Hancock Park starting in the late afternoon and lasting into the evening.

Gonzalez said many Latinos blame Obama for failing to push immigration reform through Congress. He notes Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate for the first two years of his presidency.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who will attend Obama’s fundraiser, defends the president.

“First of all, President Obama doesn’t not have a vote in the Congress,” Villaraigosa said. “I put the blame on the Congress and particularly the Republicans who have opposed any effort at comprehensive immigration reform.”

But Latinos are not just upset about immigration, Gonzalez said. Latinos have been hit disproportionately hard by unemployment and foreclosures, and many blame Obama.

“You have essentially seen the elimination of a gigantic portion of the American middle class," Gonzalez said, "and perhaps the majority of the black and Latino middle class as defined through home ownership.”

At the same time, said Gonzalez, no Republican contender “has captured the Latino imagination.” He notes many continue to talk about militarizing the southern U.S. border.

Air Force One arrives at LAX shortly before 5 p.m., flying to the UCLA area via helicopter. A motorcade will transport the president to Hancock Park, where he will attend fundraisers later that evening and stay the night. He leaves Tuesday around noon, after taping a segment with Jay Leno for “The Tonight Show.”

The Secret Service remains tight-lipped about Obama's exact route. A representative from the Wilshire Community Police Station said they have not been given any information regarding specific street closures.

However, L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl told KNX radio in an interview that "Sunset, Santa Monica, Pico and Olympic (boulevards) are under consideration for the route to Hancock Park for the fundraiser."

According to Beverly Hills Patch, motorists can expect delays on the 405 Freeway. Streets between the 405 and Highland Avenue may be most impacted.

Rosendahl also told KNX that "After the president clears a certain location, they will immediately open up the streets."

This story has been updated and includes contributions from KPCC's Andrea Wang.