Obama issued the warning at the first of five Democratic events he
will attend over three days that will raise hundreds of thousands of
dollars for use by the party's candidates for the Senate, the House
of Representatives and other races.
At the Bel Air home of Disney chairman Alan Horn, Obama spoke to a
crowd that included actress Barbra Streisand and her husband, actor
He exhorted them to help turn back a strong challenge from
Republicans who are trying to win control of the Senate and build on
their majority in the House.
With much of the news media focused on the potential candidacy of
Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, Obama noted that "a lot of people
here are already excited about 2016."
But he said Democratic voters need to turn out in November for
elections that will determine whether his party still has control of
the Senate for his last two years in office.
Obama urged the Democrats to "feel a sense of urgency about this
election" and resist the typical pattern in which Democratic voters
turn out in far fewer numbers in midterm elections than they do in
"This is my last campaign. And I'm going to put everything I've got
into it. But I need you to feel that this is just as important,
because we can't afford to wait until 2016," he said.
The party that controls the White House typically loses seats in
midterm elections, but Democrats are fighting to buck the historical
Obama later was to accept a humanitarian award from director Steven
Spielberg at the University of Southern California's Shoah
Foundation, a Holocaust museum founded by Spielberg after he made
Obama traveled to California from Arkansas, where he toured the
devastation left by tornadoes that slashed through parts of the
state. By his side was Senator Mark Pryor, a Democrat whose
re-election is key to the Democrats hanging on to control of the
[to top of second column]
Obama's Marine One helicopter provided the president with an aerial
view of the destruction caused by a powerful EF-4 tornado, with
winds of at least 180 miles an hour, and other deadly twisters that
ripped central Arkansas last week, killing 15 people and injuring
more than 150.
On the ground, Obama met families of the victims at Vilonia City
Hall and walked down a street in a neighborhood whose houses were
blown to pieces.
Piles of boards and scattered bricks were all that remained of some
homes on one side of the street, while on the other, several brick
structures were largely intact.
"The federal government is going to be right here until we get this
community rebuilt," Obama said, his shirt sleeves rolled up in the
Democrats see Pryor's race as critical to their bid to fend off a
strong Republican challenge and hang on to control of the Senate in
Pryor, 51, holds a narrow lead over Republican challenger Tom
Cotton, while a few months ago he was trailing. Pryor's former
Senate Democratic colleague, Blanche Lincoln, lost her re-election
bid in Arkansas in 2010 by 20 percentage points.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Ken
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