Obama fundraises in Houston

President attends rally at Union Station, private $38,000 per person dinner

HOUSTON - President Barack Obama came to Houston Friday for two fundraisers.

Obama was set to arrive at Ellington Field around 4:40 p.m., but stormy weather delayed his arrival about 40 minutes.

Obama spoke at a rally at Union Station where more than 600 people paid $500 to $10,000 to hear the president discuss the revival of the American auto industry, employment and healthcare. Half the money goes to Obama's campaign, the other half goes to the Democratic Party.

"We're going to use this as a rallying cry to support our president," said Lane Lewis, chairman of the Harris Count Democratic Party. "He carried Harris County last time, first time since Lyndon Johnson if I remember my history right, and he's going to carry it again this year."

The doors were not scheduled to open until 3 p.m., but people started lining up about noon.

"I want to be in line to get a good seat, hear a good speech," said Debra Emerson, and Obama supporter who drove in from Austin.

Local Republicans criticized the trip, calling it self-serving.

"This is a president whose policies have worked against Texas and specifically have worked against Harris County, so for him to come down here and ask for our money is very hypocritical," said Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.

Obama then went to the home of Anthony R. Chase in River Oaks for dinner after the event at Minute Maid Park. The dinner charged $38,500 per person with the opportunity to add an additional guest for $15,000.

Chase, a Harvard graduate, is the chairman and chief executive officer of ChaseSource and the chairman of the board of directors for the Greater Houston Partnership. He worked in 2008 to raise campaign funds for Obama, who is a fellow Harvard graduate.

"The first thing I'm going to say to the president is thank you," state Rep. Garnet Coleman said before the dinner. "Barack Obama has many supporters, particularly here in Harris County. He won Harris County against John McCain. We're here to support him."

Obama was scheduled to leave Houston at around 9 p.m., but because of rain, Air Force One was delayed once again on the tarmac.

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