DALLAS (AP) — A day before sharing the stage with his Republican predecessor, President Barack Obama raised money for Democrats at a supporter's sprawling home in Texas.
Even as he sought to build up his party on Wednesday, Obama hinted at a more bipartisan tone set to envelop Dallas on Thursday, when the Obamas attend the dedication ceremony for former President George W. Bush's presidential library. He vigorously defended the Republican whose record as president he derided in both of his presidential campaigns.
"One of the things I will insist upon is that whatever our political differences, President Bush loves this country and loves his people, and shares that same concern, and is concerned about all people in America," Obama said. "Not just some. Not just those who voted Republican."
Riffing on immigration, education, gay rights and women's issues, Obama likened the Democratic Party's values to those displayed by Americans who rushed to help strangers in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion last week in West, Texas.
"The Democratic Party, at its best, tries to give expression to that," Obama said.
He lamented that the sense of national unity and communal obligation that often follows such tragedies evaporates so quickly. "Wouldn't it be something if we could somehow capture and sustain that spirit beyond tragedy?" he said.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived in Dallas on Wednesday, greeting supporters who gathered to welcome him to this heavily Republican state before headlining a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, still millions in debt from fueling Obama's re-election victory in November.
About 60 donors paid between $10,000 to $32,000 per ticket, said a Democratic official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss party finances. Hosting the event was Naomi Aberly, a major Obama fundraiser and prominent supporter of Planned Parenthood who credited Obama for working to protect women's reproductive rights. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who was Obama's first-term U.S trade representative, also attended.