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Obama San Francisco Fundraiser Addresses GOP Relationship: 'We Can't Have Perpetual Campaigns'

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By Jeff Mason

SAN FRANCISCO, April 3 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama used a set of fundraisers on Wednesday to assuage supporters' concerns about a controversial pipeline and his commitment to climate change, while urging them to drive Republicans out of power in Congress in 2014.

The Obama administration is expected to decide later this year whether to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Canada's oil sands to Texas. Environmentalists oppose the project, saying its carbon emissions would contribute to global warming. Supporters say the pipeline is necessary to increase U.S. energy independence.

On a fundraising swing to boost Democrats' chances of winning back the House of Representatives, Obama highlighted his administration's achievements and pledged to work with Republicans. But climate change was clearly on his mind.

"Despite a very aggressive agenda on the other side to block action, we've been able to double fuel-efficiency standards on cars, we've been able to take mercury out of our air, we have been able to reduce carbon emissions in this country," he said at the first of two fundraisers on Wednesday night.

That fundraiser, a cocktail reception priced at $5,000 a person, was held at the home of billionaire former asset manager Tom Steyer, an ardent opponent of the pipeline project.

Obama did not mention Keystone, but came back repeatedly to the topic of global warming, calling it one of the biggest challenges the world faced.

He also told donors he expected Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, would become the chamber's top official again in the future.

To make that happen, Democrats must take control of the House by wining 17 seats in 2014. The fundraising trip to California was meant to help that effort by filling Democratic coffers.

Obama is trying to get Republican support for key policy priorities including immigration reform and deficit reduction in Washington. His broad comments - which were not especially critical of the opposing party - appeared to be designed not to antagonize negotiating partners on Capitol Hill.

"My intention here is to try to get as much done with the Republican Party over the next two years as I can, 'cause we can't have perpetual campaigns," he said.

But in the same set of remarks, he urged Democrats to do everything they could to help Pelosi take back power from Republican John Boehner, the current speaker of the House of Representatives.

"I expect that she is going to be once again speaker of the House," Obama said of the California Democrat. (Editing by Peter Cooney)

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