Conan Nolan & Sergio LeLevier
President Obama wraps up his trip to Southern California with a visit to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Conan Nolan reports.
President Barack Obama made another visit to Burbank for a "The Tonight Show" appearance Tuesday as part of a two-day campaign swing in Southern California.
Obama was the first sitting president to appear on the show March 19, 2009.
Obama traveled from Beverly Hills to NBC Studios in Burbank Tuesday morning. After the 10:30 a.m. visit with Jay Leno, President Obama left LAX at about noon for San Francisco.
"I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see him," said Karen Podratz, who drove from Yucaipa to wait in light rain outside NBC Studios for the president's appearance.
Leno asked the president about the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the death of Libya's Moammar Khaddafy.
"And he had an opportunity during the Arab spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy," Obama said. "We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn't do it. And, obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that people long to be free, and they need to respect the human rights and universal aspirations of people."
Asked by Leno whether he has been watching the Republican presidential debates, Obama deadpanned, "I'm going to wait until everybody is voted off the island," drawing applause from the audience.
"Once they narrow it down to one or two, I'll start paying attention," he said.
Obama also said he believes "the things that folks across the country are most fed up with, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, is putting party ahead of country or putting the next election ahead of the next generation."
The show will air Tuesday at 11:35 p.m. PT.
The president arrived in Los Angeles Monday for two fundraisers after stopping in Las Vegas to discuss his mortgage relief plan.
After arriving at LAX at about 4:30 p.m., President Obama pumped a few bucks into the local economy by making a surprise appearance at Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles on Pico Boulevard. The restaurant was full of diners when the president walked in and order the No. 9 -- the Country Boy comes with three wings and a side (the president ordered candied yams) for $9.
"It's healthy fried food," said an employee when asked about the First Lady's healthy foods initiative. "This is not deep-fried. This is skillet fried."
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, joined Obama at the counter. He greeted customers in each booth, shook hands and posed for pictures.
His next stop was the home of movie producer James Lassiter. Supporters paid $35,800 to attend the Hancock Park fundraiser, at which Obama spoke about the different between his re-election campaign and his first campaign for president.
"Back then, it was still fresh and new,'' Obama said. "I didn't have any gray hair. Everybody loved the 'Hope' posters and all that. This time, we've got to grind it out a little bit. We've got to grind it out. But the cause is the same. And my passion is the same. And my commitment is the same."
Attendees included actor Will Smith, who starred in Lassiter's film "Hitch,'' and former Laker Magic Johnson. Obama discussed the mortgage refinance program and said homeowners would be able to refinance at lower rates, so they would have more money to "shop, go to Will's movies'' and patronize Johnson's businesses.
Obama then went to the nearby home of actors Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith for a fundraiser organized by the Futuro Fund, a group of Latino supporters of Obama. "Desperate Housewives'' star Eva Longoria, a co-host of the event, introduced Obama by saying that he "speaks to the Latino community because he knows he's the president of all Americans.''
About 200 people attended the event, at which the president said "we've got much work left to do.'' Obama said he keeps a check list in his desk and that he has accomplished "about 60 percent'' of his goals.
"I'm pretty confident we can get the next 40 percent done in the next five years,'' Obama said.
Tickets for the event ranged from $5,000 to $35,800. The upper price was determined by the contribution limits of $2,500 for a primary campaign, $2,500 for a general election campaign and $30,800 for a national party committee.
Obama has made eight visits to the Los Angeles area since being elected president. He has spoken at political fundraisers during all but his first visit. Of the eight trips, this is the third that includes an event other than a fundraiser.
The first visit on "The Tonight Show" included a gaffe when he said his bowling score -- 129 -- "was like Special Olympics, or something.'' Obama called Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver to apologize.