Chicago Sun-Times
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September 2012 Archives

The first presidential debate starts at 8 p.m. Chicago time on Wednesday and will be televised on broadcast and cable networks--livestreamed and social media-ized. So take your pick on how you want to see it. For your planning, here are the dates and places of the match-ups:

First presidential debate:

Wednesday, October 3
University of Denver, Denver, CO
Domestic issues

Vice presidential debate:
Thursday, October 11
Centre College, Danville, KY
Domestic and foreign issues

Second presidential debate (town meeting format):

Tuesday, October 16
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Third presidential debate:
Monday, October 22
Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL
Foreign issues

RNCC's cash infusion a sign Joe Walsh is still in the game

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Though Democratic insiders have written off Tea Party incumbent Joe Walsh in his 8th congressional race against Tammy Duckworth, the Republicans haven't.

In fact, they have set aside more than $457,800 to keep that race competitive. At least one political operative said that kind of cash infusion is a sign that the Republicans believe the race is closer than the public thinks.

The Republican National Campaign Committee's commitment is besides an infusion from two SuperPacs -- Now or Never and Freedom Works -- which gave Walsh more than $1 milliion in the last week.

That immediately drew criticism from the Duckworth campaign.
"They want to make this election into a Tea Party crusade that will hurt working families," the campaign said in a statement.

In an interview with the Sun-Times this week, Walsh encouraged voters to look at where he personally raises his money versus his Democratic challenger.
"Neither one of us by law can control or have anything to do with that," Walsh said of the SuperPac money. "Almost all of the money that I raise comes from the district."
He accused Duckworth of spending too much time outside of the district and raising huge percentages of campaign cash from California and New York.
"She spends most of her time traveling the country, raising money," Walsh said.

The two are scheduled to square off in a debate on October 9.
WCPT - AM & FM and AM 560 WIND
This debate will be held at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows and will be open to residents of the 8th district.
WTTW's Chicago Tonight will hold another debate on October 18.

Source: Paul Ryan Chicago fund-raiser moved

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A source tells the Chicago Sun-Times that there's a new date -- and place -- for the early October fund-raiser for GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

The new date, according to the source, is Oct. 7 instead of Oct 5th.

It's been moved from downtown to the Hyatt by the airport at 11:30 a.m.

Presumably, that's so Ryan can fly in, do an event and get out again.

Fund-raiser still costs $2,500 to $75,800.

This is one you likely won't see from Mitt Romney.

Samuel L. Jackson stars in a short film, "Wake the F--k up," supporting the Obama campaign and urging people to vote, preferably for the president.

The ad, paid for by the Jewish Council for Education and Research - Alexander Soros' Super PAC that brought you Sarah Silverman's equally NSFW voter fraud spot, was written by Adam Mansbach, who also penned a hit children's book for adults called "Go the F--k to Sleep."

And Jackson, as he is know for in his films, drops plenty of F-bombs. So it's plenty not safe for work. See it after the jump.


Office of the First Lady

For Immediate Release September 27, 2012



Harpo Studios

Chicago, Illinois

5:47 P.M. CDT

MRS. OBAMA: Chicago! I'm home! (Applause.) Oh, you guys, thank you. Rest yourselves! We're at Harpo! (Applause.) Oh my goodness, let me just tell you, I'm home because I was in the back having some Italian fiesta pizza. (Applause.) And of course they put Garrett popcorn in my car. (Applause.) It's just wrong. (Laughter.) Just wrong. But it reminds me that I'm home, and I am thrilled to be here with all of you. Really, I am so thrilled. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

I want to start by thanking a few people -- some who are still here, some had to go. I know that our dear friend, Senator Durbin, was here along with Congresswoman Schakowsky, Jan, my girl. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thanks for coming. Thank you for bringing your friends and supporters. Thank you for your leadership and service for the great state of Illinois and for our country. We are so grateful. They have just been just dear, dear friends.

And of course, I want to recognize all of our event hosts who helped to make this an oversold, over-packed, outrageously successful event today. Thank you to all our friends and supporters. Well done. Well done! (Applause.)

But most of all, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to be here today, and for being so enthusiastic. I know you all are pretty fired up and ready to go. I know that. I know that! (Applause.) And I have to tell you that I'm feeling pretty fired up and ready to go myself. (Laughter.)

Because being here with all of you today is not just about being home again, but it's also about getting the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite things. I get to talk with you about the man I have loved and admired since I first met him 23 years ago. (Applause.)

See, everybody talks about how wonderful the convention speech was, but I tell people, I had good material to work with -- (laughter) -- good material. Now, what I've been sharing with people is back when I first met Barack, he had everything going for him. He was handsome -- still is. (Laughter.) He was definitely charming, talented, and as many of our friends know, very, very smart, right?

But that's not why I married him. What truly made me fall in love with my husband was his character. It was his decency and honesty, that compassion and conviction that he has always had. I loved that Barack was so committed to serving others that he turned down high-paying jobs and instead started his career fighting to get folks back to work in struggling communities.

And I loved that Barack was so devoted to his family, especially the women in his life -- you hear that, fellas? (Laughter.) I saw the respect he had for his mother. I saw how proud he was that she put herself through school while supporting him and his sister as a single mother. I saw the tenderness he felt for his grandmother. I saw how grateful he was that long after she should have retired, she was still waking up every morning and catching that bus to her job at the community bank, doing everything she could to help support his family.

And, yes, he watched as she was passed over for promotions simply because she was a woman. But he saw how she kept getting up, kept doing that same job year after year, without complaint, without regret.

See, with Barack, I found a real connection because in his life story, I saw so much of my own. As you all know, growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I watched my father -- (applause) -- yes, South Side! South Side! (Applause.)


MRS. OBAMA: South Side. (Laughter.) But I watched my father make that same uncomplaining journey every day to his job at the city water plant just right up the way. And I saw how he carried himself with that same dignity, that same pride in providing in his family, that same hope that his kids would one day have opportunities he never dreamed of. So many of us have people like that in our lives, don't we?

Like so many families in this country, our families weren't asking for much. They didn't want much. They didn't begrudge anyone else's success, and they didn't mind if others had much more than they did. In fact, they admired it. That's why they pushed us. They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.

And they believed that when you've worked hard and done well, and you've walked through that doorway of opportunity, you don't slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed. (Applause.)

And that's how Barack and I and so many of you were raised. Those are the values that we were taught. We learned that how hard you work matters more than how much you make. We learned that the truth matters -- so you don't take shortcuts, you don't game the system, you don't play by your own set of rules. We learned that no one gets where they are on their own, that each of us has a community of people lifting us up every day -- from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean. (Applause.)

And we were all taught, especially if you're from here, that you value everyone's contribution. You treat everyone with respect. Absolutely. (Applause.) We learned about citizenship and service -- that we're all a part of something bigger than ourselves; that with our freedoms come obligations, and with our blessings come a duty to give back to others who have less.

These are the values that make Barack -- (applause) -- oh, yes -- such an extraordinary husband to me, such a phenomenal father to our girls. But, see, Barack's values matter to me not just as a wife and as a mother, but also as a First Lady, also as a citizen who has seen up close and personal what being President really looks like, and just how critical -- how critical those values are for leading this country.

See, over the past three and a half years, I have seen how the issues that come across a President's desk, they're always the hard ones -- the decisions that aren't just about the bottom line, but they're about laying a foundation for the next generation. And I've seen how important it is to have a President who doesn't just tell us what we want to hear, but who tells us the truth -- even when it's hard; especially when it's hard. (Applause.)

And I've seen that when it comes times to make those tough calls, when everyone's urging you to do what's easy, what polls best, what gets good headlines -- see, as President, you must be driven by the struggles, hopes and dreams of all the people you serve. (Applause.) As President, you've got to have a strong inner compass, a core commitment to your fellow citizens. That's how you make the right decisions for this country. That's what it takes to be a leader.

And let me tell you something, since the day he took office, on issue after issue, crisis after crisis, that's exactly what we've seen in my husband. We have seen his values at work. Let me tell you, we have seen his vision unfold. We have seen the depths of his character, courage and conviction -- we've seen it.

I mean, think back to when Barack first took office. You all were there. Many of you were there with us. (Applause.) But after that wonderful Inauguration Day, our economy was on the brink of collapse. Newspapers were using words like "meltdown," "calamity;" declaring "Wall street implodes," "Economy in Shock." For years, folks had been lured into buying homes they couldn't afford. Their mortgages were underwater. Banks weren't lending, companies weren't hiring. The auto industry was in crisis.

And this economy -- this one -- was losing 800,000 jobs every single month. And a lot of folks wondered whether we were headed for another Great Depression. All right, you hear me? And this is what faced Barack on day one as President. This is what awaited him. (Applause.)

But instead of pointing fingers, instead of placing blame, your President got to work because he was thinking about folks like my dad. He was thinking about folks like his grandmother. (Applause.)

And that's why he cracked down on lending abuses, so that today, when you apply for a mortgage or a credit card, you know exactly what you're getting into. That's why he cut taxes for small businesses and for working families -- because he believes that in America, teachers and firefighters should not pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires. Not in America. (Applause.)

He got the auto industry back on its feet -- (applause) -- and today, new cars are rolling off the line at proud American companies like GM.

And yes, while we still have a long way to go to rebuild our economy, we have had 30 straight months of private sector job growth -- a total of 5.1 million new jobs. Did you hear me -- 5.1 million new jobs under this administration -- good jobs, right here in the United States of America. That's where we are under this President.

And when it comes to the health of our families, see, Barack didn't care whether health reform was the easy thing to do politically, because that's not who he is. He cared that it was the right thing to do. (Applause.) And thankfully, today, because of that reform he fought for, our parents and grandparents on Medicare are paying hundreds less for their prescription drugs. Our kids can stay on our insurance until they're 26 years old thanks to health reform. (Applause.)

Insurance companies now have to cover basic preventative care -- things like contraception, cancer screenings, with no out-of-pocket cost. (Applause.) They won't be able to discriminate against you because you have a preexisting condition like diabetes or even asthma.

And here's one that really gets me: that if you get a serious illness -- let's say breast cancer -- and you need expensive treatment, they can no longer tell you, sorry, you've hit your lifetime limit and we're not paying a penny more. That is now illegal because of health reform -- today. (Applause.)

And when it comes to giving our kids the education they deserve, Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, he never, never could have attended college without financial aid. Never. In fact, what I shared at the convention is that our combined student monthly loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. I know there are people here who can relate to that. (Applause.)

So when it comes to student debt, see, Barack and I, we've been there. This is not a hypothetical. That is why Barack doubled funding for Pell grants. That's why he fought so hard to keep interest rates down. (Applause.) Because, fortunately, we have a President who wants all of our young people to have the skills they need for the jobs of the future -- good jobs they can raise a family on; jobs that drive our economy -- will drive it for decades to come.

And finally, when it comes to standing up for the lives of women, when it comes to standing up for our rights and responsibilities -- (applause) -- we know that my husband will always have our backs -- always. (Applause.) Because, see, Barack knows from personal experience what it means for a family when women aren't treated fairly in the workplace. He knows what it means when women struggle to meet the demands of their jobs and the needs of their families. And today, believe me, as a father, he knows what it means to want our daughters to have the same freedoms and opportunities as our sons. (Applause.)

And that is why the very first bill he signed as President was to help get -- women get equal pay for equal work -- the very first thing he did as President. (Applause.) And that is why he will always, always fight to ensure that women -- that we can make our own decisions about our bodies and our health care. That's what my husband stands for. (Applause.)

So when people ask you what this President has done for our country, when you're running into folks who are still deciding who is the best person to keep this country moving forward for four more years, see, here is what I want you to tell them. Just a few things. I want you to tell them about the millions of jobs Barack has created. I want you to tell them about health reform that he passed. I want you to tell them about all those kids today who can finally afford college.

I want you to tell them that Barack ended the war in Iraq. Tell them how we took out Osama bin Laden. (Applause.) Tell them how Barack fought to get veterans and military families the benefits they've earned. (Applause.)

Tell them about young immigrants brought to America through no fault of their own, who will no longer be deported from the only country they've ever called home. Tell them about that. (Applause.)

Tell them how brave men and women in uniform will never again have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love. (Applause.)

I could go on and on and on. But here is something else: Tell them that Barack Obama knows the American Dream because he's lived it. (Applause.) And he is fighting every day so that everyone in this country can have that same opportunity no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love. (Applause.)

But let's be clear: While he is very proud of what we've all achieved together, trust me, my husband is nowhere near satisfied. See, Barack knows that too many folks are still struggling. He knows there's plenty of work left to be done. And it's going to take a lot longer than four years to rebuild an economy from the brink of collapse. That's what President Clinton said. (Applause.)

But since he took office, let me tell you what I know for sure -- since we're here at Harpo. (Laughter.) Barack has been fighting for us. He has been struggling with us. See, and together, slowly but surely, we have been pulling ourselves out of that hole that we started in. For three and a half years, we have been moving forward and making progress, and we are beginning to see that change we all can believe in.

So we have to step back and ask ourselves, are we going to turn around and go back to the same policies that got us into this hole in the first place?


MRS. OBAMA: Are we going to just sit back and watch everything we've worked for and fought for to just slip away?


MRS. OBAMA: What are we going to do? Or are we going to keep moving this country forward?

But in the end, what we have to understand is that the answer to these questions is on us. In the end, it's up to us. Because what we have to understand is that all of our hard work, all this wonderful progress that we've made, it's all on the line. It's all at stake this November. It can all be gone.

And as my husband has said, this election will be even closer than the last one. That is the only guarantee you're going to get. And it could all come down to what happens in just a few key battleground states like Iowa or Wisconsin.

And I've been trying to put this in perspective for folks as I travel around, because I want you to think back to what happened in 2008. Back then, we won Iowa by about 147,000 votes, okay? So, now, that might sound like a lot, but when you break it down, that's just 87 votes per precinct in that state. Do you hear? Eighty-seven votes, all right? And if you look at North Carolina, we won that by 14,000 votes. That's just five votes per precinct.

So that could mean just a couple of votes in a neighborhood, right? That's just a couple of votes in somebody's apartment building. So if there is anyone here or anyone you know who is sitting back thinking that their vote doesn't count, that their involvement doesn't matter, that in this complex political process that ordinary folks can't possibly make a difference, I want you to think about that 87. I want you to think about that five. Just think about that.

I want you to think about how with just a few evenings on a phone bank, with just a few hours knocking on doors -- young folks, a few of you right here in this room could swing an entire precinct for Barack Obama. And if we win enough precincts, we will win those battleground states. And we will win enough of those states -- we'll put Barack back in the White House for four more years. It doesn't take much. (Applause.)

Look at this room -- the power of this room. We take this energy, and from now until November, if everybody in this room and in all the rooms that I'm going to talk to between now and November the 6th, if everybody in all those rooms, every single day you work like you've never worked before -- yeah, we need you to do that. We need you to find one of our volunteers who is here today. You can start today, before you leave. They have clipboards. They will find you. (Laughter.) But look for them.

And if you haven't already done it, we need you to sign up with them. Sign up to make phone calls, because you can call into a battleground state from your own home. We need you to pack your bags, go to Iowa, go to Wisconsin. I know there are a lot of you -- there are folks here from Ohio today. That's another battleground state. We need you to go to those states and help get the vote out. (Applause.)


MRS. OBAMA: Go, Buckeyes. (Laughter.)

And more importantly, we want you to talk to everyone you know. Don't underestimate that. Talk to your friends, your neighbors, that nephew you haven't seen in a while. You know he's not registered. (Laughter.) That high school classmate you haven't spoken to in years -- talk to him. You never know the power of a good conversation, what that can do. Tell them what's at stake.

Remind them of all these things that this President has accomplished in such a short period of time. Make sure they're registered. Don't assume. People have to be registered to vote, especially if they've just moved. Or maybe they're a student away at college -- any students, parents of students, are they registered? Did they change their address? What are they doing? Are they awake? Go find them. Talk to them. (Laughter.) Make sure they're ready.

And for young people who have never voted before, anyone who has never voted before, you've got to register. You can't just show up on Election Day and go, I'm ready! Fired up! They will send you home. (Laughter.)

And once folks are registered and you've done that work, you've had those conversations, then make sure they get to the polls on November the 6th. Make sure they cast their ballot on Election Day. And if they don't know where to go, as you were told, or what to do, just send them to one of the many websites --, Very easy -- those sites work. Have young people get on those -- click, they register early, they vote early; they do everything on a computer now. That's where they can find everything they need to make their voices heard on November the 6th.

And I'm going to be honest. I always am. I try to be honest with you, don't I? (Applause.) We don't take anything for granted. This journey is going to be hard, and these next days are going to be long. Oh, gosh, 41 [40] days is just ticking by. (Laughter.)

But here's the thing. As you work, and when you get tired -- and you will; when you start to think about taking some time off -- and you will, I just want you to remember that what we do for the next 40 days will absolutely make the difference between waking up on November the 7th, the day after Election Day, and wondering, "Could I have done more?", or feeling the promise of four more years. That's the difference. (Applause.)

So from now until the November the 6th, we need you to keep on working and struggling and pushing forward, because here is the thing -- that is how change always happens in this country. I say that everywhere I go. I remind people that's how change always happens. But if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right -- see, the thing is, especially for our young people to understand, we eventually get there. We always do. In this country, we have always moved forward. Always. (Applause.) But here's the trick: Maybe not in our lifetimes, but maybe in our children's lifetimes, maybe in our grandchildren's lifetimes.

Because in the end, that's what this is about. Let us not forget that is what elections are always about. Don't let anyone tell you any differently. Elections are always about hope. (Applause.)

It's like the hope I saw on my dad's face as I crossed that stage to get my college diploma. The hope of Barack's grandmother that she felt when she cast her ballot for the grandson she loved and raised. (Applause.) The hope of all those men and women in our lives who worked that extra shift for us, who saved and sacrificed and prayed so that we could have something a little more. The hope that so many of us feel when we look into the eyes of our children and our grandchildren.

That is why all of us are here today -- because we are doing this for our kids. We want all of our kids to have a foundation for their dream. (Applause.) We want to give all our kids opportunities worthy of their promise, because every single one of our children in this country, they're worthy. We want to give our kids that sense of limitless possibility -- that belief that here in the greatest country on the planet, there is always something better out there if you're willing to work for it.

So here's what I tell myself when I get tired: We cannot turn back now. Not now. We have come so far, but we have so much more work to do.

So are you all ready for this? (Applause.) Are you all fired up? (Applause.) Are you all ready to go? (Applause.) Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get on the phone? Shake that nephew? Get folks registered to vote? I'm going to be working every single day until November the 6th. I need you all with us every step of the way.

Thank you all. Love you so much. God bless you. Let's get it done. (Applause.)

END 6:16 P.M. CDT

Michelle Obama visited her hometown today to raise money at a pair of fund-raising events including one at Harpo Studios and another at the home of a Democratic mega donor.
The First Lady began her day at NBC Tower to tape the Steve Harvey Show, which is to air next Wednesday.
At the two fund-raisers, tickets started at $250.
At Harpo Studios, Mrs. Obama defended her husband's administration, saying he helped create jobs at a time when the threat of depression loomed.
"Barack has been fighting for us. He has been struggling with us," she said. "See, and together, slowly but surely we have been pulling ourselves out of that hole that we started in. For three-and-a-half years we've been moving forward and making progress and we're beginning to see that change we all can believe in."
"Like so many families in this country, our families weren't asking for much. They didn't want much. They didn't begrudge anyone else's success. They didn't mind if others had much more than they did. In fact, they admired it. That's why they pushed us," she said. "They simply believe in that fundamental American promise that even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids. And they believe that when you've worked hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you don't slam it shut behind you. You know, you reach back and give other folks the same chance."

Michelle's in town. Mrs. Obama hits two Chicago fundraisers

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Hoping to give an energey -- and money -- boost to her husband, First Lady Michelle Obama is in her hometown tonight hitting Chicago for two fund-raisers.

"First Lady Michelle Obama will attend two fundraising receptions in Chicago. The first reception will be at Harpo Studios and the second will be at a private residence," said a campaign official.

"Tickets for both events start at $250 and will benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties. These events will be print pooled only."

Her opponent has criticized her "hero" status, saying all she talks about is her military service. But Tammy Duckworth's latest TV ad doesn't show her in military uniform.

The double amputee, maimed in combat, is shown training on her bicycle. The ad says she is willing to "go the extra mile to create an economy that rewards hard-work and responsibility."

The ad was a way to convey her past without directly telling the war story that is already familiar to many in the voting public. Duckworth garnered national attention after speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte earlier this month. She dramatically walked onto stage on prosthetics.

"Tammy has never shied away from the responsibility of serving her country," said Campaign Manager Kaitlin Fahey. "This commercial conveys her commitment to getting to work and fighting to improve the lives of working families throughout the 8th District."

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, her opponent, was hitting hard at Duckworth, accusing her of not spending enough time in the district and for raising money in California.

Walsh gave away a trip to California to a donor who wanted to have a "chance to hear Tammy Duckworth in LA."
"Dave will enjoy a round-trip and one night's stay in Los Angeles with the exclusive chance to finally hear Tammy Duckworth in person," a release from Walsh chides.

Greg Harris.jpgState Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago)

SPRINGFIELD-Illinoisans have moved significantly in favor of gay marriage as a new poll released Wednesday showed a 10-percentage point increase in support for it in just two years, with more than four out of 10 voters now favoring the new legal recognition for gays and lesbians.

In its new survey, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found that 43.6 percent of registered voters support giving gays and lesbians the legal right to marry in Illinois.

Two years ago, only 33.6 percent surveyed by the institute favored granting that right.

"The velocity of change has been increasing over the last couple of years," said state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the lead sponsor of legislation that would legalize gay marriages.

"People are saying, 'We need to change our minds on this issue.' It's remarkable," he said. "As you look at the Paul Simon poll, this is not people undecided on the issue. This is people who have always been a 'no' who are now saying, 'I've rethought this, and a 'yes' is where I want to be.'"

The poll showed that 20.2 percent of those surveyed believed no legal recognition should be bestowed on gay or lesbian couples, which represents a drop from two years ago. In 2010, the institute found that 26.5 percent of those surveyed held that belief.

"Look at the last couple of years of popular culture, popular media. 'Modern Family' keeps winning Emmys. Gay characters are out. Anderson Cooper comes out to sort of a collective yawn. People are getting used to the idea. Civil unions have been legalized in Illinois to no obvious deleterious effect," said Charles Leonard, a visiting SIU political professor who coordinates the institute's polling.

Harris introduced legislation last February to legalize same-sex marriages in Illinois, but he put the matter on hold in April, saying big issues like pension reform, Medicaid cuts and budget matters were higher priorities facing the General Assembly.

Harris never divulged how close he was to amassing the 60 House votes necessary to pass a bill, but his roll call clearly was beneath that threshold.

Asked if there is some hope of a vote during a possible lame-duck legislative session in January given the new polling, Harris would only say, "I never say never, and I never make predictions. I think the situation is really, really fluid."

Harris was a driving force behind the legalization of civil unions in Illinois, and that initiative passed during the January 2011 lame-duck session.

Those opposed to gay marriage in Illinois discounted the findings in the latest Simon institute poll, saying the results reflected a "push toward acceptance of the gay lifestyle" in pop culture and the media and that the issue isn't high on the priority list for Illinois voters, who are more focused on the economy.

"It's really not on people's radar screens as a public-policy issue. Other issues dwarf it," said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, which opposes gay marriage and fought civil unions.

In its most recent poll, the public policy research arm of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale surveyed 1,261 registered voters in Illinois between Sept. 4 and 10, and the poll has a margin of error or plus or minus 2.77 percent.

Beyond touching on the hot-button gay-marriage issue, this year's emphasis in the university survey was on corruption and ethics in Illinois. Asked if corruption in Illinois government is "widespread," 76.8 percent surveyed answered yes. Fifty-eight percent of those polled also said Illinois has more corruption than other states.


Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan plans an Oct. 5 fund-raiser in Chicago, hoping to match Mitt Romney's haul from his last month visit to Illinois.

In September, Romney hoped to bring in $3 million at a private, pricey event at a private residence in Lake Forest. A source behind the event, however, said Romney raised $4.3 million.

The Lake Forest soiree cost a minimum of $2,500 and up to $75,800 per person.

More details to come on Ryan's event.

Poll: Walsh 14 points behind in race against Duckworth

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Despite having a recent boost from a new SuperPac, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) is trailing in a poll taken in one of the most competitive congressional races in the country. Just 35 percent of those polled in the 8th congressional district said they approved of his work in Congress. By contrast, his opponent, Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat, carried a 50 percent approval rating.

That's according to Public Policy Polling, which published numbers Tuesday saying 54 percent of voters would support Duckworth and 38 percent would support Walsh. Of those polled, 31 percent described themselves as Democrats, 33 percent as Republican and 36 percent as independent or other.

Quinn in Brazil.jpgGov. Pat Quinn meets with business leaders in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a photo distributed by his press office.

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn is nearing the halfway point of his Brazilian trade mission, which he is marking both by a handful of tweets and a flurry of press releases from his office.
But his trip has not yet become big news to the local press in South America's largest country.
The only reference found online in Sao Paulo's daily, Folha de S. Paulo, to Quinn's trip was a two-paragraph mention Sunday about his arrival and planned donation of seven scholarships for the Science Without Borders program, a government-run exchange program that sends Brazilian students abroad.
"During the visit to Brazil of the governor of Illinois (USA), Pat Quinn, who arrives today with 40 entrepreneurs, U.S. companies will announce the donation of seven scholarships for the Science Without Borders program of the federal government," the newspaper reported.
"The state grants total $155,000 (about £ 313,000). Only Motorola Solutions Foundation, philanthropic arm of [the] cellular company, will donate two, U.S. $ 25 000 (about £ 50,000) each," the report concluded.
The newspaper has run several earlier, Illinois-specific wire stories involving Quinn since he has been governor, including a ceremony he attended at Millenium Park that marked the first civil unions in Illinois and his signing of death-penalty legislation.
Meanwhile, Quinn used his Twitter account twice, along with several retweets, to give the folks back home a taste of what he's doing.
Tuesday's dispatch, which included a photo, was this: "@GovernorQuinn Mtg w/ Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo, which represents more than 130 Brazilian biz groups."

President Obama had a busy day. He spoke to the United Nations, addressing a number of issues that are affecting world security and the American presidential political cycle.

He spoke to the Clinton Global Initiative, focusing on human rights and human trafficking concerns.

And, of course, he had to address the most pressing issue affecting the United States - the embarrassing reality that is the replacement referee saga in the National Football League.

After the Seattle Seahawks were gifted a game-winning touchdown as time expired agains the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, the Internet exploded. Social media was awash, targeting the injustice suffered by Packer fans at the hands of poor referee judgement and a league that refuses to step in to correct the problem as the lockout of the regular referees drags on.

Things are so bad in NFL fandom, that even Obama felt the need to speak out with the tweet sent to the @BarackObama feed Tuesday afternoon. Of course, any federal support on the issue would probably go a long way in the swing state of Wisconsin. Seattle is solid blue on the political map anyway.

And, in case you missed it, the play in question:

Labor leader: Ald. Joe Moore is "the new Helen Shiller"

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Over the past decade, the Service Employees International Union became the biggest campaign donor in Illinois, bankrolling candidates for everything from the governor's office to City Council seats.

But in the wake of the bitter Chicago teachers' strike, top SEIU political operative Jerry Morrison expressed regret at having marshaled support for some aldermen and vowed never to back them again.

Twitter addicts abound -- but not in Congress

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It once was a story when politicians did use social media to get their messages across.

But a new report in The Hill focuses on the 56 members of Congress who have not joined Twitter, noting that it's increasingly the go-to place for think tanks, advocacy groups -- and politicians -- to blast out information.

"For now, the holdouts are divided almost equally between the two parties. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) -- part of the over-60 crowd -- is the only Senate Republican still not using Twitter. Risch's office said the senator has not ruled it out.

"He certainly sees the benefit of Twitter as a social medi[um], as demonstrated by the Usain Bolt tweets during the Olympics, but less useful as a policy discussion tool," said spokesman Brad Hoaglun.

Twitter reported 80,000 tweets per minute sent when Bolt won gold in the 200-meter this summer, a social-media record for Olympic-related conversations.

Political interest on Twitter has grown in the past few years, too. Twitter reported that tweets sent about the political conventions this year had sextupled the number sent about both 2008 conventions by the second evening of the Republican National Convention.

Rahm defends ads touting victories earned in teachers strike

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday defended his decision to take, what some political observers view as a victory lap after the seven-day strike by Chicago teachers--by starring in commercials bankrolled by the same group that ripped the teachers before and during the strike.


The Jacksons have been shy about public appearances lately, ever since U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was hospitalized for depression.
Tomorrow night though, 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson -- whose primary residence is in Washington D.C. -- is planning a Chicago fund-raiser, asking for up to $5,000 per person.

One of her husband's political opponents says it is a sign she's interested in higher office.
"She's preparing to run for a higher office called Congressman, it's obvious. That's obvious," said Marcus Lewis, an independent running against Jesse Jackson Jr. "She knows her husband is never coming back. She's asking $5,000 ... donations. She's not doing that to be elected alderman."

Jackson Jr. is facing opposition from three candidates, who have raised questions about his three-month absence from congress. They have accused Jackson Jr. of holding onto a seat he doesn't intend to stay in and instead plans to give to his wife.

Sandi Jackson's campaign did not comment.

Jackson's spokesperson on Sunday told the Chicago Sun-Times that the congressman will remain on the ballot and the other speculation is just that, speculation.

Lewis, of Matteson, said he doesn't hold fund-raisers. Lewis said he wants to go to congress to bring new economic opportunities in the 2nd congressional district. That includes bringing more grants to students and setting up job training for students at major Chicago companies.
"I'll be the poorest person in Washington," Lewis said. "I make $52,000 a year. I'm not going to Washington to get rich."

The State Department blasted CNN this weekend for reporting on the personal journal of slain American ambassador Christopher Stevens.

A State Department spokesman said the news channel wrote an online posting about Stevens' journal after family members to the ambassador objected.

"The journal was found on the floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded," CNN posting said. "A source familiar with Stevens' thinking told CNN earlier this week that, in the months leading up to his death, the late ambassador worried about what he called the security threats in Benghazi and a rise in Islamic extremism."

State Department spokesman Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said CNN broke a pledge to the family that it wouldn't report on the journal and he called the story "indefensible."

From AP: In a statement Saturday, CNN defended its use of the journal's contents and asked "why is the State Department now attacking the messenger."

"CNN did not initially report on the existence of a journal out of respect for the family, but we felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting, which we did," the channel said.

Sen. Marco Rubio tweets a tough American Airlines flight

He was a Republican vice presidential nominee short-lister, a prime speaker at the Republican National Convention, a Daily Show guest and is a rising star in conservative politics. But airlines are the great equalizer in America, as Marco Rubio found out.

Storified by Craig Newman · Fri, Sep 21 2012 18:39:02

#AmericanAirlines #Flight1967 #LAXatron_sefirot
Following is an exchange between Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and American Airlines as the senator waited during flight delays Friday night.
Trying to get to DC for early morning votes tonight but let's just say this has not been the best week in American Airlines history.Marco Rubio
Every American flight I have been on this week has been at least two hours late or cancelled. This one already one hour delayed.Marco Rubio
American Air says maintenance problem.Yet suddenly group of new passengers boarding.Holding plane to get connectors on from delayed flight?Marco Rubio
Delaying flight for "maintenance" to squeeze connectors from other flight, oldest trick in book.Feel bad for crew.#cmonman #AmericanAirlinesMarco Rubio
Since I am going off on #AmericanAirlines tonight, let me say pilots and flight attendants they have are top notch. #nottheirfaultMarco Rubio
Hearing from some about American sick outs. Not on this flight. Pilot member of #teaparty.Marco Rubio
Bankruptcy judge OKs 3 American Air labor ... - Chicago Sun-TimesSep 13, 2012 ... American Airlines will reduce retirement benefits and ease restrictions on outsourcing of flying to other airlines as ...
While there were apparently no sickouts on Sen. Rubio's flight Friday night, the airline has been struggling as pilots protest pay and labor conditions at the struggling air carrier:
American Airlines pilots picket at O'Hare - Chicago Sun-Times1 day ago ... As American Airlines and American Eagle say they will cancel 300 flights nationwide this week to cope with a high number ...
Oh guess what? They fixed the plane! Just as the last of the connecting passengers finished boarding. #magicMarco Rubio
Pilots are two military veterans, lovers of liberty and believers in constitution. They tell me "sickouts" is not true. Airline understaffedMarco Rubio
If the folks running the American Airlines Twitter account realized they were dealing with a U.S. senator, they certainly didn't show it. This is the boilerplate response they handed out through the day for passengers complaining about service and delays.
@marcorubio Thanks for your patience, Marco. We hope you have a great flight.American Airlines
I must now turn of my electronic device. I hope tonight's tirade didn't cost me my Executive Platinum status.Marco Rubio
Pilots reject contract with American Airlines - Chicago Sun-TimesAug 8, 2012 ... Pilots for American Airlines have expressed their anger with management by overwhelmingly rejecting the company's f...

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn is the most globetrotting Illinois governor since at least Jim Thompson.

Rod Blagojevich never went outside the country in his capacity as governor. George Ryan made his celebrated trips to Cuba twice and also to South Africa. And, Jim Edgar went to China, Mexico, the Middle East, India and Europe during his two terms in office.

But in leaving on a trade mission for Brazil this Sunday, Quinn is setting a standard for going abroad.

Since July 2011, the governor has gone on separate trips to Israel, China, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Spain and now Brazil, mostly to talk business, though the Germany trip last Christmas involved visits to U.S. troops from Illinois.

"He's the exporter in chief of Illinois and a key part of his strategy is to promote Illinois around the world," spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. "The governor's efforts have resulted in more tourism and exports for Illinois."

Here's the full list of those accompanying Quinn to Brazil:

annRomney 2012.jpg
Ann Romney campaigns in Leesburg, Va., earlier in September. | AP

Political news site Politico is reporting that Ann Romney, the wife of Republican nominee for president Mitt Romney, is safe after her plane made an emergency landing in Colorado.

Details are developing, but there were reports of smoke in the cabin, forcing the plane to land. there were no injuries to Ann Romney or any other passengers, according to Politico.

Romney campaign press secretary Andrea Saul tweeted details as the incident unfolded:

The cause, according to Saul, was an electrical fire.

Ann Romney was traveling from Nebraska to Los Angeles for a campaign event when the plane was forced to land.

Here the cabin communications from the pilot:

The shrunken and revamped Taste of Chicago will return for another five day engagement in 2013-- complete with a $25 fee for concert seats at the Petrillo bandshell and $40 sit-down meals prepared by a celebrity "chef-du-jour."

No doubt prepping Americans to brace themselves, the Romney campaign released a statement from former IRS commissioner Fred Goldberg on Romney's tax returns, referencing "complexity of our tax laws," saying there was "no indication" that the Romneys took part in "any tax-motivated or aggressive tax planning activities."

The release of the tax returns came on the same week of what is now a famous "47 percent" video, in which Romney is heard in a secretly recorded address to wealthy donors referencing half of Americans, saying they portray themselves as victims and do not pay income taxes.

"I have reviewed Governor and Mrs. Romney's joint tax return for 2011, including returns for the Ann and Mitt Romney Family Trust, the Ann D. Romney Blind Trust, and the W. Mitt Romney Blind Trust. My reaction following this review is the same as my reaction after reviewing the 2010 returns. As I said then:

"These returns reflect the complexity of our tax laws and the types of investment activity that I would anticipate for persons in their circumstances. There is no indication or suggestion of any tax-motivated or aggressive tax planning activities." In my judgment, they have fully satisfied their responsibilities as taxpayers. They have done so by relying on a highly reputable return preparer and other advisors, who have in turn relied primarily on information provided by third parties to them and to the IRS. The end result of that process has been returns that include a multitude of schedules, IRS forms and accompanying statements that provide appropriate transparency and the proper payment of taxes that Governor and Mrs. Romney owe under current law.

Romney to release 2011 taxes after years of criticism

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After suffering through a rough week, highlighted by a leaked video calling half of Americans freeloaders, GOP presidential candidate will make public his 2011 income tax returns, according to a report by Politico.

Politico reports that the returns will be made public 3 p.m. (Eastern)

SPRINGFIELD--After deep-sixing a casino expansion package in August, Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday raised the prospects of another gambling deal taking flight during a lame-duck legislative session in January that could include a Chicago casino and infuse schools with a windfall of new dollars.

"I really feel we will address this issue and hopefully resolve it by the 9th of January, which is the deadline for this session of the General Assembly. I'm very hopeful of that," Quinn told reporters when asked about resurrecting a Chicago casino.

The governor, who vetoed a gambling package sent to him last spring, reiterated his demand that there be specific dollars set aside from any casino expansion package for schools across the state.

"When I vetoed the legislation before, it did not have dedicated, earmarked money for education. I think that's absolutely required, imperative, if we're going to do this. I feel if that's addressed, that certainly will go along way toward getting the job done," the governor said after an event at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

Quinn also renewed his push for a prohibition on campaign contributions from gambling interests, an ethics initiative he said that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has told him "privately" that he agrees with.

For years, speculating on gambling packages is one of the great parlor games in Springfield, though the past two years the General Assembly has gone farther toward expansion than at any point since riverboat casinos were authorized more than two decades ago.

Twice, the House and Senate passed big expansion packages, only to run into a Quinn buzzsaw. The first time, in 2011, the Senate refused to relinquish a bill that passed because of the governor's threatened veto. The second time, this year, Quinn vetoed it.

A lame-duck session potentially starting as early as Jan. 2 also is when Quinn and the Democratic leaders are contemplating passage of a pension-rollback package that stalled last May and again failed to materialize during a one-day August special legislative session that Quinn ordered.

Unlike former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Gov. Pat Quinn has used his powers of executive clemency aggressively, denting the backlog of mercy petitions by granting pardons to 711 criminals.

Ald. Moreno unimpressed by ward's high hipster-haven ranking

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Ald. Proco Joe Moreno's efforts to repel the "hipster alderman" label took a hit Thursday when Wicker Park came in at No. 4 on a list of the nation's "hippest hipster neighborhoods."

Illinois congressional race top 10 in money raised nationwide

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When it comes to raising money, the 10th congressional district race notches among the top 10 highest in the nation. ranked the 10th congressional district contest as the 10th highest in the nation with candidates raising more than $5.5 million.

Incumbent Bob Dold, a Republican has raised $2.8 million and spent $844,000, according to the site.
His challenger, Brad Schneider, a Democrat, raised $1.6 million.

The 10th district -- Mark Kirk's old district -- encompasses the northeast corner of the state, including the North Shore.

Campaign opponents of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. have been relentless when it comes to Jackson's reasons for the congressman's three-month leave of absence.

On Thursday -- a day after news broke that the Jacksons were selling their Washington D.C. home for $2.5 million-- the chorus continued. Jackson blamed "soaring health care costs" as the reason for putting their house on the market. His opponents, though, still raised questions about that reasoning.

"Other public servants such as Bobby Rush, Mark Kirk, Gabby (Giffords) did not have to sell their homes due to mounting health care bills," said write-in opponent Anthony W. Williams."Congress people have the best health care coverage in the world. Once again, Jackson is lying."

Congresspeople are known to have the best health care around, however, it was unclear what plan Jackson is under and much mental health care was covered.

Jackson was released from the Mayo Clinic earlier this month after being treated for bipolar depression.

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn will leave Sunday for a six-day trade mission to Brazil to "strengthen Illinois exports, foster education and boost tourism," the governor's office announced Thursday.

Quinn is the first Illinois governor to embark on such a trip to the South American country, with whom Illinois exported $2.55 billion in goods last year. Among all states, Illinois is the fourth largest exporter to Brazil.

The governor will make stops in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Recife.

"Brazil's strong economy and expanding middle class make the country an important market for Illinois," Quinn said in a prepared statement. "We are bringing together leaders from business, government and education to create and develop the relationships that will help economic growth in Illinois."

Jacksons took $400,000 loan against the home for sale

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Sandi and Jesse Jackson Jr., who live in Washington D.C., took a $400,000 loan against their home two years ago.

The couple has put their four-bedroom, five-fireplace home up for sale at $2.5 million, raising questions again over how the two spend so much time outside the districts -- and the state -- while acting as public officials here.

To read more: Click here

SPRINGFIELD-A law requiring that parents be notified if their minor children are seeking abortions has been on Illinois books for 17 years but never implemented.

On Thursday, the state's highest court will begin deciding if that should change.

Both sides in the long-running dispute over Illinois' parental notification abortion law will make their cases before the state Supreme Court.

Abortion-rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, are coming off a legal victory last summer, when a state appeals court reversed a Cook County judge's ruling to lift a restraining order on the 1995 law.

The appeals court ruling is being challenged Thursday by the state's pro-choice attorney general, Lisa Madigan.

"A long line of court decisions have held that parental notice statutes are constitutional," Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said.

"The attorney general is pro-choice. But as attorney general, she takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. And based on the clear court decisions upholding these statutes, the Illinois law is constitutional," Bauer said.

Abortion-rights advocates turned to the state courts after a federal appeals panel ruled in August 2009 that the Illinois law did not run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. But after that, a Cook County circuit judge refused to permit the lawsuit since the federal courts already had weighed in, prompting the ACLU appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court.

The June 2011 state appeals court ruling reversed the circuit court decision that lifted a restraining order barring implementation of the law, which was a GOP legislative centerpiece when Republicans last controlled both the Legislature and governor's office in the mid-1990s.

"As the circuit court noted earlier in this case, this law poses real harm to some young women facing an unplanned pregnancy," said Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU of Illinois Reproductive Rights Project who will present the oral argument on Thursday. "Forced parental notification will cause some young women to suffer physical and mental abuse, be kicked out of their home or forced to carry the pregnancy to term against their will."

Under the law, doctors would have to notify parents or legal guardians of girls 17 and younger at least two full days before performing an abortion on them. A judge could sidestep the requirement if a girl comes from an abusive home or has other extenuating circumstances in which a parent or guardian could not be notified.

In 2011, the most recent date for which the state has published abortion data, 2,359 girls 17 and younger obtained abortions in Illinois and would have been affected by the law had it been in effect, state records show.

Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years should trigger a debate about whether or not teachers should be allowed to strike, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's City Council floor leader said Wednesday.

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn shifted blame Wednesday over potential DCFS layoffs to AFSCME and the General Assembly, criticizing them both for fighting his plan to close prisons and divert $57 million in savings from those closures to the child-welfare agency to stave off job cuts.
"We want to protect abused and neglected children, but the General Assembly and the union wanted to keep facilities open in different parts of Illinois, such as prisons and other facliitiles that in some cases were half empty or totally empty," Quinn told reporters in Chicago, where the union staged a protest over the possible DCFS layoffs. "I thought that was a very poor expenditure of money."
In late June, Quinn stripped out funds that lawmakers included in the budget to keep prisons in Downstate Tamms and Dwight open, along with juvenile detention centers in Joliet and Downstate Murphysboro.
During their fall veto session, which begins Nov. 27, the House and Senate will vote to approve those changes or, more likely, override Quinn's spending reductions.
"The only time we'll be able to deal with this is when the Legislature comes back in session, and we hope to get the Legislature to restore the money to the Department of Children and Family Services for the children," he said. "I think children are far more important than keeping half-empty facilities open. I think it's much better to help people than keep half-empty facilities open."


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From Rick Bryant:

"Like millions of Americans, Congressman Jackson and Mrs. Jackson are grappling with soaring healthcare costs and are selling their residence to help defray costs of their obligations. The Congressman would like to personally thank everyone who has offered prayers on behalf of his family."

Chicago's seven-day teachers strike "had the potential to really create a crisis" in the city and should have been avoided, the City Council's most powerful alderman said Wednesday.

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday rejected as "baloney" GOP criticism this week about the slow speed at which his administration is enacting Medicaid cuts.
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Lemont) questioned whether the governor was deliberately delaying the removal of as many as 300,000 ineligible Medicaid recipients from the state dole to avoid alienating those potential Democrat voters at election time.
"That's complete baloney, and she knows it," Quinn said in Chicago, referring to Radogno, "and the Republicans know it."
The GOP leaders said "scrubbing" the Medicaid rolls could result in savings of as much as $350 million during this budget year but questioned how those savings could be realized if the process doesn't fully get underway until January as the Quinn administration proposes.
Top Quinn aides previously branded Monday's partisan attack as "100-percent false" and said the Department of Healthcare and Human Services acted within the required 90-day timeframe after Quinn signed the Medicaid cuts into law to hire a company to oversee the eligibility-screening effort.
Last Thursday, the state hired Reston, Va.-based Maximus Health Services in a two-year, $76 million deal.
"We're going at full speed. We don't want anyone on the rolls that isn't qualified or eligible for the Medicaid program. But in order to carry this out, you have to properly follow the contract rules, the procurement rules of Illinois, [and] make sure the people are well trained so they do their job right," Quinn said.
"They know this. This is all politics," the governor continued, ratcheting up criticism at his GOP critics. "We're about seven weeks away from the election. That's what they're doing . It's all politics. They know full well that Pat Quinn, the governor of Illinois, is ferreting out fraud and waste anywhere he sees it in state government."

Reporting with Fran Spielman

With Jesse Jackson Jr.'s political future increasingly in question, possible contenders are already circling.

And that's besides the formal candidates already running against Jackson on Nov. 6 -- independent Marcus Lewis, Republican Brian Woodworth and write-in candidate Anthony W. Williams.

"Jackson is finished as a congressman," Lewis declared earlier this week -- even before news broke that the Jacksons had put their Washington D.C. home up for sale.

If Jackson Jr. were to bow out before the fall election, it would be up to the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, Joe Berrios, to decide who to slate on the ballot.

Reached on Wednesday, Berrios said he didn't know what to make of the Jacksons selling their D.C. house.

Berrios has had no conversations with either member of the couple about the congressman stepping down.

"She has not talked to me about it," Berrios said.

Sources say that if Jackson were to get off the ballot, there's an expectation that candidates will "come out of the woodwork" to replace him.

Ald. Sandi Jackson, however, "does not have the inside track on it," sources said.

Already, there are people who have expressed interest in replacing Jackson, including Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), state Sen. Kwame Raoul and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's chief of staff, Kurt Summers, who was also chief of staff to Chicago 2016 President Lori Healey until Chicago's first-round flame-out in the Olympic sweepstakes.

jesse jackson d.c. home.jpg

jesse jackson dc home 2.jpg
The Jackson home in Washington D.C. Exterior (Kia parked in front of Jackson townhouse).
(photos by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--The Washington D.C. home of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is for sale, according to several local real estate listings. The asking price for the red brick Victorian row house, just off DuPont Circle, is $2.5 million.

The sale comes as Jackson is recovering from bipolar depression--we're told at this home--that has forced his absence from Congress since mid-June and treatment at the Mayo Clinic and a facility in Arizona.

While the official residence for the Jackson family is on Chicago's South Side, their home here is a family base for their two children, who attend a private school here.

When Jackson will surface remains an open question. He remains on the November ballot and faces only nominal opposition in a heavily Democratic district.

I talked Tuesday to Jackson Washington spokesman Frank Watkins--to check out talk that Jackson may appear at upcoming Congressional Black Caucus annual conference events--and was told that was unlikely.

I dropped by the house on Sunday and had a very, very brief chat with the mother of Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) who said neither the congressman or the alderman were home when I was there. There was an Impala with D.C. plates in the driveway and a car with Illinois plates--and a member of Congress tag--in the garage.

The home is on a gorgeous block. According to the listings, the home was built in 1921, has 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 2 half baths, is on 5 levels, two kitchns and a roof top with jacuzzi. and 2,936 square feet. The Zillow estimate is different from the asking price: $1,445,800.

Check out listings:

The sale was reported first Wednesday morning by Lauren Victoria Burke's Crew of 42 blog, which was picked up in The Hill.

Obama blasts Romney's '47 percent' video on Letterman

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In an appearance on David Letterman Tuesday night, President Obama blasted Mitt Romney's "47 percent video," saying "you've got to work for everybody, not just some."

Capitalizing on perhaps the GOP presidential candidate's weakest point in the campaign, Obama cast Romney as divisive and only interested in his own wealthy backers.

"What I said on election night was: 'even though you didn't vote for me, I hear your voices and I'm going to work as hard as I can to be your president," Obama said on CBS's "Late Show With David Letterman. "What I said on election night was even though you didn't vote for me, I hear your voices and I'm going to work as hard as I can to be your president."
When I meet Republicans. They are hard-working, family people, who care deeply about this country."

Obama won applause from the studio audience when he said:

"One of the things I've learned as president is you represent the entire country."

"My expectation is if you want to be president, you've got to work for everybody, not just for some."

Romney on Tuesday was still reeling after a leaked video from a private campaign fund-raiser showed him calling 47 percent of Americans entitled and saying that as president: "my job is not to worry about those people."

The video, which first appeared on the Mother Jones Web site Monday, lit up the blogosphere, setting Romney back from his attempt to show that he is not an out-of-touch millionaire.

"Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax," Romney said at the May fund-raiser. Romney said in the video that his role "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Obama said that in 2008, it was his Republican opponent John McCain who won only 47 percent of the vote. Obama went on to win the presidency.

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Clint Eastwood is talking again - but not to a chair this time.

The Hollywood tough guy icon told the entertainment TV show "Extra" - he starts at the 1:55 point if you want to fast forward - that his stint at the Republican National Convention and his much-discussed chair conversation with Invisible Obama was a case of you get what you get.

"If somebody's dumb enough to ask me to go to a political convention and say something, they're gonna have to take what they get."

Eastwood also said he'd probably do it again. If asked. So hold on to your chair for another four years.

Gov. Mitt Romney joined Fox' Neil Cavuto to discuss the maelstrom swirling around his "47 percent" video and the fallout Tuesday.

Recording via Reuters' Matthew Keys.

Mother Jones releases full Romney 47 percent video

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Mother Jones has posted two videos online, calling them unedited videos of what has become an explosive set of remarks GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered at a private campaign function earlier this year.

From the Mother Jones post:

Romney is not the only one who has called for the release of the full 49-minute video. And we're more than happy to oblige. The complete video demonstrates that Romney was not snippetized and that he was captured raw and uncut. Here it is, in two parts:

Mother Jones also offered audio-only versions and promised a full transcript shortly:

Top political blunders caught on tape

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The controversy surrouning Mitt Romney's comments made on an open camera are nothing new to politics. Here are some other notable blunders involving open microphones:


Prior to his weekly radio address, President Ronald Reagan warming up stated:
"My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."


Then-Presidential candidate George W. Bush was recorded saying to VP candidate Dick Cheney at a labor day speech in Illinois:
"There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the New York Times"

While lobbying for Paris to host the 2012 Olympics, French President Jacques Chirac was caught critiquing Paris's rival London:
"The only thing that they have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease. You cannot trust people who have such bad cuisine."

April 2008

At a fundraiser in San Francisco then presidential canddiate Barack Obama was caught saying that some people:
"Get bitter, they cling to their guns or religion or antipahty toward people who aren't like them..."

July 2008

Following up on his criticism that then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama "talked down to people" Rev. Jesse Jackson stated unknowingly into a TV microphone:
"I want to cut his nuts off."

March 2010

While congratulating President Obama on signing the health care overhaul legislation, Vice President Joe Biden was overheard whispering to Obama:
"This is a big f------ deal."

Wasting no time in seizing on a low-point for Mitt Romney, the campaign to reelect President Obama is already exploring a separate TV ad using a leaked campaign fund-raising video of the GOP candidate that went viral on Monday.

Obama already posted a Web video today featuring "regular people" who are reacting to the video, which was leaked to Mother Jones and posted on its Web site on Monday. It appears that Millennium Park is in the background of the video.

A source close to the campaign says they are looking at a separate TV spot using the video.

In the Romney video, he is heard saying that 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes, are entitled and as president: "my job is not to worry about those people."

Romney called a news conference late Monday to attempt to quell the growing firestorm over the comments.
He asked that the full video be released to show his comments in context.

Mother Jones earlier today said that will happen.

Saying his goal was to get Democrats elected, the grandson of former president Jimmy Carter claims responsibility for helping leak an explosive Mitt Romney video that has gone viral since Monday.

NBC just posted this:

"The grandson of former president Jimmy Carter revealed he helped expose the secret Romney fundraiser video that sparked a firestorm on the campaign trail. He said his motivation "is to help get Democrats elected" and to get back at the GOP presidential nominee for his criticism of his grandfather's presidency.

"It gets under my skin-- mostly the weakness on the foreign policy stuff," James Carter IV told NBC News. "I just think it's ridiculous. I don't like criticism of my family."

He told NBC News that he e-mailed his grandfather Mother Jones' story about the tape and was congratulated Tuesday morning. "James: This is extraordinary. Congratulations! Papa," Carter said the former president responded."

In the NBC interview, James Carter told of how he "persuaded the source that shot the video to release it to the press."



It's probably not possible in the United States anymore, but take a moment to put politics aside and enjoy some Obama Time.

This video mashup, tackling the "You Didn't Build That" Republican rallying cry to the tune of M.C. Hammer's "U Can't Touch This," is something that's sorely missing from American politics in 2012: fun. It's masterfully edited - produced by Australian viral video maker Hugh Atkin - you can dance to it and, best of all, there's a cameo by Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet, breaking down grammar for us. And Hulk Hogan.

Put on your shiny gold parachute pants and enjoy. The original Hammer video, just in case you need to compare:

Full Romney video to be released on Mother Jones

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Last night, GOP candidate Mitt Romney asked for the release of the full video of his explosive remarks in a private fund-raiser -- and today, he may get his wish.

According to POLITICO: "Mother Jones magazine, which obtained the video of Romney's controversial remarks at a private fundraiser about the "47 percent" who don't pay federal income taxes and are dependent on government, plans to release the full video later Tuesday, the magazine's co-editor Clara Jeffrey told POLITICO.

"We have the whole tape, which we're releasing later today," Jeffrey said.

Sen. Mark Kirk, who suffered a stroke eight months ago, has released a new YouTube video, this one tackling the recent S&P downgrade of Illinois debt.

Kirk, who turned 53 Sunday, speaks for about 30 seconds of the 90 second video. The senator's aides have declined to say when he will return to Washington.

Twitter explodes over Romney 47 percent video comments

A look at the "47 percent" firestorm as it went viral on social media Monday.

Storified by Craig Newman · Mon, Sep 17 2012 21:28:18

Mitt Romney pauses during press conference about leaked video in Costa Mesa, Calif. via @AP Dharapak
Mitt Romney on Obama Voters
SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama VotersDuring a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don't assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them.
Leaked Romney "47%" video goes viral; trending on Twitter - Sun-Times PoliticsMother Jones video #RomneyEncore is trending on Twitter tonight following a leaked video earlier today featuring Mitt Romney telling a group of wealthy donors at a private fund-raiser earlier this year that 47 percent of Americans take government hand-outs. A series of videos from that same event were posted on Mother Jones' Web site earlier today.
Romney tries to put out firestorm from leaked video - Sun-Times PoliticsMitt Romney holds a news conference Monday night responding to the leaked entitlement video that's causing huge headaches for his campaign tonight. "It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question.
Is there an elegant way to say you don't care about 47% of the American people?
Here's the transcript of Romney's press conference today (and yes, the full video is coming soon):
RT @MotherJones: Guys, the fact that Romney held #47percent fundraiser at sex party hedge funder isn't our #RomneyEncore. That comes tom ...
In press conf Romney said he hoped "whoever" leaked the video would release the whole thing. Ah, his wish will be granted soon! @MotherJones
So @MittRomney calls #47percent of us welfare cheats & tax dodgers. I'll show you my tax returns if you show me yours
@TwittyPolitics funny that most of the non-payers live in red states
Romney says nearly half of Americans don't pay taxes, 'believe they are victims': -AB
47% of america is not good enough for Romney. #RomneyEncore
RT @thedailybeast: "The Romney campaign has suddenly turned into a circular firing squad," says @HowardKurtz #47percent
RT @jimlairbeard: It takes some brass to insult 47% of Americans and not show your own tax returns. #Romneyencore
Another reason Mitt Romney doesn't want to release his tax returns: they may reveal he's an Obama voter.
Breaking News: Picture of President Obama at the White House watching the leaked Mitt Romney video. #RomneyEncoreCaptain Pajamas
Mitt Romney, the guy who pays no taxes on millions of dollars thinks you're a welfare freeloader. God Bless 47% of America! #RomneyEncore
RT @MoveOn: "@AriBerman: Romney is the last person on earth who should lecture others about not paying taxes" #47Percent
What will Romney do for an encore? Condemn people who don't save enough for a weekend house? Use #RomneyEncore hashtag
RT @maxhandelman: I wonder what the Daily Show and Colbert Report writing staffs are up to at the moment? #romneyencore
#RomneyEncore Shiny object talking points by libs to divert the subject away from 4 dead Americans in the Middle East.
RT @kelseycombe: I think we should all donate 47 dollars to Obama tonight. #RomneyEncore
RT @king_davidwale: can a presidential candidate be impeached... #RomneyEncore #obama2012
RT @Tamarabrams: #RomneyEncore New verb: to "Romney." Meaning: to hold in contempt anyone who doesn't look, think or bank like you.
Romney, who criticizes Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers & the moochers
#47Percent That's higher than Romney's polling. And also, under his own tax plan, wouldn't Romney fall under that number? #RomneyEncore
RT @chrisrockoz: Much like Kim Kardashian, Mitt Romney will be remembered for one terrible video #RomneyEncore
RT @NickKristof: "The problem with American voters is they're too stressed. They don't spend enough time on their yachts." #RomneyEncore
RT @nrothstein: First debate : 'I'll bet you the million in my pocket that your voters don't pay income taxes'-- Romney #romneyencore
#47Percent of me despises Mitt Romney. The other 53% of me finds him repugnant.
RT @ClaraJeffery: In sum: Romney has party at sexed crazed hedge funder, insults most of America. #47percent
#RomneyEncore Watching Mitt's response to the 47% video I was waiting for him to rip off his pants and yell "Magic underwear! Protect me!"
RT @BreeNewsome: Romney apologizes for calling #47percent of Americans "victims". Says he meant to say "lazy bastards." #RomneyEncore ht ...
RT @PoloticsChris: BREAKING: #47percent Obama lovers hate Romney for telling the truth.
Right... MT @kesgardner: Left fantasy the 1% oppress the 99% Reality: the 47% are weighing down and even oppressing the other 53% #47percent
Amazing that Mitt Romney saying that 47% of Americans are entitlement-mongering deadbeats is perceived as hyping up his base. Just sad.
RT @mrbenz7: Telling it like it is! #47percent pay little in taxes and depend on gov't services! We need an economy providing jobs!! #Ro ...
So the question is: Does a Super PAC just air a full minute of the Romney secret tape as a commercial?
RT @digiphile: "Who the #47percent are"-@DLeonhardt, 2010 ~10% of US households pay no net federal taxes.
PHOTO: Romney leaves a press conference after speaking about leaked video in Costa Mesa, Calif. via @AP Dharapak

Romney tries to put out firestorm from leaked 47 percent video

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Mitt Romney holds a news conference Monday night responding to the leaked entitlement video that's causing huge headaches for his campaign tonight.

"It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off
the cuff in response to a question. And I'm sure I could state it more
clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that,"
Romney said Monday of the video that shows him saying that 47 percent of Americans essentially expect handouts. "Of course I want to help all Americans. All Americans have a bright and prosperous future."

Leaked Romney "47%" video goes viral; trending on Twitter

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Mother Jones video

#RomneyEncore is trending on Twitter tonight following a leaked video earlier today featuring Mitt Romney telling a group of wealthy donors at a private fund-raiser earlier this year that 47 percent of Americans take government hand-outs.

A series of videos from that same event were posted on Mother Jones' Web site earlier today. The post has been Tweeted more than 14,000 times.

It's prompted thousands of Tweets blasting Romney.
A few examples:
These two from NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof:
"What will Romney do for an encore? Condemn people who don't save enough for a weekend house."
"The problem with American voters is they're too stressed. They don't spend enough time on their yachts." #RomneyEncore

Ask not what your country can do for you... but what your country can do for Mitt Romney. #RomneyEncore

"I'm having this great contest for voters -- one will fly on my airplane with me. Of course, they'll be strapped to the roof." #RomneyEncore

Here is an excerpt of Romney's remarks that is ruffling the most feathers.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...These are people who pay no income tax.


In an event billed as the reason "why Al Gore invented the Internet," Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly are teed up to debate eachother in a livestreamed event on October 3.

The Rumble in the Air Conditioned Auditorium, $4.95 for a pre-order, promises to address the pressing topics of the day in comedic and entertaining fashion:

Bill O'Reilly. Jon Stewart. 2 podiums. 1 Air-Conditioned Auditorium. "O'Reilly v Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium" will be streamed live, Saturday, October 6th at 8pm ET from Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University. O'Reilly and Stewart will take an entertaining and comedic approach to today's pressing political issues in an attempt to find the best direction for America. "The Rumble 2012" will surely be a must-see event! If you pre-order by October 1st, you can suggest a question that Jon and Bill may answer during the debate. Pre-Order Now to be a part of the action.

Opponent calls Jesse Jackson Jr. "absentee congressman"

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An opponent of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in this fall's election called for the congressman's resignation on Monday, saying Jackson is unfit to serve the district.

Anthony W. Williams, a write-in candidate of the 2nd Congressional District, complained Jackson is out of touch and outright absent from the district -- an absence, he argued, that began well before his June 10 health leave.

"We have an absentee congressman," said Williams.

Williams, of Dolton, complained about Jackson spending his time in Washington D.C. rather than paying mind to issues in the district.

"I'm asking him to campaign or resign," Williams said. "You can't have it both ways."

Williams is the pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Robbins.
To read more: Click here

SPRINGFIELD-A money-saving effort that could knock thousands of ineligible Medicaid recipients off the state dole hasn't been launched yet by Gov. Pat Quinn's office, prompting a clash Monday between the administration and GOP critics over whether the delay is a part of an election-year equation not to alienate Democratic voters.

In June, the governor approved the plan to "scrub" the state's Medicaid rolls of ineligible recipients as part of a $2.7 billion reduction to the state health-care program for the poor, elderly and disabled that would "save Medicaid from the brink of collapse."

But nearly a quarter of the way into the state's fiscal year, that effort has not gotten underway, leading the top House Republican to accuse Quinn of playing politics on the issue.

"It's convenient the implementation doesn't start until after the election, and it would be a constituency that would support him and Democrats," said House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), who made the accusation at a Springfield press conference also attended by Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).

"It's a fair question," Cross continued, referring to the chance of a campaign-related delay in going after ineligible Medicaid recipients. "We'd certainly believe that's a possibility."

Republicans believe as many as 300,000 people could be purged from the state's Medicaid program by the eligibility check, though the Quinn administration believes that figure is high.

Top Quinn aides branded Monday's partisan attack as "100-percent false" and said the Department of Healthcare and Human Services acted within the required 90-day timeframe after Quinn signed the Medicaid cuts into law to hire a company to oversee the scrubbing effort.

Last Thursday, the state hired Reston, Va.-based Maximus Health Services in a two-year, $76 million deal.

Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, said the actual scrubbing process won't begin until Jan. 1 to allow Maximus time to set up a call center, establish protocols in dealing with state workers and finalize "data agreements" to access income and other eligibility databases that will be used.

"That's an absurd point to try to make to say any of this has anything to do with an election. It's not true," Claffey said, responding to the GOP charges. "The fact is it's an enormously complicated undertaking, and we're getting it done quite rapidly."

Even though Quinn approved a Medicaid-cuts package predicated on $350 million in savings from getting rid of ineligible Medicaid recipients, Claffey cast doubts on whether that much money actually can be saved.

"It's a very aggressive target. We're not sure if we're going to meet those savings," he said. "We don't know how many people will be bumped...but we'll certainly find out."

Derrick Smith.jpg
Former state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago), pictured here before his August expulsion from the House, holds a big lead in a new poll over third-party rival Lance Tyson in the November election.
[AP Photo/Seth Perlman]

SPRINGFIELD-Is getting expelled from the Illinois House enough to kill a legislator's political future?

Apparently not for former state Rep. Derrick Smith.

Smith (D-Chicago) is blowing away his third-party opponent in a new poll of West Side voters despite being under federal indictment for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe.

Smith led 10th District Unity Party candidate Lance Tyson by a 48- to 9-percent margin in an automated poll of 556 registered voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.15 percent.

The survey, which showed 43 percent of respondents undecided, was performed by Illinois pollster We Ask America on Sept. 12 and first reported Monday by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rich Miller in his Capitol Fax newsletter.

Gregg Durham, chief operating officer of the polling group, said it appears residents in the 10th House District may be unaware of Smith's August expulsion from the House because of his federal bribery charge.

"Usually, when we dig into these types of details, there's a surprising amount of people busy making a living, raising kids and going through normal struggles of life who are unaware of what has happened," Durham told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Former Rep. Smith has a common last name, and it's not uncommon anywhere in Illinois for people to not pay attention in a state representative race, especially when there's an important presidential race at hand," he said. "If this election were held today, he'd swamp Mr. Tyson."

Smith was indicted last spring after allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI informant who claimed to be acting as an intermediary to a purported daycare operator wanting Smith's help in obtaining a $50,000 state grant. Smith allegedly wrote a letter of support for the daycare operator before taking the informant's money.

Durham said another factor is that the automated poll informed voters of Smith and Tyson's political affiliations, and many Democrats likely were swayed by learning Smith is the only Democrat in the race.

Among respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, 57 percent favored Smith, and only 7 percent chose Tyson.

"A lot of people vote on party loyalties," Durham said.

Sun-Times political columnist Carol Marin reported that both House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have declared their neutrality in the Smith-Tyson campaign.

Secretary of State Jesse White backs Tyson, a one-time aide to former Mayor Richard M. Daley and chief of staff to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

If somehow Smith defeats Tyson on Nov. 6, he can reclaim his House seat in January, and the House would have to decide whether to re-initiate expulsion proceedings using a different reason than the rationale from August or simply allow him to remain in office pending the outcome of his federal corruption trial.

"This is going to be one [campaign] that a lot of people watch," Durham said. " And if an indicted candidate who's been expelled from the House wins, I believe there'll be a lot of questions asked."

birth.jpgThe Kansas Secretary of State is one of three high-level, elected Republicans looking at whether President Obama should be removed from the official state ballot.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kris Kobach is acting on a complaint filed by a Manhattan resident on "birther" concerns over the President's birth certificate.

"I don't think it's a frivolous objection," Kobach told the Capital-Journal's Tim Carpenter. "I do think the factual record could be supplemented."

The complaint is being reviewed by the State Objections Board, made up of Secretary of State Kobach - a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney - Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt. They postponed their vote, the paper reports, until Monday, because "they lacked sufficient evidence of President Barack Obama's birth records to decide whether to remove the Democratic nominee from the November ballot in Kansas."

Obama, who said his "Kansas roots run deep," has family history in the state. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and maternal grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, were all Kansans.

UPDATE, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012: Joe Montgomery, the Kansas birther who was pushing to have President Obama removed from the ballot over citizenship concerns, has dropped his complaint. Talking Points Memo has the details, including an email from Montgomery citing harassment and concern for his family's safety as the reasons for his change of heart:

"There has been a great deal of animosity and intimidation directed not only at me, but at people around me, who are both personal and professional associations," Montgomery wrote. "I'm don't wish to burden anyone with more of this negative reaction, so please immediatley [sic] withdraw any action on this objection."


pinkslime.jpeg FILE - In this March 29, 2012 file photo, the beef product known as pink slime or lean finely textured beef is frozen on a large drum as part of its manufacturing process at the Beef Products Inc.'s plant in South Sioux City, Neb

CHICAGO -- Dan Webb is best known in Chicago for defending the likes of former Gov. George Ryan and Springfield millionaire William Cellini. Over the last several months, however, Webb has made headlines after he was appointed Special Prosecutor to investigate what happened in the death of David Koschman.

Today, we learn Webb has another new gig.

He is representing Beef Products Inc. which on Thursday filed a $1.2 billion lawsuit against ABC News, Inc. for defamation, blaming the network for misleading consumers about "pink slime."

The lawsuit indicates the network's coverage falsely led consumers to believe that the meat product was unsafe and unhealthy, causing a huge profit loss.

Webb, who could not immediately be reached for comment, has been handling a grand jury that is investigating Koschman's 2004 death. The Chicagoan was punched in a drunken exchange with the politically connected nephew of Chicago's former Mayor Daley. A Sun-Times investigation has raised questions about whether politics were involved in the handling of Koschman's death investigation.

Conservative broadcasting firebrand Rush Limbaugh has a new theory. Osama bin Laden was taken out by Seal Team 6 in a public relations ploy to help re-elect President Obama.

Limbaugh brought up the logic on his radio show Wednesday, theorizing that al Qaida dimed out their leader to make the president look strong and help him win the White House for a second term. Why? To imperil Israel.

Limbaugh's thoughts on the subject:

Smaller Schock photo.jpg
A watchdog group slammed U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) Wednesday for not following federal campaign-finance laws.
[Photo by Dave McKinney]

SPRINGFIELD-An Illinois congressman eying a potential 2014 run for governor drew criticism Wednesday from a left-leaning, campaign-finance watchdog for allegedly improperly soliciting a donation and using campaign funds for personal use.
U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock was one of two Illinois lawmakers targeted by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in its "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" report, which also took aim at Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL). Thirteen Republicans and seven Democrats made the group's list.
In zinging Schock with a "dishonorable mention" in its list, CREW accused him of improperly soliciting a donation to a super PAC and using his political funds for a stay at a five-star hotel in Greece and for home exercise DVDs.
"Rep. Schock's naïve disregard for campaign finance regulations reflects discreditably on the office he holds," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a prepared statement. "The only reason he's been able to avoid accountability is the sheer ineptitude of the Federal Election Commission."
A call and email to Schock's spokesman Wednesday was not returned.
CREW cited a report by Roll Call that alleged Schock asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to contribute $25,000 to an anti-incumbent super PAC called the Campaign for Primary Accountability to help U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) oust 10-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-IL) in last March's primary.
Federal election law permits $5,000 contributions on such requests.
The group also slammed Schock for billing his campaign for $154,466 in questionable expenditures in 2008 and 2010, including a stay at a five-star luxury hotel in Greece and a series of P90X workout DVDs.
"Rep. Schock needs to work less on his abs and more on following the law," Sloan said. "Donors to his campaign aren't supposed to be financing his lavish lifestyle."
Kirk, meanwhile, was criticized by the group for promoting "legislation benefiting [lobbying] clients of his girlfriend." A spokesman for the senator did not respond to an email late Wednesday seeking comment on the group's report.

Council Approves Immigrant Protections

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Undocumented immigrants who witness crimes or are victims themselves would have nothing to fear from Chicago Police--and no excuse to avoid cooperating with them--under a mayoral plan approved by the City Council Wednesday.

Despite the bad blood between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, it's time for the two principals to go behind closed doors and hammer out an agreement to end the city's first teachers strike in 25 years, a South Side alderman said Wednesday

A powerful alderman is paying a price for warning last week that Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years was "inevitable" because of the belligerent attitude of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is scheduled to join local labor leaders at a City Hall press conference late Tuesday to declare their solidarity with striking Chicago teachers.

SPRINGFIELD--Sen. Dick Durbin weighed in Monday on the Chicago teachers' strike, telling both sides in the labor impasse to get back to the negotiating table.

In a statement issued by his office, Durbin said:

"While most kids in the country were heading off to school this morning, 400,000 students in Chicago stayed home because there is no agreement on a new contract. Instead of getting an education, these kids are being put in the middle of a fight between adults.

"I've reached out to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Mayor Emanuel to urge them to get back to the negotiating table. Chicago's students deserve better."

Because of the Chicago teachers strike, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will NOT be hosting a noon fund-raising lunch Monday to benefit a Super Pac raising money to elect Illinois House Democratic hopefuls.

The House Majority PAC event--at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse, 300 N. LaSalle--is to raise money for

Cheri Bustos
Bill Foster
David Gill
Brad Schneider
Tammy Duckworth
William Enyart

Obama claims 1.1 million donors in August

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CHICAGO -- President Obama's campaign, known for its grass-root fund-raising in the 2008 campaign, is again claiming to have the support of more ordinary people who donate in smaller gifts as the money race grows heated in the weeks leading to the Nov. election.

The Obama campaign said 317,000 of the more than 1 million donors who contributed in August were new donors.

"The key to fighting back against the special interests writing limitless checks to support Mitt Romney is growing our donor base, and we did substantially in the month of August," Campaign Manager Jim Messina said in a statement. "Fueled by contributions from more than 1.1 million Americans donating an average of $58 -- more than 317,000 who had never contributed to the campaign before -- we raised a total of more than $114 million. That is a critical downpayment on the organization we are building across the country -- the largest grassroots campaign in history."

For his part, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is expected to attend a fund-raiser in Lake Forest Monday.

Here's how the Obama campaign laid out the "full metrics" late Sunday.

Over $114m raised between OFA and DNC
More than 1.1 M donors in the month of August
Cycle to date donors more than 3.1 M
More than 317,000 new donors in the month of August
Avg donation for the month of August $58
98% donations $250 or less in the month of August

President Barack Obama is being joined by his family after just finishing his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (video by Lynn Sweet)

President Barack Obama is joined by Vice President Joe Biden and their families on the stage as confetti falls, wrapping up the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (video by Lynn Sweet)

(video by Lynn Sweet)

The speeches - Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention

With reporting from the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Storified by Suntimes · Thu, Sep 06 2012 19:31:30

Obama says he is worn from raising campaign cash "If you're sick of hearing me approve this message. Believe me, so am I." #DNCnatasha korecki
President Obama accepts nomination #DNCnatasha korecki
Sasha, Malia..."yes, you do have to go to school in the morning." #DNCnatasha korecki
Watch DNC President Obama Video Biopicpbsnewshour
Michelle Obama back up to the stage. .."tonight, I am so thrilled and so honored to introduce the love of my life...Barack Obama" #DNCnatasha korecki
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin: 'We Must Walk Forward, Together'pbsnewshour
#dnc2012 Sen. Dick Durbin, serial Obama convention introducer..Durbin zings to Mitt, et al..."we are all in this alone,"Lynn Sweet
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin takes the stage, recalling the odyssey he and Barack Obama took together as Illinois lawmakers #DNCnatasha korecki
#DNC Biden wrapped up, Jill joins him on stage..what a hug!..I can see Michelle on her feet applauding.Lynn Sweet
#dnc2012 Biden on the future...direction we turn is in your hands...teleprompter has in your hands underlined.Lynn Sweet
#dnc2012 Biden downsizing Mitt, Ryan Sweet
Cannot even hear Joe Biden because standing crowd drowns him out, "It never ever makes sense to bet against the American people!" #DNCnatasha korecki
New one from Biden "voucher care "Lynn Sweet
Vice President Joe Biden on bin Laden "America's heart had to be healed" #dnc korecki
Vice President Joe Biden: "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!!" #DNCnatasha korecki
Biden slams "the Bain Way" - Lynn SweetCHARLOTTE, N.C.--Vice President Joe Biden is taking on Mitt Romney's top credential for the Oval Office, his time a Bain Capitol. Romney ...
Biden takes direct hit at "the Bain Way" #dnc2012 "Conviction, resolve, Barack Obama" saved the auto industryLynn Sweet
#dnc2012 Biden "We'ver turned a corner" August jobless numbers out Friday.Lynn Sweet
#DNC2012 Good Biden soundbite: He does not see Obama "in soundbited."Lynn Sweet
Biden's turn. #DNC2012. "A journey we have finished yet" a core concept Obama/Biden re-elect argument.Lynn Sweet
#dnc212 Biden getting mushy on "she's always loved me" Asked to marry her 5 times.Lynn Sweet
Vice President Joe Biden strikes on stage to a sea of waving red white and blue "Ready for Joe."natasha korecki
8:29 | Vice President Joe Biden takes the stage to a standing ovation.
Excerpts from Joe Biden's Democratic National Convention speech @suntimes #politicsCraig Newman
All of Obama's campaign promises, we track them on our #obameter. #DNC2012PolitiFact
Dr. Jill Biden: 'Joe Always Works To Give People a Sense of Hope'pbsnewshour
#DNC2012 The "Ready for Joe" signs are being passed out across the well as the "Fired Up."Lynn Sweet
Watch DNC Video Biopic of Vice President Joe Bidenpbsnewshour
Thousands of people in the audience waving blue signs that say "Thank You" as veterans file off of stage. #DNCnatasha korecki
#dnc2012 thank you signs across the hall as vets get thank you Sweet
Coming up on stage as this video plays A group of vetsLynn Sweet
John Kerry on the Truth-O-Meter #DNC2012PolitiFact
Mass. Sen. John Kerry: 'This Is Not the Time to Outsource the Job of Commander in Chief'pbsnewshour
"we believe in Barack Obama " John Kerry,next sec state Sweet
Kerry hammering Romney: "Mitt Romney talks like he's only seeing Russia by watching Rocky IV" #DNCnatasha korecki
#dnc2012 john kerry getting his revengeLynn Sweet
Best line of the #DNC? John Kerry: "Ask Osama Bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago."natasha korecki
Former pres candidate John Kerry takes the stage: "I say to you, this is not the time to outsource the job of commander in chief." #DNCnatasha korecki
Florida GOP said Charlie Crist was pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax. Mostly True, says @PolitiFactFL #DNC2012PolitiFact
Former Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist: I Didn't Leave GOP, 'It Left Me'pbsnewshour
Video tribute played of the late Geraldine Ferraro. It is simple, replaying her own speech from a Democratic convention #DNCnatasha korecki
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer: Mitt Romney 'Wrong Man To Be President'pbsnewshour
Did Romney say 'not worth moving heaven and earth' to get Osama bin Laden? Half True #DNC2012PolitiFact
Crowd politely claps as Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer says Mitt Romney is a loyal American and a "good family man." #DNCnatasha korecki
Watch Actress Eva Longoria Speak at DNCpbsnewshour
"The Eva Longoria who flips Wendy burgers needs a tax break," she says of her youth. Eva Longoria who is now an actress "does not." #DNCnatasha korecki
Eva Longoria talks of Meager upbringing; how education was always top priority in family #dnc korecki
DNC 2012 - Jennifer Granholm Attacks Mitt Romney's Comment on Detriotwsjdigitalnetwork
#DNC2012 Jennifer Granholm is whipping up the crowd like no one else. Before the 2016 bandwagon starts, remember she was born in Canada. Oh.Lynn Sweet
Former Mich. Gov. Jennifer Granholm is shouting, red-faced crowd drowning her out #DNCnatasha korecki
#DNC2012 Jennifer Granhold channels Ann Richards at the podium..from Michigan, where the trees are just the right size. Take that, MittLynn Sweet
Caroline Kennedy Speaks to DNC on Health Care, Women's Health, Votingpbsnewshour
Caroline Kennedy said four years ago she was inspired by Barack Obama's presidency. "Today, I'm inspired by his record." #DNCnatasha korecki
Caroline Kennedy says Obama gave "hope to the hopeless" and that she was inspired by Obama's vision for America. #DNCnatasha korecki
#DNC2012 Caroline Kennedy's primary endorsement of Obama in 2008 primary was a turning pointLynn Sweet
Watch Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Recite Pledge of Allegiance at DNCpbsnewshour
Arena chanting "GABBY GABBY!" As Gabrielle Giffords blows kisses to the audience and walks off stage with some assistance. #DNCnatasha korecki
#dnc2012 convention hall explodes when gabby giffords comes to stage with @DSW #DSW to lead the pledgeLynn Sweet
Standing ovation as Gabriel Giffords dramatically walks onto the stage. Giffords survived an assassination attempt. #DNCnatasha korecki
South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn: President Obama Brought 'Our Country Out From the Darkness'pbsnewshour
Actress Kerry Washington: 'We Are Not Invisible'pbsnewshour
Actress Scarlett Johansson: 'Vote, So That Your Voice Is Heard'pbsnewshour
Scarlett Johansson is trying to appeal to younger voters. Says she's "here to ask you to commit to vote." #DNCnatasha korecki
Scarlett Johansson dressed simply and still looks glamorous. #dnc korecki
Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson up talking about growing up with other students who still use Planned Parenthood. #DNCnatasha korecki
ScarJo to tell us when she was little, her mom let her push the buttons in the voting booth. That's fraud! Arrest Natasha Romanoff!Richard Roeper
Watch the Foo Fighters Perform at the Democratic National Conventionpbsnewshour
Foo Fighters rocking it #dnc korecki
Watch Toledo GM Worker Kenyetta Jones Speak at DNCpbsnewshour
Watch Joe Biden Get Nominated for Vice President at DNCpbsnewshour
Zach Wahls, Son of a Lesbian Couple, Addresses DNCpbsnewshour
Watch DNC Video About President Obama's Support For Gay Marriagepbsnewshour
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter: Responsibility Is What 'Being President Is All About'pbsnewshour
Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin: "President Obama Believes In Our Manufacturers"pbsnewshour
The DNC Through the Eyes of an Illegal Immigrantpbsnewshour
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: Election Is 'Personal For Every American'pbsnewshour
Watch Singer Mary J. Blige Perform at DNCpbsnewshour
Georgia Rep. John Lewis: 'Your Vote Is Precious, Almost Sacred'pbsnewshour
Watch DNC Video on Don't Ask-Don't Tellpbsnewshour
Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank: We Should've Had 'Myth Romney'pbsnewshour
Florida Retiree Carol Berman Talks Health Care Reform at DNCpbsnewshour
Speakers set for final night of DNC - Sun-Times PoliticsMusician Marc Anthony performs on stage for a soundcheck during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable ...
Can Obama acceptance speech outshine Clinton's nomination? - Sun-Times PoliticsPresident Bill Clinton, despite some partisan disagreement with policy, was universally lauded Wednesday night after his nomination speec...
John Kerry stops to talk to reporters about Obama's speech tonight. #dnc korecki

Previous convention coverage

Looking back at previous coverage of the conventions from Chicago Sun-Times reporters and columnists on the ground in Tampa and Charlotte.
Our fact-checks of Bill Clinton's speech last night at #DNC2012
The speeches - Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention liveblogThe speakers of Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention with reporting by Chicago Sun-Times staff members.
The speeches - Day 1 of the Democratic National Conventionnull
Coverage of the Democratic National Convention by Chicago Sun-Times staffWashington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet (@LynnSweet), Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney (@DaveMcKinney123), political reporter Natasha Ko...
The speeches: Day 4 of the Republican National Conventionnull
The speeches: Day 3 of the Republican National Conventionnull
The speeches: Day 2 - Republican National ConventionA look at some of the highlights from the speeches from Day 2 of the Republican National Convention.
Day 1 at the Republican National ConventionWashington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet (@LynnSweet), Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney (@DaveMcKinney123), political reporter Natasha Ko...


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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michelle Obama stepped up to the lectern for the second time this convention but tonight, she was introducing her husband, the president of the United States.

President Obama referenced how it was a speech at a political convention that launched his career. He began by contrasting the Democrats' path.

"Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known; the values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton's Army; the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber assembly line while he was gone," he said.

"They knew they were part of something larger - a nation that triumphed over fascism and depression; a nation where the most innovative businesses turned out the world's best products, and everyone shared in the pride and success - from the corner office to the factory floor. My grandparents were given the chance to go to college, buy their first home, and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of America's story: the promise that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be rewarded; that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules - from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, DC.

(video by Lynn Sweet)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin insisted that "America is coming back," as he gave opening remarks to introduce President Obama on the night of the president's speech.

"Come to Belvidere, Illinois and meet 5,000 proud Chrysler UAW workers," the Illinois Democrat said. He was the latest of many people tonight to point out that Mitt Romney once said of the collapsing auto industry: "let them go bankrupt."President Obama said: 'Let them go back to work.'"

Biden tackles Mitt on Bain

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Vice President Joe Biden is taking on Mitt Romney's top credential for the Oval Office, his time a Bain Capitol. Romney showcased his career there at his GOP convention last week--bringing on stage one of his former Bain colleagues and the Staples founder--a company Bain bankrolled to get its start.

Biden didn't bash Bain per se. He said running that kind of company isn't a ticket to the White House. "The Bain way may bring your firm the highest profit. But its not the way to lead your country from its highest office," Biden said.

Gabrielle Giffords leads Democratic delegates in pledge

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Video by Natasha Korecki

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz) won a standing ovation as she carefully walked across the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

Then, standing at the center of the stage, with a video of a giant American Flag behind her, Giffords led the arena, packed with some 20,000, in reciting the pledge of allegiance.

Giffords offered a real symbol of "hope" after she survived being shot in the head by a gunman in 2010.

The crowd erupted into applause and cheers as she blew kisses on her way back off the stage.

In the face of the deepest economic crisis in our lifetimes -- this nation proved itself. We're as worthy as any generation that has gone before us.

The same grit, the same determination, the same courage, that has always defined what it's meant to be an American--is in you.

We're on a mission to move this nation forward -- from doubt and downturn, to promise and prosperity.

A mission we will continue and a mission we will complete.


The two men seeking to lead this country over the next four years have fundamentally different visions, and a completely different value set.

Governor Romney believes that in the global economy, it doesn't much matter where American companies put their money or where they create jobs.

I found it fascinating last week--when Governor Romney said, that as President, he'd take a jobs tour. Well with all his support for outsourcing -- it's going to have to be a foreign trip.

Look, President Obama knows that creating jobs in America -- keeping jobs in America -- and bringing jobs back to America -- is what being President is all about.


My fellow Americans, we now find ourselves at the hinge of history.

And the direction we turn is in your hands.

It has been an honor to serve you, and to serve with a President who has always stood up for you.

As I've said, I've seen him tested.

Via @GuardianUS

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), whose 2004 presidential candidacy was wounded by accusations of being a flip flopper--for it before he was against it--got even on Thursday in a rip roaring convention speech where he excoriated Mitt Romney as a foreign policy lightweight.

Kerry, a foreign policy specialist--a possible Secretary of State in a second Obama term--said Romney has had so many positions on intervening in Libya..."talk about being for it before you were against it."


Former Presidential candidate John Kerry hammered Mitt Romney on foreign policy, saying he would have to "outsource" his decisions to advisers and characterized Romney's tour of Europe over the summer as a calamitous "blooper reel."
"It took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order to finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden," Kerry said. "Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago," he said to a roaring crowd.
Kerry, responding to a dig by Romney last week that Obama had promised "part the seas," saying Obama does have lofty plans to preserve the earth.
"That is the responsibility from the scriptures and that too is the responsibility of the leader of the free world," said Kerry.
Earlier this week, the Democrats caught criticism after removing the word "God" from their platform.

Crowd fired up before Obama speech at DNC

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Video by Natasha Korecki

Foo Fighters rock the arena at the DNC

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Hours before Thursday's MTV Video Music Awards, the Foo Fighters rocked the music world at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

illinois labor at convention.jpg
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Illinois has prime seats on the Democratic convention floor, and for the Wednesday session labor leaders from the state were front row center. The group pictured above are Tom Balanoff, SEIU and a longtime Obama friend; Toby Trimmer, IFT; Dan Montgomery, IFT president; Tony Garcia, UAW and Ron McInroy, UAW president.

Gov. Quinn visits Twitter at DNC

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Speakers set for final night of DNC

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Musician Marc Anthony performs on stage for a soundcheck during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC, which concludes today, nominated U.S. President Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The stage is set for a final, star-studded night at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

President Barack Obama takes the stage shortly after 9 p.m. Chicago time, introduced by Michelle Obama. He follows addresses by Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Dr. Jill Biden, and U.S. senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and John Kerry (D-Mass), according to Charlotte's WCNC.

But before he does, expect a night of high-profile musical acts and celebrity drop-ins, and what promises to be an emotional moment as retired Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords leads the pledge of allegiance.

Charlotte businesses' reactions to DNC mixed

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obama dolls.jpg

Handmade Barack Obama dolls are for sale at the Carolina Fest street festival during preparations for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on September 3, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK

Visitors to this week's Democratic National Convention are expected to spend a whopping $200 million in Charlotte, filling hotel rooms and providing a captive audience for sellers hawking everything from patriotic baked goods to political kitsch to authentic Carolina barbecue.

Some local store owners took a gamble to stock up for the convention months in advance, and are reaping the rewards this week, the Charlotte Observer reports. But not all businesses are feeling the love.

Obama gives regrets for speech venue change

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Speaking on a conference call, President Barack Obama gave his regrets Thursday to supporters who won't see his address because looming thunderstorms forced convention organizers to move his speech indoors.

"I regret that we're not all gathering in one place to deliver my acceptance speech tonight," he during the call, Politico reports. But, he said, "I could not ask you, our volunteers, our law enforcement, first responders to subject themselves to the risks of severe thunderstorms."

Roughly 65,000 people had tickets -- and 19,000 more were wait-listed -- to hear him accept the Democratic presidential nomination at Bank of American Stadium, an outdoor venue where the NFL's Carolina Panthers play.

But organizers said Wednesday a forecast including the chance of thunderstorms prompted them to move the speech inside, to Time Warner Cable Arena where convention events were already held this week.

"We can't let a little thunder and lightning get us down," Obama said on his call, according to Politico. "We're going to have to roll with it."

Capacity at the indoor arena will be much smaller, Charlotte's WCNC-TV reports.

Clinton's address: The speech vs. the script

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Former President Bill Clinton speaks on stage during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former President Bill Clinton's Wednesday night address enthralled Democratic National Convention attendees, even as he added portions on the fly and spoke longer than was planned. But which parts were improvised?

According to a transcript on the website Buzzfeed, Clinton winged a quip that found its way into scads of morning headlines, when he declared "it takes some brass" for Republicans to blast President Obama for Medicare changes also included in vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan's budget.

Clinton struck to the script for maybe the biggest takeaway from the speech, in which he summed up the Republican campaign message as: "We left him a total mess. He hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in."

But other big sound bites weren't in the speech's final draft -- including his charge that past Republican budgets "defied arithmetic" and a folksy reference to his Arkansas upbringing, "where people still thought two and two was four."

Kerry at the Omni.jpg
U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, tells reporters that President Barack Obama needs to educate voters about all he has accomplished to justify a second term.
[Photo by Natasha Korecki]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kerry, the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, said President Barack Obama must remind America in his Thursday acceptance speech what all he has accomplished in four years because voters "don't know all he's done."

Kerry (D-MA), who wound up losing to President George W. Bush, made his comments after a breakfast meeting of Massachusetts delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

The Massachusetts and Illinois delegations are sharing the same hotel in downtown Charlotte.

"He's proud of what he has done, but a lot of Americans don't know all that he's done," Kerry told reporters. "We've actually accomplished [a lot], despite the greatest obstructionism I've ever seen in all [my] years in the Senate [and] more than any Congress since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal Congress.

"Look at the scope of the decisions, the financial reforms, the health care decision, which is going to save money and make life better. Look at the effect of the money that was spent on infrastructure, on saving Detroit," he continued.

"I want the president to build on what President Clinton did [Wednesday] night, and I expect him to lay out a very, very clear agenda. I expect him to connect the dots between the choices he has made now, where we are now and how we move forward," Kerry said. "I think he'll be very specific about that journey forward, and I think that's what Americans want to hear."

Gabby Giffords to lead pledge of allegiance at DNC

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Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) will lead the pledge of allegiance at the final day of the Democratic National Convention.

"Gabby will attend the convention tonight and will deliver the pledge of allegiance," Giffords' spokeswoman Hayley Zachary told CNN.

President Bill Clinton, despite some partisan disagreement with policy, was universally lauded Wednesday night after his nomination speech on behalf of President Obama. It was, because of the men's relative disdain for eachother, in many ways a historic moment.

He was wonky, didn't shy away from policy, was defiant of Republican claims without being mean-spirited and painted Obama as a man doing more than enough to turn around a mess that takes more than three years to clear up.

In short, many pundits say Clinton did masterfully in 45 minutes what Obama has been unable to do in his years in office - he communicated vision, goals, challenges and hard realities in his folksy, but knowledgable way. In fact, it had many journalists and political pros asking if maybe Clinton's resounding victory at the podium didn't set Obama with too high a bar in his own speech Thursday night.

What some of the watchers are saying:

And many watchers are asking if the rousing speech, heavy on hope and change, that Obama delivered in Denver in 2008 is within reach again for a president who's taken hits in nearly every pollable area of his tenure in the White House.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) avoids committing to a fourth term, telling reporters Thursday that one question he still must answer is whether "that fire [is] still in your belly."
[Photo by Dave McKinney]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sen. Dick Durbin said Thursday he will decide whether to seek a fourth term as the state's senior U.S. senator sometime after the first of the year, leaving unanswered one of the state Democratic Party's big storylines heading into the 2014 elections.

Asked about his future political plans, Durbin offered a non-commital answer to reporters after an Illinois delegation breakfast at the Democratic National Convention.

"I'm planning to run for re-election, but I'll make my final decision next year," said the Springfield Democrat, who turns 68 this fall.

By then, he will know whether President Barack Obama wins a second term and whether Democrats retain control of the U.S. Senate, where he has risen to become the second-highest-ranking Democrat behind only Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

If Durbin were to pull the plug on a political career that began with a 1982 run for Congress and hasn't included a loss since the 1970s, he would set off a power vacuum within his own party that could have implications for people like Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who long has been mentioned as a potential U.S. Senate candidate.

Republicans also are eagerly eying Durbin's plans with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and others possibly in play for that post should it open up. Schock also is drawing interest as a potential 2014 gubernatorial candidate.

Having shaken off a health scare and recently losing 20 pounds with a diet and exercise regimen, a healthy-looking Durbin said his decision will begin "first and foremost" with a discussion with wife, Loretta, and their family.

"That's where the conversation starts, and it's where it should start. I've been lucky enough to serve, been lucky enough to reach an important part of leadership in the Senate and what a great state to serve. But my juices are flowing. I love this business, and I love this state, and I'll match my schedule with any elected official in our state," Durbin said.

"I cover it from one end to the other every time I get home. I draw energy from it. It really inspires me," he said.

Another factor in the decision to run again is whether Democrats retain control of the Senate, though he described that consideration as "secondary" when compared to the input his family offers.

"You take a look at it, and you try to measure things in terms of yourself. You know, do you still have it? Is that fire still in your belly? Do you really want to get up and do this? Because in the Senate, it's not a two-year decision like in the House. It's an eight-year decision: It's a two-year campaign and a six-year term. Are you ready to engage and commit for eight years of your life? I love these six-year terms, but it also calls for a little more thought and patience before you make the decisions," said Durbin, who would be 76 after a fifth term.

He underwent surgery in 2010 to remove a non-cancerous tumor and insisted Thursday is in good health to mount another run should he decide to. Durbin was first elected to the Senate in 1996 and won re-election in 2002 and 2008, never drawing less than 56 percent of the vote. Previously, he was a seven-term member of the U.S. House.

"I feel good. I'm healthy. The rumors just fly when you've reached my stage of life: 'Oh, he went into surgery two years ago.' Everything turned out perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better result. And I feel healthy," he said. "I even lost a few pounds recently."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - He did it in Boston. He did it in Springfield. He did it in Denver. And he'll do it again Thursday night.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has been the go-to, good-luck charm President Barack Obama has turned to over and over again on his path to the presidency when it's been time to deliver a major speech.

Durbin (D-IL) introduced Obama first to Democrats at their 2004 convention in Boston, when he delivered his breakthrough "red-state, blue-state" speech as a U.S. Senate candidate.

In February 2007, Durbin introduced Obama as the unlikely presidential candidate from the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield. And in August 2008, when Obama wrapped up his party's nomination, Durbin introduced him to the crowd in a Denver football stadium.

The Springfield Democrat said he will be thrust into that comfortable role again Thursday night, introducing Obama before he delivers his acceptance speech before the Democratic National Convention.

"I think back in Boston. Nobody had ever heard of him. They didn't now how to pronounce that name. In Springfield, when I introduced him, he was launching a presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton, for goodness sakes, and there weren't a lot of people who thought he had much of a chance. But I introduced him and off he went to become president," Durbin told reporters after a breakfast meeting of Illinois delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

"When we were in Denver, it was a humbling experience to stand in that stadium with tens of thousands of people and know he was about to carry our standard into the November election," Durbin continued. "I hope I'd bring him the same good fortune after this introduction as he's had in previous times."

(video by Lynn Sweet)

I shot this video while Sandra Fluke was at the podium and panned a lineup of Illinois Democratic officials and candidates: From the top of the sweep, House hopeful Bill Foster, Democratic Party of Illinois chairman Mike Madigan, Rep. Jerry Costello, Gov. Pat Quinn, Lt. Gov Sheila Simon and her husband Perry, Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Rev. Jesse Jackson: Illinois is a swing state

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson -- the only member of the politically powerful Jackson dynasty attending the Democratic National Convention -- offered an unlikely characterization of Illinois Thursday morning.
"Illinois is a swing state," Jackson told the Illinois delegation at a Thursday breakfast. "We lost the Senate race in 2010. Illinois is a swing state too. Don't take Illinois for granted. Too many unregistered voters. Don't take Illinois for granted."

In 2010, Republican Mark Kirk won the seat that once belonged to Barack Obama, beating out Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.

Of course, it was that same seat that was famously the subject of a criminal indictment against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich was convicted of trying to trade Obama's seat for a personal benefit. Among the charges was that Blagojevich believed he would be paid $1.5 million in campaign cash to make an appointment. Of whom? The Rev. Jackson's son -- U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill) An emissary of Jackson's, Raghu Nayak, had approached Blagojevich's brother with a cash offer, which Rob Blagojevich turned down, according to testimony at the former governor's trial. The congressman has said he never directed anyone to make such an offer.
The younger Jackson has been hospitalized for depression and is not attending the convention. Neither is his wife, Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson.

Earlier this week, Rev. Jackson would not say whether his son would for certain continue pursuing office this fall.

In contrast to the Rev. Jackson's remarks, Democrats in Illinois have been saying this week they believe Obama will carry the state and the election will have enough bounce that the party could pick
up congressional seats in five different races. U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky earlier this week said the GOP was particularly vulnerable in the 8th Congressional district, where Democrat Tammy Duckworth is battling incumbent Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh.

Photo by Natasha Korecki

CHARLOTTE, N.C -- He may have expertise working with Chicago public schools and happens to be the highest-ranking education official in the country, but U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Thursday he would not get involved in the brewing tempest involving the Chicago Teachers Union.
"I think there is great leadership in the city," Duncan said initially when asked if he would get involved. Duncan, former Chicago schools superintendent, spoke to reporters briefly following a morning address to the Illinois delegation.
The Chicago Teachers Union, representing the third largest public school district in the nation, has set a Sept. 10 strike date after butting heads with policies and strategies put forth under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
When pressed on whether he could lend a hand in smoothing out relations, Duncan responded: "Happy to help if needed ... I think this is better dealt with by people who are the experts and are looking at this day to day."
Duncan said in his time as Chicago schools superintendent he worked through two negotiations, including one that meant negotiating until the wee hours of the morning.
"Obviously, it's been a tough time. But this is a time when you put aside egos, you put aside hurt feelings, bruised egos, whatever the case might be," Duncan said. "By definition any deal that gets done is not going to be perfect."

VIDEO: Roll call for Illinois delegates

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The Illinois delegates at the convention were called Thursday night as part of the roll call of the states. Check out this video from the convention floor:

The man who ran the Treasury Department from 1995 to 1999 was all wet -- literally.

Robert Rubin, who was Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, fell into a pool at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel Wednesday in Charlotte, according to

Lois Romano, senior political reporter for Politico tweeted an image of the soggy secretary:

Mike Madigan casting the Illinois ballots at the Democratic Convention
(video by Lynn Sweet)

CHARLOTTE-- It was just before midnight Friday when Illinois House Speaker and State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Madigan cast the state delegation's 196 votes to nominate a "son of Illinois," President Barack Obama, for re-election.

That happened to be 19 votes short of the 215 votes allotted to Illinois by the Democratic Party.

What gives? Somebody still holding out for Hillary?

A Madigan spokesman explained that under Democratic National Committee rules each state must submit a signed tally sheet with the names of each of its electors.

Illinois did not receive its tally sheet until 5 p.m. Tuesday and had to return it by noon Wednesday. Hence, nineteen people never got around to signing.

It's not as if Obama needed the votes.

The Midwest is suffering from an "exceptional" drought, wildfires devastated Colorado Springs and suburban Seattle and a hurricane drenched the Gulf Coast during the Republican National convention.

Yet experts tell the Sydney Morning Herald voters consider the economy and jobs to be more important than the environment.

Former Democratic presidential candidate and environmental activist Al Gore skipped the DNC in favor of spending the week in New York, according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu also did not speak at the convention, instead President Obama assigned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to speak about energy policy.

However, TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy creator Tom Steyer did speak in Charlotte, and took several shots at Mitt Romeny, according to GreenTechMedia.

Last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay was also short on environmental speakers, one of whom was Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, according to Esquire.

The speeches - Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention liveblog

The speakers of Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention with reporting by Chicago Sun-Times staff members.

Storified by Suntimes · Wed, Sep 05 2012 19:20:40

Elizabeth Warren calls Hillary Clinton: "One of the coolest women on the planet." #DNCnatasha korecki
9:16 | "I'm Elizabeth Warren, and this is my first Democratic Convention," the candidate for Senate from Massachusetts says to loud chants of WAR-REN, WAR-REN!
9:15 | Sinegal closes: I'm here tonight because Costco's story is the American story. ]President Obama] deserves four more years to finish the story.
Former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal says of Obama: "A president who takes the long view and makes the tough decisions"natasha korecki
Now Costco CEO saying the company had success "in bulk" under Democratic leadership. #DNCnatasha korecki
9:08 | Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco
Women's Rights Activist Sandra Fluke: 'This November, Each of Us Must Speak Up'pbsnewshour
9:08 | "It's now time to choose" ends Fluke to a standing ovation.
Fluke: "Instead of trying to silence her, you invite me here and give me a microphone to amplify our voice" #DNCnatasha korecki
Fluke "Our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or donors." #DNCnatasha korecki
Sandra Fluke: "I'm here because I spoke out." #DNCnatasha korecki
Sandra Fluke, who Rush Limbaugh called a "slut" gets an extended standing ovation. #DNCnatasha korecki
NBC news reports that Fluke's speaking slot was slid at last moment to primetime to give her a more prominent role.
9:01 | Sandra Fluke, the law student Rush Limbaugh called a "slut" draws standing ovation as she comes to the podium.
#dnc2012 state rep Illinois Linda chapa lavia wearing cubs shirt on floor Sweet
When it comes to jobless workers, Romney "likes to fire people"? False. #DNC2012PolitiFact
Former Employees of Companies Controlled by Bain Capital Speak at DNCpbsnewshour
Another worker saying that Bain Capital shut down her plant and drove her company into bankruptcy. #DNCnatasha korecki
Former Bain Capital worker: "Mitt Romney will stick it to working people. Barack Obama sticking up for working people!" #DNCnatasha korecki
United Auto Workers President Bob King: President Obama 'Stood with American Workers'pbsnewshour
Interesting how convention planners skipped over Sandra Fluke, the law student Limbaugh called a "slut." Must mean she'll get bigger role.Dave McKinney
Watch DNC Video and Speaker: "An Economy Built to Last: Auto-Industry"pbsnewshour
Big cheers from the convention floor as video touting Obama's auto-industry bailout. Everyone waving signs "1.1 million auto jobs saved"Dave McKinney
Actress and Talk Show Host Christina Saralegui: 'Don't Boo, Vote'pbsnewshour
Cristina Saralegui, described by some as the "Spanish Oprah," has the Dem convention crowd captivated.Dave McKinney
Cristina Saralegui: "Let's do this together""Palante!" #DNCnatasha korecki
Talk Show Host Cristina Saralegui, huge in the Latin community w/100 million viewers says of Obama; "he is on our side." #DNCnatasha korecki
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards Address Democratic Conventionpbsnewshour
Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards on Republicans: "It's like we woke up in a bad episode of Mad Men" #DNCnatasha korecki
Planned Parenthood prez Cecile Richards gets a standing ovation at the mention of her late mom, Texas Gov. Ann Richards. #DNCnatasha korecki
Planned Parenthood: "Thanks to Barack Obama, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition in America." #DNCnatasha korecki
Rep. Nancy Pelosi Says to Romney's Policies: 'It's Just Plain Wrong'pbsnewshour
Pelosi: "President Obama has focused on jobs from day one." #DNCnatasha korecki
Dem leaders not afraid to utter the word: "hope." Case in point now, Nancy Pelosi. #DNCnatasha korecki
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II to Congress: 'We Will Never Be Better Off Without Being Better'pbsnewshour
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver dialed up the energy level in the Times Forum #DNCnatasha korecki
Illinois delegates erupt to a rousing speech from US Rep Emanuel Cleaver Jr (D-MO),who says of his party: "We are one!" McKinney
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri God didn't burden America with different backgrounds and religions, "he BLESSED America." #DNCnatasha korecki
Rep. Chuck Schumer: Romney Sending Us 'Backwards'pbsnewshour
Small Business Owner Speaks to Democratic Convention in Support of President Obamapbsnewshour
Rep Diana DeGette said Romney-Ryan support policy that would ban in vitro fertiliz. We looked at similar claim earlier:
#dnc2012 rep. Luis Gutierrez d-Illinois right after his democratic convention speech Sweet
Sweet blog Rep. Luis Gutierrez Democratic Convention speech. Text Sweet
#DNC2012 Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) at the convention say Mitt obstructionist on immigration reformLynn Sweet
#DNC2012 Rep. Luis Gutierrez delivering impassioned speech for Obama in English and Spanish. Obama took "bold action" for immigrantsLynn Sweet
Luis Gutierrez talks says there's countless stories about injustices done to immigrants: "Good people, torn apart." #DNC2012natasha korecki
Congressman Luis Gutierrez: "Democrats will fight for comprehensive immigration reform." #DNC2012natasha korecki
#2012DNC Rep. Luis Gutierrez at the Democratic Convention podium right now...Lynn Sweet
Watch DNC Video About the Future of Energypbsnewshour
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino: Romney's Values Aren't 'Boston Values'pbsnewshour
Here is the livestream of the entire day's speaking events via the Democratic National Convention organizers.
YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.YouTube
Wednesday Schedule - 2012 Democratic National Convention9AM - 10AM Morning Prayer Gathering (Room 211AB/212AB) 10AM - 12PM Caucus Session #1 Black Caucus (Ballroom CD) Hispanic Caucus (Ballroom...

Previous convention coverage

Looking back at previous coverage of the conventions from Chicago Sun-Times reporters and columnists on the ground in Tampa and Charlotte.
The speeches - Day 1 of the Democratic National Conventionnull
Coverage of the Democratic National Convention by Chicago Sun-Times staffWashington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet (@LynnSweet), Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney (@DaveMcKinney123), political reporter Natasha Ko...
The speeches: Day 4 of the Republican National Conventionnull
The speeches: Day 3 of the Republican National Conventionnull
The speeches: Day 2 - Republican National ConventionA look at some of the highlights from the speeches from Day 2 of the Republican National Convention.
Day 1 at the Republican National ConventionWashington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet (@LynnSweet), Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney (@DaveMcKinney123), political reporter Natasha Ko...

richards.jpg Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards speaks at the Democratic National Convention. | Getty Images

Wait. There's a bad episode of "Mad Men?"

Putting that aside, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards energized thousands who packed into the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte Wednesday night with a reference to the wildly popular dramatic series.

She won laughter and applause when she got off one of the memorable lines of the night, referencing the show based in an ad firm in the 1960s that revels in its dark characters, many of whom are morally conflicted. The series offers a sometimes misogynistic portrayal of men in family life and in the workplace.

"It's like we woke up in a bad episode of Mad Men," she said, criticizing Republicans' efforts when it came to women and health care.

It set the stage for remarks later tonight by Sandra Fluke, the woman who conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh famously referred to as a "slut" because for her use of birth control.

Richards, the daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, told the crowd that the conservative approach on health care was scary, particularly when it came to women's health issues.

In the last four years, she said: "Thanks to Barack Obama, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition in America."


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- He's one of the most recognizable reporters in the country -- satirical Daily Show correspondent John Oliver is here tonight at the Democratic National Convention, and he was drawing a crowd.

Oliver is known for his tongue-in-cheek interviews he dispatches for Jon Stewart.

Tonight, Oliver was interviewing what appeared to be delegates in the hallway of the Times Warner Cable Arena.

The topic? We'll have to wait to see. But the interviewees seemed to have permanent grins on their faces.

(video by Lynn Sweet)


AP Source: Obama personally intervened to change Dem platform language on Jerusalem, God.

4:12 PM9/5/2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Democrats restore references to God and Jerusalem to platform.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Democratic Party's platform makes no reference to God, drawing criticism from Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

Ryan tells Fox News' "Fox & Friends" the change is not in keeping with the country's founding documents and principles and suggests the Obama administration is behind the decision. The Republican platform mentions God 12 times.

The 2008 Democratic Party platform made a single reference to God, referring to the "God-given potential" of working people.

The new platform does contain a plank on faith, saying it "has always been a central part of the American story." The platform says the nation was founded on the principle of religious freedom and the ability of people to worship as they please. It also praises the work of faith-based organizations.

Obama, Sasha and Malia watching 'Mom-in-Chief'

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President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch first lady Michelle Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention in the Treaty Room of the White House. (Photo from the White House)

CHARLOTTE, NC -- Word travels fast when it comes to utterances from House Speaker Michael Madigan -- even if he's making news in a faraway state.

The Chicago Democrat and chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois hinted at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday that a pension-reform deal could surface during a possible lame-duck legislative session next January, when it will be easier to pass bills. Madigan also for the first time suggested a package might pass with only Democratic votes.

On Wednesday, Madigan's GOP counterparts -- House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) -- weighed in on the speaker's remarks, warning that the scenario Madigan hinted at could lead to a big property tax hike for downstate and suburban residents.

"We fear that Democrat leaders' recent comments about passing a pension reform bill in January with Democrat-only votes will lead to a massive property tax increase, just like they shoved through the largest income tax increase on Illinois residents two years ago," Cross and Radogno's joint statement said.

"We can't keep throwing new revenue at our problems, especially from the taxpayers in this state. We remain committed to passing real, comprehensive pension reform in a bi-partisan way that does not include another enormous tax increase on our residents," the GOP leaders said.

The GOP concern is directed at Madigan's continued insistence this week that a pension deal require that downstate and suburban school districts start picking up the state's share of pension costs for educators in those school systems, a cost shift that Gov. Pat Quinn's administration once estimated could free up as much as $20 billion for the state.

Clinton, Warren headline Wednesday DNC speeches

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Former President Bill Clinton and U.S. senate candidate Elizabeth Warren will headline the second day of the Democratic National Convention.

Clinton's keynote address is expected to draw parallels between President Barack Obama's tough first-term decisions and his own presidency, convention officials told CNN.

DNC venue change means bye, bye balloon drop

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The children and grand children of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan enjoy the hundreds of balloons on stage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on August 30, 2012 on the final day of the Republican National Convention. AFP PHOTO

Organizers promise it'll still be a party, but President Barack Obama's acceptance speech Thursday night will not include the usual balloon drop because of a last-minute venue change to avoid foul weather, CNN reports.

PHOTO: President arrives in Charlotte for DNC

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US President Barack Obama greets well wishers upon arrival on Air Force One in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012. Obama is traveling to attend the Democratic National Convention. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

A 'grand slam': Tuesday's DNC speeches, reviewed

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michelle obama.jpg

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Tuesday's opening night at the Democratic National Convention -- anchored by First Lady Michelle Obama's address -- set social media networks ablaze. But what did the pundits think?

From Washington Post Columnist E.J. Dionne:

As a general matter, her speech was a big hit: good enough that even Fox News was kind to her. But the specific stories -- about her father working through the pain of multiple sclerosis, about the debts she and her husband accumulated from college -- served a powerful campaign purpose. A speech that was thoroughly apolitical on the surface carried multiple political messages, linking a very traditional message about parenting with a call for social justice.

Even amid a "blazing lineup" of Chicago political stars making the case for their friend and former boss, the First Lady stole the show, report the Chicago Sun-Times' Dave McKinney and Natasha Korecki:

She ended her speech in a rousing crescendo, playing off the repeated question that at one point was trending on Twitter Tuesday: Were Americans better off than they were before her husband was elected?

Her answer, delivered emotionally and with a few tears: They will be once her husband is finished with it.

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer declared it a "grand slam" while Anderson Cooper's take on Twitter was popular enough to see more than 13,000 retweets:

After her speech, Michelle Obama stopped by the social network herself, asking followers:

Keynote speaker and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro already had the crowd on its feet before the First Lady's address, reported NBC's Chuck Todd:

"Well its the passion that you see throughout the evening. The Republican National Convention, you only saw it in the last hour. It's almost as if they waited for the television cameras to come on. Here tonight it's been passion -- you hear the screams, you hear the yells and the passion here is for the president ... last week passion was against the president more so than passion for Romney."

Politico drew parallels between Castro's rousing address and President Barack Obama's own star-making turn at 2004's DNC, while the Houston Chronicle framed his remarks in context of a broader debate:

[Texas' Republican Senate nominee Ted] Cruz's speech last week [at the RNC] and Castro's address Tuesday night reflect the political battle being waged by both parties not only for the votes of Latinos -- the fastest-growing bloc of voters in the nation -- but for control of the political mystique engendered by the American Dream.

Perhaps the surprise star of the night was Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, slamming his predecessor Mitt Romney in a booming speech that challenged Democrats to "grow a backbone," and not allow Obama to be "bullied out of office."

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday he's confident that "adults can figure things out" on behalf of children and avert Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years.

Convention Weather.jpg
There will be no repeat of this campaign image - with then presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama working in the rain in 2008 - at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File


CHARLOTTE--It took them a while to make the obvious and right choice, but the Democrats announced Wednesday morning they're moving President Obama's speech from the outdoor football stadium to the indoor basketball arena, due to the possibility of it raining so hard people in the stands would have started weeping.

Imagine the metaphoric material the DNC nearly gave to the Republicans on a blue platter. Barack Obama onstage with the rain pouring down, a half-filled stadium of soggy, umbrella-less backers trying to muster up some enthusiasm while praying they don't catch pneumonia. ("Even the weatherman agrees, it's time for Barack Obama to go . . .")

So instead of the Bank of America stadium it'll be the Time Warner Cable Arena, where on Tuesday night Michelle Obama wooed the crowd by bench-pressing Rahm Emanuel 20 times in less than five minutes, and Pat Quinn talked about everything but how things are going back home.

Bill Daley for governor? He doesn't want to talk about it

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Former White House chief-of-staff Bill Daley's name has been floated as a possible Democratic challenger to embattled incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, but don't bother asking Daley about it. He doesn't want to talk about a 2014 run.

CHARLOTTE, NC--Gov. Pat Quinn, who has clashed with Cardinal Francis George over abortion rights and gay adoptions, said Wednesday he thinks "God" should be included in the newly adopted Democratic National Convention platform.

The Christian Broadcasting Network was first to report that the term had been stripped out of the list of party principles, which were approved Tuesday.

In 2008, the party's platform included a reference to "God-given potential." But neither that phrase nor any reference to "God" now exists in the newly approved list of party positions, drawing anger and ridicule from Republicans.

On MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" Wednesday, Quinn told host Chuck Todd that he thinks "God" does belong in the party's platform.

"I think God matters. I think the president is a God-fearing man," Quinn said.

Asked if he thought God should have been inserted in the platform, the Democratic governor said, "In God we trust. That's our slogan for the United States of America. I think we should probably start the platform with that."

Quinn, a Roman Catholic, has skirmished with his church over his policy positions in support of abortion rights and gay adoptions. Last December, Illinois' Catholic bishops admonished the governor for those stances.

"A personal conscience that is not consistent with authentic Catholic teaching is not a Catholic conscience," the bishops wrote at the time. "The Catholic faith cannot be used to justify positions contrary to the faith itself. It is a matter of personal integrity for people who call themselves Catholic to act in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church."

Rahm makes Knute Rockne proud

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CHARLOTTE-N.C.--Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered a powerful testimonial about President Barack Obama's leadership under pressure on opening night of the Democratic National Convention.But, that was nothing compared to the fiery speech he delivered to Il. Delegates on Wednesday. He sounded like a presidential wannabe.

Michelle Obama had her moment in the spotlight of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night. Ann Romney brought her case - and her husband's story - to the podium last week at the Republican National Convention.

Both women have been lauded for their talks with America. But did one or the other make a better speech? Watch below, then vote below.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--The threat of thunderstorms forced Democratic convention planners to move the Thursday night finale at the outdoor Bank of America Stadium--with acceptance speeches by Barack Obama and Joe Biden-- to the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the first two nights of the convention are being held.

From the convention, released Wednesday morning:

"Convention programming, originally planned for Bank of America Stadium on Thursday, September 6, would be moved to Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of the first two days of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, due to severe weather forecasts. The DNCC also announced that President Barack Obama will address community credential holders in a conference call on Thursday. Call information will be emailed directly to community credential-holders.

"We have been monitoring weather forecasts closely and several reports predict thunderstorms in the area, therefore we have decided to move Thursday's proceedings to Time Warner Cable Arena to ensure the safety and security of our delegates and convention guests," said DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan. The energy and enthusiasm for our convention in Charlotte has been overwhelming and we share the disappointment of over 65,000 people who signed up for community credentials to be there with the President in person. We encourage our community credential holders and Americans across the country to continue to come together with their friends and neighbors to watch and participate in history. The President will speak to these credential holders on a national conference call tomorrow afternoon, and we will work with the campaign to ensure that those unable to attend tomorrow's event will be invited to see the President between now and election day."

Rahm gives Il. delegation his best Knute Rockne imitation

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered a powerful testimonial about President Barack Obama's leadership under pressure on opening night of the Democratic National Convention. But, that was nothing compared to the fiery pep talk he delivered too Il. delegates on Wednesday.

rahm.jpgCHARLOTTE, N.C.--Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday defended his decision to cut short, but not cancel his trip to the Democratic National Convention amid the threat of Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years and continued violence on Chicago streets.

"First of all, we are dealing with all that. And the negotiators are at the table where they should be at, as they have throughout the weekend working on the issues and I was with the kids at schools," the mayor told reporters after a fiery pep talk to his fellow Democrats at the Il. delegation breakfast.

"The kids belong in the classroom, should stay in the classroom. They have great teachers. And negotiators should stay at the negotiating table and finish their job."

Dan Hynes not thinking about rematch with Quinn

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Former Il. Comptroller Dan Hynes came within an eyelash of defeating Pat Quinn in the 2010 Democratic primary for governor, but he's not considering a re-run.

Quinn's low approval ratings and his ugly rift with organized labor have some Democrats buzzing about a primary challenge. But, Hynes said Wednesday you can count him out.

"I've not given thought to that at all. Right now, my thoughts are on re-electing the President," Hynes said before the Il. delegation's breakfast.

"I've got a young family and a new job with Ariel Investments. So, that's pretty much my focus."

Asked if he has ruled out a race completely, Hynes said, "Yeah. I'm not really thinking about that....I don't have any political plans right now."

But, that doesn't mean that Quinn will get a pass. Hynes warned the govenor to make amends with labor or risk a damaging backlash.

"We have to recognize that organized labor is a critical ally of the Democratic party. We have some opportunities to, not only strengthen that alliance, but create jobs for our people. And he would be advised to listen" to them.

Michelle in 2016?

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.--First Lady Michelle Obama delivered such a powerful and poignant testimonial on behalf of her husband, it just might be enough to launch her political career, an Illinois Congressman said Wednesday.

If you didn't know Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick -- you do now.

But did you know the Chicago-born governor is the son of Sun Ra Arkestra saxophonist Pat Patrick? According to the Boston Globe, he donated his father's scores, photographs and recordings to Berklee College of Music.

Or that Patrick officiated Rep. Barney Frank's wedding to Jim Ready in Newton, Mass., in July 2012? Frank was the first sitting member of congress to be married to a partner of the same sex, according to The New York Times

Jon Stewart takes on Charlotte

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Jon Stewart teased Charlotte about hospitality, NASCAR and their love of biscuits Tuesday while in town this week taping his Comedy Central fake news show.

During the first taping of four reports this week titled: "Hope and Change 2: Sometimes the Sequel is Even Better ... But Not Usually," Stewart told the audience: "We're so excited not to be in Tampa. Your people are very friendly to the point where I'm beginning to believe it's sarcasm. I'm not comfortable with this type of warmth."

Al Madrigal, a correspondent for the "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" joked about the food in North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer reports.

"Nobody does barbecue like North Carolina," Madrigal said. "Do you know that every food in North Carolina is served on a biscuit? Even the biscuits are served on a biscuit."

The speeches - Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention

Storified by Craig Newman · Tue, Sep 04 2012 19:30:47

Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, on the Truth-O-Meter via @PolitiFactTexasPolitiFact
Rahm Emanuel, Tammy Duckworth trending...Lynn Sweet
Lily Ledbetter: Without Equal Pay, 'We Lose What Cannot be Measure by Dollars'pbsnewshour
Our 2009 report on Obama's signing of the Ledbetter Act #DNCPolitiFact
Ya better off four years later? #DNC2012 Lily Ledbetter says yes. Fought female equal pay for equal workLynn Sweet
#DNC Michelle brother Craig plugging Michelle #JoiningForcesLynn Sweet
#DNC Craig Robinson, Michelle's brother on his brother and sister in law "Values the same in Chicago as they are in Honolulu"Lynn Sweet
First allusion to Todd "legitimate rape" Akin at #dnc2012, two hours, 25 minutes into opening nite of conventionLynn Sweet
Actor Kal Penn Talks President Obama Activism, Need to Votepbsnewshour
@KalPenn #DNC2012 zinged a back at you Clint Eastwood #emptychair #KalPennLynn Sweet
2016. RT"@politicoroger: In what year does Rahm Emanuel run for president? Place your bets now."Mark Brown
@Rahm #Rahm #DNC2012 Obama delivered "the changed we believed in" addressing GOP buyers remorse narrative.Lynn Sweet
@Rahm #Rahm #DNC2012 Rahm "we have a once in a generation president" going through "uncharted waters" with mutliple crisisLynn Sweet
#DNC2012 #Rahm @Rahm at the podium. "From Pres Obama's hometown of Chicago, it is my honor to speak to you about the president I served."Lynn Sweet
Oops...correction ..Sebelius is the Second cabinet member to speak. Interior Sec. Salazar up earlier.Lynn Sweet
"Obamacare is a badge of honor!" HHS Sec. Sebelius #DNC2012, putting her hand over her heartLynn Sweet
"Four more years" crowd chants #DNC2012natasha korecki
Huge roar of applause when mother says she was relieved when Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. #DNC2012natasha korecki
Tammy Duckworth: 'Barack Obama Will Never Ignore Our Troops'pbsnewshour
"their heroism is why I'm alive today" Duckworth said, getting the arena on its feet. #DNC2012natasha korecki
Three standing ovations for Duckworth #DNC2012natasha korecki
Crowd cheering "USA! USA!" for Duckworth #DNC2012natasha korecki
#DNC2012 Illinois House hopeful Tammy Duckworth ...made it to podium without wheelchair--lost legs when Blackhawk copter shot down in IraqLynn Sweet
Our fact-check on Mitt Romney's money in the Cayman Islands #DNCPolitiFact
Former Gov. Ted Strickland: President Obama 'Betting on the American Worker'pbsnewshour
"Where are the women! Where are the women! The women of America are here," Rep. Maloney battle cry at #DNC2012Lynn Sweet
#DNC2012 Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois on the convention stage in House Dem women segmentLynn Sweet
Harry Reid's scorecard on the Truth-O-Meter #DNCPolitiFact
Watch Video Tribute to Former Sen. Ted Kennedypbsnewshour
Tim Kaine's scorecard on the Truth-O-Meter #DNCPolitiFact
Former Gov. Tim Kaine: 'Democrats Get Results'pbsnewshour
Watch DNC Video Message From Former President Jimmy Carterpbsnewshour
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn: With Republicans, Facts Are 'Stubborn Things'pbsnewshour
#DNC2012 Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn packed a punch in going after Romney/Ryan on welfare, Medicare and auto industry.Lynn Sweet
Illinois Gov. Quinn said Mass. was 47th in job growth under Romney. Half True. #DNC2012PolitiFact
Gov. Pat Quinn said under Obama jobs at an auto plant in Illinois soared from 200 to now "employing more than 4,000 ... workers" #DNC2012natasha korecki
#DNC2012 Illinois Gov. Quinn: Romney doesnt talk about being gov. of Massachusetts. Why call him Gov? Quinn wonders.Lynn Sweet
#DNC2012. Illinois Gov. Quinn very aggressive in taking on Romney/Ryan over welfare, Medicare, Janesville auto plant--closed on Bush watch.Lynn Sweet
#DNC2012 Gov. Quinn said Romney wrong on welfare "In Illinois, we know...Obama. We know his record...Work is alway part of welfare reform"Lynn Sweet
#DNC2012 Illinois Gov. Quinn speaking at Dem convention, said Republicans "smeared" Obama's "excellent" record of reforming welfare.Lynn Sweet
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he wants to talk about a "scary subject," to Republicans: "I want to talk about facts." #GOP2012natasha korecki
Donning glasses, Illinois Gov. Quinn takes the stage. #DNC2012natasha korecki
Gov. Quinn gets the big screen treatment. Roeper
Newark Mayor Cory Booker Gives Platform Address at DNCnjtodayonline

Celebrities promote arts, immigration reform at DNC

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John Leguizamo and Rosario Dawson are among the celebrities attending the Democratic National Convention this week promoting the arts and immigration reform.

Leguizamo is part of the nonpartisan Creative Coalition delegation, which advocates for arts funding. Other actors that are part of the delegation to DNC include: Patricia Arquette, Beau Bridges, Rose Byrne, Tim Daly, Wayne Knight, Richard Schiff and Alfre Woodard.

"(Kids) are two-thirds less likely to drop out of school if they have a strong arts curriculum," Arquette told the Charlotte Observer. "And those are kids that we would be paying for to be in jail or to be on welfare, so we might as well pay for them to be in arts classes."

DNC trash turned into artwork

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One man's trash is another man's treasure for some Charlotte residents who are using water bottles, posters and other discarded items from the Democratic National Convention to create art.

The "Recycling/Reseeing" sculpture uses 60 feet of chain link fence to demonstrate the amount of cast-off material accumulated from the convention, the Charlotte Observer reports.

Delegates and fellow Americans, it is an honor to be with you this evening. And it's an honor to represent the great state of Illinois, the home of President Barack Obama.

Tonight I want to talk to you about a scary subject for many, many Republicans. I want to talk about facts. You know, I watched the Republican National Convention last week, and I heard a lot of things that are simply not true.

One of our founding fathers, President John Adams of Massachusetts, once said that "facts are stubborn things." But last week, as they nominated a very different man from Massachusetts, Republicans stubbornly smeared President Obama's excellent record of reforming welfare. They went on and on, pretending that he weakened its work requirement. Everyone knows that is a ridiculous charge. Even the Republican author of "Welfare Reform" says Romney is wrong. Fact-checkers have called this talking point "blatantly false, a drastic distortion and widely debunked," and "a mind-boggling act of untruth telling."

In Illinois, we know President Barack Obama. We know his record. And we know that President Obama has made sure that work is always part of welfare. As an Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama spearheaded welfare reform in the Land of Lincoln. And the fact is, under President Obama, states can get flexibility only if they move 20 percent more people to work.

Let me repeat that for our Republican friends: more people working, not less. Then there's Medicare. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to take away the promise that makes Medicare, Medicare. They want to give seniors a voucher that caps what Medicare will cover and then tell seniors they're on their own for what's left. That would cost seniors thousands of dollars a year. And if they don't have the money, it could cost them their lives. But that didn't stop Romney and Ryan from telling the American people that their plan won't hurt seniors. The fact is, it will. President Obama's plan will protect Medicare and protect our seniors.

Facts are stubborn things. Now, when Paul Ryan got his turn, he blamed President Obama for a plant that closed under President George W. Bush. Here's a fact: when President Obama took office in January 2009, the Chrysler plant in Belvidere, Illinois employed just 200 people. Today, because President Obama saved the auto industry, that same Chrysler plant is employing more than 4,000 American workers.

There's something else the Republicans left out of their convention: any explanation of why they call Mitt Romney "Governor Romney." We already knew this extremely conservative man takes some pretty liberal deductions. Evidently that includes writing off all four years he served as Governor of Massachusetts.

And if you want to know how someone's going to govern the country, look at how he governed his state.

Mitt Romney promised Massachusetts three things: more jobs, less debt and smaller government. Then he left his state 47th out of 50 in job growth, added $2.6 billion in debt and on his watch, government jobs grew six times faster than private-sector jobs. What does Romney promise today? More jobs, less debt and smaller government. But he didn't do it then, and he won't do it now.

From day one, President Obama has told you where he stands, what he believes and what he is doing to make our middle class strong again. America is moving forward under President Obama's leadership--and that's a fact. Now it's our job in the next nine weeks to make sure that the American people know the facts.

Your vote is a valuable thing. Entrust it to someone who respects you enough to tell you the truth. Join me in voting for President Obama and together let's make the will of the people the law of the land.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gov. Pat Quinn went on the attack against Republicans Tuesday during a floor speech at the Democratic National Convention, accusing them of smearing President Barack Obama's record on welfare reform, distorting Obama's record on the auto industry and of trying to dismantle Medicare.

In early August, Republican Mitt Romney debuted a campaign ad that accused Obama of having "gutted" the requirement that welfare recipients seek employment or undergo job training to continue receiving benefits.

"One of our founding fathers, President John Adams of Massachusetts, once said that 'facts are stubborn things,'" Quinn told convention delegates. "But last week, as they nominated a very different man from Massachusetts, Republicans stubbornly smeared President Obama's excellent record of reforming welfare.

"They went on and on, pretending that he weakened its work requirement," Illinois' governor continued. "Everyone knows that is a ridiculous charge."

Quinn also accused Romney and GOP running mate Paul Ryan of trying to "take away the promise that makes Medicare" and blamed Ryan for distorting Obama's record on the auto industry.

In his speech last week, Ryan cited a Janesville, WI automobile plant that he said closed on Obama's watch, but that claim was widely discredited.

"Now, when Paul Ryan got his turn, he blamed President Obama for a plant that closed under President George W. Bush," Quinn said.

"Here's a fact:

"When President Obama took office in January 2009, the Chrysler plant in Belvidere, Illinois, employed just 200 people.

"Today, because President Obama saved the auto industry, that same Chrysler plant is employing more than 4,000 American workers," the governor said.

Illinois Republicans wasted little time in responding to Quinn's speech in a statement belittling his leadership of Illinois since 2009.

"With a failed record of higher taxes, spiraling debt and high unemployment, Pat Quinn is the wrong politician to lecture Americans on who should lead our nation over the next four years," said Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party in a prepared statement.

"Gov. Quinn says Americans should look at how Mitt Romney governed his state. Maybe Americans should look at how Pat Quinn has governed Illinois - pushing forward a 67% tax increase, forcing businesses to leave our state and failing to address the worst credit rating in the nation," Brady said.

(Video by Lynn Sweet)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who speaks at the Democratic convention on Tuesday, calls New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a "bully" and "braggart." This comes after Christie last week, in Tampa for the Republican convention, slashed President Barack Obama for being a product of Chicago ward politics.

I asked Quinn to react to Christie at the Monday Illinois delegate meeting.

"We don't pay much attention to a Jersey Guy like him," Quinn said. Quinn said Christie's convention said more about him than Mitt Romney. "He's a bully, a braggart, and we don't pay much attention to people like that."

Police, protesters end standoff near convention

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dnc protest.jpg

Occupy Demonstrators and police stand in a downtown street during an unscheduled protest march, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C. The Democratic National Convention begins today. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A two-hour standoff between police and protestors defused Tuesday afternoon when police let demonstrators onto a sidewalk near the Charlotte Convention Center, where the DNC is set to begin this evening, the Charlotte Observer reports.

Nearly 300 police officers had blocked off an intersection in front of about 200 marchers who assembled during an unscheduled protest Tuesday. Many in the crowd demanded the release of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier suspected of leaking information to the website WikiLeaks, according to the newspaper. A march organizer -- a North Carolina veteran wrapped in an American flag -- was arrested as he tried to cross a police line.


CHARLOTTE -- It's not as ridiculous as Clint Eastwood telling an empty chair to shut up, but how in the world did Team Obama think it was a good idea to have the president of the United States doing telephone shtick with Harold & Kumar?

I mean, has Mr. Obama SEEN what those guys do in those movies? The pot smoking is the least of it.

In the spot, the somber-faced president dials a number. Perhaps he's calling a foreign leader? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

"Hey, this is Barack," says the president. "Listen, I need to know if you're on board."

DNC speakers: Day 1

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Plenty of faces familiar to Illinois voters will speak at Tuesday's kickoff of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., ahead of the evening's main draw -- First Lady Michelle Obama's prime-time speech.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to speak just after 8 p.m. central time, according to the convention's official schedule. Tammy Duckworth, fighting a tough race in the 8th congressional district against incumbent Joe Walsh, speaks in the 7 p.m. hour, while Gov. Pat Quinn will take the stage after 5 p.m.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will deliver the evening's keynote address after 9 p.m. Chicago time. Giving his introduction is his twin brother Joaquin Castro, a member of the Texas state house who is himself running for Congress for Texas' 20th district.

First Lady Michelle Obama's speech caps off the evening. The Washington Post analyzes her speaking style here, while The Hill reports President Barack Obama plans to watch the speech from the White House with their two daughters.

And music fans, take note: Amber Riley, of the TV show "Glee," will sing the National Anthem shortly after DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz gavels the convention to order. Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ledisi also performs live later in the evening.

A complete list of Tuesday's speakers can be found here.

For DNC rockers, music transcends politics

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Looks like journalists aren't the only ones shuttling between conventions this week. Rock super group Camp Freddy headlined a late-night show in Charlotte Monday, fresh off a Tampa performance during last week's Republican National Convention.

Lead guitarist Billy Morrison tells the Charlotte Observer the band's decision to play at both conventions is a show of bipartisanship -- but mostly just a chance to rock out for attendees who "quite frankly, need a night or two of unwinding and loosening up."

Clinton's speech a mystery to Obama campaign

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None of Obama's campaign officials will be checking out former President Bill Clinton's speech before he gives it on Wednesday night, according to Politico.

Clinton will submit a copy of his speech to Obama senior campaign strategist David Axelrod just before he steps on stage, according to the blog, which is a rare moment of lost control for the campaign. Clinton has been writing the speech by hand-- reportedly without a lot of help from speechwriters-- so his moment may be a wild card in the otherwise carefully choreographed convention.

The former president is expected to defend Obama against attacks alleging the president is chipping away at Clinton's welfare reform bill from 1996.

Photo by Natasha Korecki

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said Illinois could contribute five needed seats this November to boost Democrats into the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"The path to a majority for Democrats runs right through Illinois," she said. "We have the opportunity to pick up -- out of the 25 net seats we need to gain -- we can pick up five here in Illinois -- Danny (Davis) and I will be able to serve in the majority if we do our job here in Illinois."

Schakowsky ticked off a handful of races in Illinois, including the heated 8th congressional race between Tea Party incumbent Joe Walsh and Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

Schakowsky called Duckworth, a veteran who was injured in combat, a "true hero." Duckworth is scheduled to speak tonight at the convention.

"Her opponent, I believe, is an embarrassment to the United States Congress and to the Republican party," Schakowsky said of Walsh. "We can win this race. Joe Walsh is really an accidental member of the house of Representatives, winning by only 200 votes."

Schakowsky said "we have a better district now," referring to the congressional remap, redrawn favorably to the Democrats.

Walsh, of McHenry County, has cast Duckworth as an insider and criticized her for traveling to Charlotte. Walsh did not attend last week's Republican convention in Tampa.

"Ms. Duckworth has continued to show more interest in rubbing elbows with big name party insiders, then staying home and tackling the tough issues facing voters in the district," Walsh wrote on his campaign Web site.

Schakowsky also singled out former U.S. Rep. Bill Foster.
"Bill Foster in the 11th District is coming back. Bill is a great member of Congress," she said. "He is a scientist. We need a little Science in the United States Congress. By the way, Todd Akin is on the science committee, OK? We need Democrats to dominate the science committee, obviously."

Workers make preperations on the stage before the start of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday in Charlotte. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (via Instagram)

CHARLOTTE -- Whether it's the Oscars or the MTV Music Awards or the Democratic National Convention, whenever you enter the arena hosting an event largely made for television, you're always struck by how much better it'll look on TV than it does in person.

All the wires and cables and makeshift workspaces, all the handwritten signs and duct tape, all the equipment, stays off camera. Even the stage, with the banner proclaiming "AMERICANS COMING TOGETHER" and the looming image of the Statue of Liberty, isn't exactly overwhelming. It's maybe "whelming" at best.

Late Monday night, I'm in a short line at a security checkpoint for the Time Warner Cable Arena, just behind a bunch of guys wearing yellow shirts with the Queen City crown logo of Charlotte on the back, along with their job description: "Solid Waste Services." (It immediately brings to mind a variation on the old joke. "Quit? What, and give up politics?")

#AreYouBetterOff Trending on Twitter

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Trending nationally on Twitter is a paid promotion from the Republican National Committee, #AreYouBetterOff:

Obama will speak outside Thursday, rain or shine

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U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at the stadium on the final night of the 2012 Democratic National Convention which the city of Charlotte will host September 3-6. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

While steady rain poured on delegates as they arrived in Charlotte for the convention Monday, Obama campaign officials tell the New York Times the president is tough enough to speak in the rain when he accepts his nomination on Thursday night.

Obama is slated to speak to 65,000 at the open Bank of America Stadium on Thursday night-- though there is currently a 30 percent chance of rain. He'll talk as long as there is no risk of lightening or tornadoes, the paper reports.

GRAPHIC: DNC seating chart

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Screen shot 2012-09-04 at 9.35.15 AM.pngEvery seat is carefully selected at the Time Warner Cable Arena, according to this graphic from the Charlotte Observer.

Some facts:

-Illinois and Delaware delegates have the best seats, front row!
-It cost $7 million to transform the home of the Bobcats into the convention hall.

Check out the chart and decide for yourself who got the worst seats: Arkansas, Wisconsin or Idaho?

Governor Pat Quinn to speak at 6:30 Tuesday at DNC

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Governor Pat Quinn's "intended" time to hit the podium tonight is 6:30 p.m. at the Democratic National Convention.

At this morning's breakfast meeting in the Omni Hotel in Charlotte, delegates were urged to be on the floor, in the hall before that time.

Protesters march on the DNC

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Police officers ride their bicycles on the street outside the Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 3, 2012. MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GettyImages

About 100 protesters participated in a "test" march near the Democratic National Convention site in Charlotte Monday night, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The protesters, who were vastly outnumbered by police, blocked McDowell Street and 11th Street with their march after 11 p.m. Monday. They are based at the Occupy Charlotte camp in Marshall Park.

Police on bicycles and walking among the crowd made sure the group stayed out of residential neighborhoods, the Observer reports. The march lasted little more than an hour, as protesters said it was meant to test the police presence in the convention's host city.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said this November's election has significant implications for the Illinois Statehouse.

There is a cluster of battleground districts throughout the state, he said.

"We are campaigning all over the state for those 6 or 7 incumbents in really tough races," Cullerton said.

"Because of redistricting and shifting of population, not only will be have the reelection of (President) Obama, but the Illinois Senate is going back into the Super majority."

Cullerton also poked some fun at GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who messed up his marathon time.

"He was only off an hour and five minutes," Cullerton said.

Cullerton said that had to be a bald-faced lie because every runner remembers his or her best time down to the second.

It had been awhile for Cullerton but here's his: 3:18:04

Hank Williams Jr. performs in support of Sarah Palin in Iowa in 2008. Mark Hirsch/Getty Getty Images file

Hank Williams Jr. loves to bash President Obama. The fiery, conservative country music icon lost his "Monday Night Football" paycheck last October when ESPN yanked "All My Rowdy Friends" after he compared Obama to Adolph Hitler on "Fox & Friends."

And he's at it again.

"We've got a Muslim for a President who hates cowboys, hates cowgirls, hates fishing, hates farming, loves gays, and we hate him!"

That was Williams' message at the Stockyards Music Fest in Fort Worth, TX, reports Thor Christensen on the Dallas Morning News. The line met with a not-overwheliming response according to the report, though there was plenty of applause.

Obama has been the subject of sporadic, and untrue, accusations of being a Muslim throughout his national political career.

Lisa Madigan blames housing crisis on Republicans

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A loud and spirited Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan hit the mic at full volume this morning, bashing Mitt Romney and the Republican party.

Lisa Madigan said she watched Romney's speech last week and was "bewildered," then didn't hesitate to point a finger.

"He made barely mention of the banking crisis that caused the economy to crash," Madigan said.
She joked that in a stadium filled with Republicans, Romney missed "the elephant in the room."

"It is the Republicans' fault for crashing our economy. It was the Republicans who embraced a wild and free market," Madigan said. "It was the Republican administration ... who ignored the warning from attorney generals like myself."

"An ever growing number of homeowners became houseless. These were good people. These were good Americans. This economy, our American economy, did not have to crash," she said.
"What are we going to do instead? Vote for Barack Obama."

Last week, the Republicans did a bit of the same, repeatedly blasting the Democrats for failing to turn around the economy over the last four years. Romney criticized Obama for not having a record for creating jobs.

Sun-Times political reporter Natasha Korecki is with the Illinois delegates as they listen to Attorney General Lisa Madigan speak before Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention gets underway.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Illinois delegates gathered at a breakfast meeting Tuesday morning-- the first day of the Democratic National Convention -- to rally behind President Obama, but it didn't take long for reality from Chicago to come up.

National president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, raised the issue of the discord brewing between the Chicago Teachers' Union and the city. Weingarten though, didn't mention the word "strike." Neither did Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers didn't speak that word either, but both talked about settling the matter.

"We need to find common ground. We are Democrats, we are people who know how to build," Weingarten said. "We also know ... the teachers of Chicago feel deeply disrespected...and that's what the struggle is about... I know the struggle can be settled and I know we can move forward, and as Democrats we can do that."

Montgomery said if labor gets its way, everyone will benefit.
"You'll see smaller class sizes and better learning conditions, something we all want for our kids," he said.
"What does labor want? I would like more support for Labor from the Democratic party."

No 'convention bounce' for Romney?

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No matter where you look, it seems like Romney didn't gain much ground in the days following the Republican National Convention-- at least not yet.

Gallup polls use seven-day rolling averages of registered voters, and the polls for the week of Aug. 26 through Sept. 1 show Romney at 46 percent and Obama at 47 percent-- right around where they've been for almost the entire polling period since April.

As Gallup's Editor-in-Chief interprets the polls, the Republican convention has had "no impact" so far, though that may change as the next round of polls comes out today. Current polls cover the period during the convention and just two days following, and many experts believe you need more time following the convention to get an accurate reading on the convention's influence.

Speakers for Tuesday's session of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena, as released by the Democratic Party (all times EDT):

  • 5-6 p.m.

  • Call to Order: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chair, Democratic National Committee

  • Invocation: His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas, bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Detroit

  • Presentation of Colors: Disabled American Veterans, The Stanly County Chapter 12 Honor Guard

  • Pledge of Allegiance: 3rd Grade Class, W.R. O'Dell Elementary School, Concord, N.C.

  • National Anthem: Amber Riley, singer/songwriter and "Glee" actress

  • Stephen J. Kerrigan, CEO, Democratic National Convention Committee

  • Welcome video

  • Presentation of Credentials Committee Report from Co-Chairs

  • Bishop Vashti McKenzie, first woman elected as bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

  • Juli·n Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas

  • Presentation of Rules Committee Report from Co-Chairs

  • Kamala D. Harris, attorney general of California

  • Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley

  • Appointment of Convention Officers

  • Gaveling-in of Permanent Chair

  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, chair, Democratic National Convention Committee

  • Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland

  • Andrew Tobias, treasurer, Democratic National Committee

  • Alice Germond, secretary, Democratic National Committee

  • Roll Call for Attendance

  • ------

Dig in to the 2012 platforms for the Democratic and Republican parties:

2012 National Platform

Republican (downloadable PDF)

Hat tip to New York Times editor Jim Roberts (@nytjim)

The Sun-Times has a number of reporters and columnists covering the national, state and local stories in Charlotte at the Democratic National Convention this week.

Each day we'll Storify their tweets, images, video and more as they report the event. Here's a look at what was making headlines and on their radar on the day before the official start of the convention.

You can follow them individually on Twitter as well:

Lynn Sweet (@LynnSweet)
Dave McKinney (@DaveMckinney123)
Natasha Korecki (@NatashaKorecki)
Mark Brown (@MarkBrownCST)
Carol Marin (@CarolMarin)
Richard Roeper (@RichardRoeper)

Coverage of the Democratic National Convention by Chicago Sun-Times staff

Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet (@LynnSweet), Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney (@DaveMcKinney123), political reporter Natasha Korecki (@NatashaKorecki), Carol Marin (@CarolMarin), columnist Richard Roeper (@richardroeper) and columnist Mark Brown (@MarkBrownCST) cover the DNC.

Storified by Craig Newman · Mon, Sep 03 2012 20:15:37

Mark Brown on Rahm Emanuel's shifting Charlotte plans.
Wisconsin right next to American Samoa. Stage left. Roeper
The big stage. Roeper
Ann Romney missed the mark, Illinois Planned Parenthood chief says - Sun-Times PoliticsCHARLOTTE, N.C. - Ann Romney has been called her husband's secret weapon after her flawless floor speech at last week's Republican Nation...
Serving the media elite! Roeper
After the rains, it's a beautiful night in Charlotte. Roeper
My take on "2016: Obama's America" which should have been titled, "1961: D'Souza's Obama." Roeper
AFSCME's anti-Quinn billboard hits the road - Sun-Times Politics: McKinney
'Sluts vote' buttons lampoon Rush Limbaugh, sell big with Illinois delegates - Sun-Times PoliticsIllinois delegate Barbara Brown explains the appeal behind her anti-Rush Limbaugh "Sluts vote" campaign buttons.[Photo by Dave McKinney] ...
Rev. Jesse Jackson: Update on ailing Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. - Sun-Times Politics: McKinney
DNC 2012: @lynnsweet and the Chicago Sun-Times in their Charlotte "newsroom." Ill. delegates bunking w/ Mass. #mapoli Johnson
AFSCME's anti-Quinn billboard hits the road - Sun-Times Politics: McKinney
In Charlotte at a real Chicago Vienna hot dog stand Matt's Chicago Dog With owner Marlys Sweet
Speaker Michael Madigan hints at pension deal in January, possibly with only Democratic votes - Sun-Times Politics: McKinney
Sweet blog Obama's Charlotte challenge Sweet
Rahm Emanuel to cut short Democratic convention trip - Chicago Sun-TimesBY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter Mayor Rahm Emanuel. File Photo. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times Updated: CHAR...
Sweet blog Obama's 2012 convention speech: Not Denver, 2008 or Boston 2004 Sweet
Sweet blog Rahm, Quinn, Durbin host Illinois delegation parties Sweet
Illinois lt gov Sheila Simon recently became chair of democratic lt gov association Sweet
Obama campaign Operation Vote Michael Blake revving up Illinois Democratic convention delegates in Charlotte Sweet
Illinois gov pat Quinn on new jersey gov Christie GOP speech was on "favorite subject, himself " Sweet
Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, joins Gov. Quinn in feting Labor Day at IL Dem breakfast. McKinney
Gov. Pat Quinn can't win re-election without 'making peace' with unions, Ill. AFL/CIO chief warns - Sun-Times Politics: McKinney
Madigan ,Illinois house speaker, dem party chairman praising Illinois gov pat Quinn said he is hit w "undue criticism" Sweet
Betty White v. Clint Eastwood? Petition drive at to recruit her.Golden Girl v. Mr. Make My Day?Carol Marin
It's labor day so Chicago federation of labor sponsoring Illinois delegation breakfast. UAW official speaking Sweet
Illinois state dem party chair/house speaker mike madigan, gov Quinn ai Illinois delegation breakfast in Charlotte , nc Sweet

Columnist Richard Roeper has taken a look at the Dinesh D'Souza documentary "2016: Obama's America," - a right-leaning film the Associated Press has taken to task - which has exploded from showing on a single screen in Houston to more than 1,700 screens nationwide.

Some of Roeper's thoughts:

The success comes despite mostly scathing reviews from that left-leaning, lamestream liberal media and fact-checked articles that cast serious doubts about some of the film's claims. (Before we proceed: yes, I have criticized Michael Moore for the grandstanding, time-shifting, sometimes fact-challenged theatrics in his films.) As the Associated Press has pointed out, D'Souza talks about Obama returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the British as if it were an act of disrespect to our ally, even though the bust was on loan to the Bush administration and was scheduled to be returned. The film also faults Obama for the escalation of the national debt (certainly true) but fails to mention the Bush administration's role in that escalation; claims Obama is sympathetic to jihadists in Pakistan and Afghanistan but never mentions the killing of bin Laden, and paints slanted, incomplete pictures of Obama's views on the Falklands and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

D'Souza's movie is equal parts anti-Obama infomercial, fear-mongering screed and psychoanalysis from afar. Traveling to Hawaii, Kenya and Indonesia, interviewing like-minded academics and a few fringe figures from Obama's past, D'Souza pushes his theory that Obama is an anti-American, anti-colonialist whose father is the dominant guiding force in his life.

. . .

At times "2016" plays like a parody of an anti-Obama film. Ominous music, visuals of storm clouds gathering, a map showing the Middle East becoming "The United States of Islam," split-screen images of the White House and the shack in Nairobi that houses Obama's half-brother.

You can read Roeper's full column here.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Ann Romney has been called her husband's secret weapon after her flawless floor speech at last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa.

But one of Illinois' top abortion-rights advocates and feminists said Monday that the former Massachusetts first lady stumbled badly when it came to talking credibly about women's issues.

"I thought she did well, but she missed the mark on women," Pam Sutherland, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Illinois told the Chicago Sun-Times at the Democratic National Convention.

"She talked about 'We're moms. We're grandmothers. We're sisters.' But she forgot to mention we're businesswomen. We run the economy. We're out in the work field and have to fight everyday for equal pay.

"She missed all those things real women are doing every day to help raise their families," Sutherland said.

sun-times charlotte.jpeg

Chicago Sun-Times staffers at work Monday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. This photo of the team was taken at the Omni Hotel--where the Illinois delegation is based. The Monday delegation meeting produced a heavy load of news--so the team set up shop in the lobby area. From left, standing, columnist Mark Brown, City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman, Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney and Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet. Missing from photo, Political Reporter Natasha Korecki, who was en route to Charlotte when this photo was taken

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --When President Barack Obama delivers his acceptance speech Thursday in Charlotte at the Democratic National Convention--he has the challenge of defending and explaining his record--as well as selling the potential of a second term. My column on this is HERE.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- AFSCME doesn't have dozens of its members deployed here to dog Gov. Pat Quinn's move as was the case a couple of weeks ago at his Illinois State Fair rally, where he was booed off the stage.

But state government's largest employee union has sent a billboard truck to remind the governor it's still not happy he wants to lay off as many as 4,000 workers, cut pension benefits and withhold raises to AFSCME's rank and file.

The truck's first stop was to be a fundraiser by the governor Monday night in downtown Charlotte.

The union's Labor Day protesting of the governor also included a letter to members of the Illinois delegation at the Democratic National Convention, slamming Quinn for trying to "undermine the best interests of working people."

"Please tell Governor Quinn that refusing to honor union contracts, eliminating thousands of good jobs and seeking to place the entire burden of the state's pension debt on employees and retirees has no place in the Democratic Party or its proud history of support for working men and women and the unions that represent them," the letter said.

The correspondence was signed by delegates John Cameron, AFSCME Council 31 director of political and community relations, of Chicago; Joseph Gump, AFSCME Local 3315 political action chair, of Palatine; Dino Leone, AFSCME Council 31 staff representative, of Milan; and Mary Plata, AFSCME Local 3298 secretary-treasurer, of Aurora.

Barbara Brown.jpg
Illinois delegate Barbara Brown explains the appeal behind her anti-Rush Limbaugh "Sluts vote" campaign buttons.
[Photo by Dave McKinney]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sluts vote.

That coarse slogan has suddenly turned gold.

At a frenzied pace, Illinois delegates at the Democratic National Convention have been scooping up buttons emblazoned with the phrase that honors Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke.

The Illinois woman selling the buttons at $3 a pop or two for $5 is Democratic State Central Committeewoman Barb Brown, who is the circuit clerk in downstate Randolph County.

Earlier this year, Fluke was derided by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh as a "slut" for maintaining that birth control pills should be covered by health insurance.

"For someone like Rush Limbaugh, the insensitive brute that he is, to refer to this young woman -- who was just exercising her freedom and speaking out about a policy concern she had -- as a 'slut' was the most degrading thing I ever heard in public life," Brown told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"We are all with her. We are sister sluts if that's what it takes to make the point," Brown told the Chicago Sun-Times.

During the two hours that delegates met for their breakfast meeting Monday, Brown said she sold 100 of the buttons after selling 100 or so the night before.

"It's just been an amazing response," she said.

The buttons even got attention at an airport she was flying through to get to downtown Charlottee - from a security screener.

"At some point, he said, 'Ma'm, I don't understand your button,' and I explained to him what they were. And he said, 'That's going to affect how I vote,'" Brown said. "I thought, perfect, there couldn't be anything better than that."

Democratic National Convention Arrivals Drenched

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Delegates who bothered to watch the week-long weather forecast for Charlotte were advised to pack their umbrellas because of a chance of rain each day, but that doesn't begin to describe the downpours that drenched arriving delegates Monday.

Chicago Police beat a protester in front of the Conrad Hilton during the contentious 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Duane Hall~Sun-Times files

As the 2012 Democratic National Convention ticks off the final moments before swinging into action, The New York Times takes a moment to look back and remind us that these conventions were not always scripted and, certainly, not always tame.

I didn't know they were arresting media. So I just went in the middle of the street thinking that I had a press card and I had my cameras and they'd let me take pictures. I didn't want to get arrested. I just happened to see these demonstrators being dragged -- they were dragging them by their collars and their feet. What was I supposed to do?

I'm just about to snap the picture of a hippie being arrested and all of a sudden seven cops jump on me. And they drag me into the wagon.

That's how New York Times photographer Barton Silverman recounts his experience at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in this Lens post for the New York Times.

Silverman was among a number of journalists arrested as the Chicago Police worked to "preserve disorder," as Mayor Richard J. Daley famously misspoke. The Lens post features a number of images Silverman made through the violent days leading up to Hubert Humphrey's inauguration.

Silverman even managed to keep his cameras as he was loaded into the wagon, taking photos all the way. When he eventually had to hand his cameras off to another photojournalist, they got shots of him being hauled off. Silverman was even sued by a Chicago Police sergeant after taking photos of the cop wading into a group of media and protesters with a flailing club - an image that played not only in the Times, but also on the cover of Life Magazine as the chaos of Chicago's convention became a national story.

The policeman is there to preserve this order

(video by Lynn Sweet)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--The Chairmen of the Board rocked the room at the Democratic National Committee media welcome party.

(Video by Dave McKinney)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--At the Democratic National Convention here, the Rev. Jesse Jackson gives Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney an update on his son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is being treated at Mayo Clinic for a bi-polar disorder and depression.

Smaller Rod:Madigan.jpg
House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich engage in a peace hug at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
[Photo by Lee Milner]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It was the hug to end all hugs.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s strange peace offering aimed at ending the mortal feud between then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) stands as one of the most memorable moments from four years ago when Illinois Democrats gathered in Denver.

Blagojevich, of course, is now in a federal prison in Littleton, Co., while Jackson is being treated for bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic, leaving Madigan the only survivor in Charlotte from that surreal moment from the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

"I thought about that yesterday. Both of those guys are absent now, aren't they?" Madigan said when asked about his memories of that infamous hug.

Pressed on the significance of their absences, the longest-serving House speaker in Illinois history quipped: "Well, you need good staying power in this business, and you're looking at it."

Madigan pension mug.jpg
House Speaker Michael Madigan hints Monday that a pension reform package could surface in January and pass with only Democratic votes.
[Photo by Dave McKinney]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Could a breakthrough on a state pension reform package be on the horizon next January?

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) sure sounded that way Monday when reporters asked for a status on the stalled effort to solve Illinois' $83 billion pension crisis, which last week resulted in a credit downgrade for the state.

Also, Madigan for the first time suggested he might be willing to pass a pension package strictly with Democratic votes rather than rely on non-existent GOP support.

The way it could work is like this: Under the Illinois Constitution, fewer votes are necessary to pass legislation after January 1 than between now and the end of this year.

In the House, for example, 71 votes are needed now for legislation that would take effect immediately. After January 1, that threshold drops to 60. The same thing happens in the Senate, where 30 votes would be needed to pass something after January 1 but 36 now.

"What we're learning in recent years is on these major issues, you do them when you're able to do them. We repealed the death penalty in Illinois. We raised the income tax in Illinois. Those were all done after a general election," Madigan said, referring to two hot-button matters the Legislature passed during a January 2011 session.

"The better question is when are you able to put together 60 and 30 votes to pass a major piece of legislation," he said.

Madigan had insisted on at least 30 Republican votes in his chamber to pass a pension deal, but he appeared to back off that demand Monday during a question-and-answer session with reporters following a breakfast of Illinois delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

"That's always a possibility. That's always a possibility," he said. "Again, you have to be there. You have to work to find 60 and 30 votes. Sometimes they're there. Sometimes they're not," Madigan said when asked about a Democratic-only roll call on pensions.

Madigan has proposed legislation that would raise the retirement age and make state workers choose between keeping either state-subsidized health insurance or an automatic 3-percent annual pension hike during retirement.

He also has insisted on a requirement that suburban and downstate school systems gradually begin shouldering the costs of their teachers' and administrators' pension costs, freeing the state from that financial burden.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One of Illinois' most powerful union leaders predicted Monday that Gov. Pat Quinn could not win re-election in 2014 "without making peace with labor."

Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, implored Quinn to "pick up the phone" and work out his differences with public-sector unions like AFSCME Council 31, with whom the governor is feuding over pension reforms, wage increases and state facility closures.

Quinn's relations with AFSCME, which gave Quinn $575,000 during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, hit rock bottom at the Illinois State Fair last month when union members hounded him off the podium at Governor's Day.

"The fair was tough. AFSCME, particularly, hasn't gotten their raises. They're embroiled in some very hard contract negotiations. The other public sector [unions] were there en masse. They're just taking it to the governor whenever he's out in public. I've been at some labor day events, or labor day weekend events in Illinois, and no matter where I go, whether it's Belleville or Streator, there's dissatisfaction among labor with how the governor's approaching some things," Carrigan said.

The top union leader said it's not too late for Quinn to patch things up with some of the state's most powerful labor groups, but the clock is ticking and that as things stand now he would not win a second full term.

"I don't know he could win a re-election again without making peace with labor," Carrigan said. "But we're ready. We'll be at the table. All it takes is a phone call. Several of the public sector [unions] are here in Charlotte. We can even put that meeting together here if they were so inclined. But the phone call has got to come."

Quinn did hear praise from one top labor leader at the morning breakfast of Illinois delegates attending the Democratic National Convention.

Ron McElroy, director United Auto Workers, Region 4, called Quinn his union's "friend" for his work in bolstering the state's three auto-manufacturing plans and encouraging them to add thousands of new jobs.

"I have nine states that I deal with all the time, and I have one governor that I deal with," McElroy said. "It's Pat Quinn because I know when I call his office, I know we'll get an answer. I know we'll get things worked on. Is it everything we want? No. Is it everything he can deliver, I think so."

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said Monday he's not certain whether his ailing son will stand for re-election.

chicago police charlotte.jpg
Chicago police officer on patrol duty at the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte Convention Center
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--The Chicago Police Department sent a contingent of officers to help out with security at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

On Sunday, I spotted officers from Chicago's Shakespeare and Austin Districts and the academy at the Charlotte Convention Center. A Chicago Police Department spokesman told my colleague, Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman that about 50 officers are in Charlotte and that their salary and expenses will be reimbursed by the host city.

Chicago is returning the favor--Charlotte loaned police personnel to Chicago for the May NATO Summit.

The GOP and Democratic conventions--just as was the NATO Summit--are designated by the Department of Homeland Security as a National Special Security Event. The Secret Service oversees the security plan and coordinates with the various law enforcement and military players.

Teachers strike inevitable, powerful alderman warns

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years is "inevitable" and parents had better be prepared for it, a powerful Chicago alderman warned Monday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and the Chicago Republican Party have at least one thing in common: Both believe Mayor Rahm Emanuel has more important things to do than to attend the Democratic National Convention.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Mayor Rahm Emanuel is hosting a very late "Chicago Rockin' Blues Night here on Wednesday night featuring performances by the Warren Haynes Band, Branford Marsalis, Brad Whitford, and others.

The invite-only party starts after the Democratic convention session, running from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. RE:PUBLIC, 314 N. College Street, Charlotte, NC.

Gov. Pat Quinn is hosting a Monday reception at the Capitol Grille downtown between 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie hosts a Monday desert reception also downtown between 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--State Democratic Party chief and House Speaker Michael Madigan went to bat for Gov. Pat Quinn Monday in the face of attacks against him by public-employee unions and by Republicans aiming to unseat him in 2014.

But the Southwest Side Democrat stopped short of anointing Quinn as his 2014 choice for governor and was his ever-usual cagy self when it came to the future political plans of his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and whether she might be angling for a run for governor.

"Some of us can be a little forgetful, and let us not forget the conditions under which Pat Quinn became the governor of Illinois," Madigan said during the opening-day Democratic National Convention breakfast for Illinois delegates.

"All of Illinois, including the Democratic Party of Illinois, were involved in a terrible scandal. The result of that was Pat Quinn walked in to the governor's office, being required to assume the responsilbities of the governor's office, the responsibilities to manage the affiars of the state of Illinois midstream. At about the same time, the national economy fell apart and state reciepts from the state income tax and state sales tax declined by 25 percent," the speaker said, with Quinn at his side.

"Decreasing services for a Democrat, a Democratic governor, is just a bunch of bad news," Madigan continued. "That's all it is, day after day after day. It's like Chinese water torture. That's what Pat Quinn has been called to do since he [took office].

"He's been the subject of a lot of undue criticism from a lot of different quarters, just depending on what kind of ax they want to grind, many of them being Republicans. We're fortunate Pat was there the time it happened, that he's had the fortitude going on, dealing with one serious problem after another," Madigan told several hundred delegates.

Later, meeting with reporters, Madigan was asked if his comments in support of Quinn should be interpreted as an endorsement for a second full term in 2014, and the speaker wouldn't say.

"We haven't gotten to that yet," Madigan said.

He then was asked about whether his daughter might be interested in running for governor to which Madigan replied: "She'll be here today. You ought to ask her. I don't have any thoughts on that."

Madigan did say he has no intention of retiring and, if she were interested in a 2014 gubernatorial bid, nothing would stop her from aiming for the Executive Mansion while he is in control of the Illinois House.

"Why not?" he asked. "Why not?"

The official list of all the delegates - almost 6,000 of them - is available at But here are the members of the Illinois contingent to the Democratic National Convention, which begins Tuesday.

From the Office of the Secretary:

As Secretary of the Democratic National Committee, I am pleased to share the list of certified Delegation Members to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Their names and state or territory are listed below.

From September 3rd through 6th, Democrats from across the country will come together in Charlotte, North Carolina. We will celebrate the accomplishments of our President and our Party over the last four years and will focus on the work ahead. The 46th Democratic National Convention will be the most open and accessible in our Party's history, reflecting our President's continued power to rally our Party and unite our nation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gov. Pat Quinn plans his own "salute" to unions Monday night at the Democratic National Convention, but the reception he gets may wind up being a compelling storyline on Labor Day.

Quinn was hounded off the stage last month at his Illinois State Fair rally by members of AFSCME Council 31, the union representing the largest bloc of state workers that is protesting his plans to reel in public-employee pensions and state facility closures.

The governor, who will host a salute to labor event Monday night that aides said won't be open to reporters, insisted Sunday that he is a friend of organized labor despite all of the acrimony aimed his direction by AFSCME and teachers unions.

"I was just with the...United Auto Workers. They organize not only our auto plants in Illinois -- we have three of them -- but they also organize Caterpillar and John Deere," Quinn told reporters Sunday evening. "They're pretty happy with my leadership."

The governor said he also is on good terms with trade unions that have benefited from the state's $43 billion capital program.

"As far as teachers go, I believe in education, and I think one way to have more money for education is to reform the pension system. I've told that to every public employee, and some of the members of the government employees union...may not like to hear that, but we have to tell them the truth."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When labor leaders are in Chicago, they hold a Labor Day rally to mark the occasion.Now that they're in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention, Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez will deliver a state of labor address and video at Monday's Illinois delegation breakfast that won't sugarcoat the harsh economic realities many union members are facing.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, framed Mitt Romney Sunday as a backward-looking candidate, blistering his acceptance speech as laying "out the policies of Ground Hog Day."

Emanuel discussed the upcoming Democratic National Convention with David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he was introduced as an "architect" of Obama's first term policies.

"If people want to know about the first term? Very simple. General Motors is alive and well. And Osama Bin Laden is not. And that's what got done," Emanuel said. "Because the president did deal, and they know in fact what he inherited and what he is trying to fix."

Emanuel flies to Charlotte on Tuesday, delivers a convention speech on the opening night of the three day event--and is tentatively booked to make the rounds in a Wednesday morning show blitz.

"He basically laid out the policies of Ground Hog Day. Which is, we are going to go back to the very things that led to a recession, led to a middle class that for the first time in American history in a decade, actually saw their economic security decline," Emanuel said.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--The Democratic National Convention does not officially start until Tuesday--but delegates are arriving on Sunday and the "official" welcome parties are this evening. The convention originally was to cover four days--with a big event at the NASCAR Stadium here--but that opener was dropped months ago--the venue was just too big and too expensive to fill.

Anyway--Charlotte was promised four days of business and Democrats are giving it to them. There is a big "CarolinaFest" on Monday with Democratic caucus group meetings and lots of entertainment--including James Taylor, Jeff Bridges and more. On Sunday night, there are state delegation welcome parties around town.

Illinois is grouped with Delaware, Hawaii, Ohio and Pennsylvania for a welcome party at the Mint Museum Uptown, located in a historic district here.

The Sunday Sun-Times has a package of stories previewing the Democratic National Convention.

Chicago Sun-Times Bureau Chiefs: Dave McKinney, Springfield and Lynn Sweet, Washington, wrap up the Republican National Convention in Tampa before they move from Florida to Charlotte, N.C. where the Democrats kick-off their first convention session on Tuesday.

President Obama chats with patrons at Bob Roe's Point After sports bar in Sioux City, Iowa, during a stop for pizza while on the campaign trail Saturday. Getty Images

While stumping in Iowa, President Obama took a few minutes to duck into Bob Roe's Point After, Sioux City sports bar, to grab a pizza and chat.

The Sioux City Journal reports that the president's motorcade decamped for about 45 minutes as the Iowa-Northern Illinois game was underway. According to the report, Obama got some attention, but the hardcore Hawkeye fans had trouble peeling their attention away from the game:

Many televisions were carrying college football games, with most tuned to the Iowa Hawkeye contest with Northern Illinois. The president moved from table to table, posing for photos, but many people kept taking in their favorite game.

. . .

A few seconds later, a man yelled, "Oh, come on!" On a screen, a play unfolded in which Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois scored on a 73-yard play. Obama finally looked up at the screen to see him complete the final 10 yards of the play, and NIU moved ahead 17-9.

As a replay aired, the president said, "Sorry about that play. I don't want to be associated with that play."

Obama probably hopes the election turns out like the game. The favored Hawkeyes - think incumbents if you will - were forced to pull a last-minute comeback over the upstart Huskies in Iowa's 18-17 win at Soldier Field on Saturday.

Obama was on a tour of battleground states on his way to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., which kicks off this week.

Public pressure has been mounting on the Obama White House for weeks. We want clarity, Mr. President. Your administration owes the American people the truth. We want answers!

What is in your beer?

A social media and petition campaign to have the White House share it's recipe for its custom made homebrew beer finally paid off Saturday when Sam Kass declassified this particular state secret.

Kass, the assistant chef and senior policy advisor for healthy food initiatives, blogged about the beer, it's history - Obama is a homebrew fan it seems - and some of their secrets in development of the three signature brews offered:

Since our first batch of White House Honey Brown Ale, we've added the Honey Porter and have gone even further to add a Honey Blonde this past summer. Like many home brewers who add secret ingredients to make their beer unique, all of our brews have honey that we tapped from the first ever bee-hive on the South Lawn. The honey gives the beer a rich aroma and a nice finish but it doesn't sweeten it.

Sadly, the Honey Blonde recipe was not available. Yet. The American people won't stand for that secrecy for long.

Here are the recipes, or download a printable PDF here: