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Speakers at the Leadership Conference Credit: Muyi Li

President Barack Obama came to Philadelphia last Thursday to raise funds and support.

Obama held two Democratic National Committee fundraising events in Philadelphia, one at the Hyatt Hotel at the Bellevue and one at the home of 1981 Penn Law graduate and Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President David Cohen.

He raised more than $1.2 million at these two fundraisers, according to The Washington Post.

Students were able to attend the event at the Hyatt, part of Obama’s only fundraising stop in the mid-Atlantic region this year, for a discounted price of $100.

“This grassroots campaign is something that Penn students are already excited about,” rising College sophomore and Penn Democrats Communications Director Andrew Brown wrote in an email. “We wanted to make sure that every student would have a discount rate and an opportunity to attend.”

Rising College senior Annie Norbitz, who attended the event, said that Obama’s remarks were “really very inspiring” and similar to the rhetoric he used in his 2008 campaign speeches. Obama’s “short” and “optimistic” speech was also humorous, and he cracked a joke about his gray hair, she added.

Afterward, Philadelphia culinary classics — such as Philly Pretzels, water ice and cheesesteaks — were served to the guests, who included Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

“We are really excited that he’s in our home city,” rising College senior and Penn Dems Legislative Director Emma Ellman-Golan said. “This is a battleground state.”

“[Obama] has always had the support of young voters,” Ellman-Golan added. “He has always been on the side of young people and their basic needs.”

After leaving the Hyatt, Obama traveled to Mount Airy to the home of Cohen, who serves as Chairman of the Penn Board of Trustees. A crowd of supporters chanted “yes, we can” as it waited to see Obama, who waved as he left.

“The positive feedback we’ve received reflects that students are just as excited about Obama as they were in 2008, and that Penn is very committed to Obama’s reelection in 2012,” Brown wrote. “It’s great to have the president back in Philadelphia again, and we look forward to continuing to promote a campaign that really reflects the interests of Penn students on issues across the board.”

Obama’s presence in Philadelphia prompted several organizations to hold a peaceful vigil to urge him to help the immigrant community.

The organizations included DreamActivist Pennsylvania, New Sanctuary Movement and One Love, which are all focused on immigration reform.

Convening outside the Hyatt, they called on Obama, among other things, to grant deferred action to DREAM Act-eligible young people — that is, not deport undocumented student immigrants who attend college or enlist in the military.

The Obama administration is sympathetic to the goals of the DREAM Act.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke in a testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security two weeks ago. “The DREAM Act is a common-sense piece of legislation that is in keeping with core American values. It will open the doors of higher education to those individuals who were brought to American by their parents as undocumented children. And in the process we will sustain our economic competitiveness into the future,” she said.

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