With his poll numbers in free fall because of the troubled health care rollout, protesters preparing to meet him in the streets and some fundraiser tickets cut to bargain-basement prices, President Barack Obama returns to the Bay Area on Monday.
What a difference six months makes.
When Obama last arrived in the Bay Area, on June 6, Gallup tracked his approval rating nationwide at 62 percent and disapproval at 32 percent. By Friday -- a few days before he's scheduled to raise money for Democrats and speak on immigration reform -- it was at 39 percent approval and 54 percent disapproval.
"It's an interesting time for him," said Henry Brady, dean of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. "I think there's some sense that 'Oh my gosh, this guy just can't seem to get things done.' ... For a person who campaigned on 'Yes we can,' that's a little discouraging for the White House."
News of National Security Agency domestic-surveillance programs was just breaking when Obama came in June to raise money in Palo Alto and Portola Valley and overshadowed the health reform law speech he gave the next day in San Jose.
Since then, the president has weathered the government shutdown, for which the public mostly blamed House Republicans, polls showed. But the technical problems plaguing insurance enrollment under the new health law -- and some Americans' accounts of losing their old health plans and having to pay more for policies that meet the new law's standards -- have recently sent the president's popularity reeling.
Obama also arrives as the international nuclear agreement that his administration helped broker with Iran prompts mixed reactions at home and abroad.
Corey Cook, a University of San Francisco professor and political expert, said top-level donors still support the president and protesters still focus on their own targeted issues. But, he said, "The enthusiasm gap is growing."
Democrats during last month's government shutdown crowed about the damage it did to the Republican brand and speculated about their chances to retake the House in 2014, Cook said. Just weeks later, some House Democrats -- perhaps not in the true-blue Bay Area, but elsewhere -- might hesitate to be seen with so unpopular a president.
Harmeet Dhillon, the San Francisco Republican Party's chairwoman and the state GOP's vice chairwoman, acknowledged that San Francisco remains "probably the friendliest place in the world for this president, friendlier than Washington, D.C., right now."
But "the sheen is tarnished a bit," she said, adding that she believes "even liberals are feeling they've been lied to" about how the health care law would affect them.
The president clearly wants to flip the script here: He will visit the Betty Ong Recreation Center in San Francisco's Chinatown to talk about the importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform. That's what he'd rather have in the headlines -- an issue on which Republicans, despite their rhetoric after 2012's election, have shown only resistance this year and so stand to take a beating from voters at the national level.
"Don't let him change the topic; it's ridiculous," Dhillon said. "Nobody is talking about immigration reform right now."
Retorted Wade Randlett, an Obama fundraising "bundler" and Democratic activist in San Francisco: "Nobody except for immigrants and the high-tech community and every agriculture interest."
Obama also will headline two Democratic National Committee fundraisers Monday. Tickets for a luncheon hosted by novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife, Nicola Miner, at the San Francisco Jazz Center originally ranged from $1,000 to $15,000; Dhillon says a price drop to $500 proves "the health care thing is a huge problem for the president, and it's not going away."
Code Pink, World Can't Wait and other groups plan to demonstrate outside the luncheon to protest Obama's drone-warfare policy, which they say has killed hundreds of innocent civilians in Pakistan and Yemen. And environmental groups plan a demonstration urging Obama not to allow construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada's oil sands to Texas' refineries.
At the other fundraiser, about 20 Silicon Valley bigwigs have paid $32,400 each for close access at the Pacific Heights home of Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff. In an email Friday, Benioff said he expects the health law's computer glitches and resulting political pressures "to be a major part of the conversation."
Randlett, who will be there, predicts immigration will also be a hot topic even though those attending know Obama "is 100 percent on their side" on the issue. "I think it's also fair to suggest, given the kind of people who typically go to this, that climate change and clean tech are almost certain to come up, too."
As for the luncheon, he said, some donors who might have been willing to pony up $500 six months ago could be too angry at Obama over issues like NSA surveillance or the Syrian civil war to do so now.
"But it's also sold out," he noted. "You can't get the support of everyone all the time. ... This is not a unanimous-consent roll call here."
Obama will fly to Los Angeles for two Democratic fundraisers on Monday night. The next day, he'll speak about the economy at the DreamWorks Animation studio in Glendale.
Air Force One arrives at SFO.
Obama speaks on immigration reform in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Obama headlines Democratic fundraising luncheon at San Francisco Jazz Center.
Obama headlines Democratic fundraising reception with tech leaders at San Francisco home of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Air Force One departs SFO for Los Angeles.
Obama headlines Democratic fundraising reception at Beverly Hills home of Earvin "Magic" Johnson and his wife, Cookie.
Obama headlines Democratic fundraising dinner at Beverly Park home of Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl.
Obama attends round-table at the Hancock Park home of "Friends" creator Marta Kauffman and her husband, Michael Skloff.
Obama tours the DreamWorks Animation SKG movie studio campus in Glendale.
Air Force One departs from LAX.