Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) hauled in $1.7 million at a Lincoln Park fund-raiser on Thursday night, the first of two events at private homes in Chicago. Referring to his rumor-fighting drive, Obama said of his rivals: "They’re going to try to make me into a scary guy. They’re even trying to make Michelle into a scary person."
One guest wrote "Hussein" as his middle name on his nametag as a joke, sort of a try to desensitive people to Obama's middle name. “They have these wonderful stickers that said, ‘Rick Hussein Fizdale,’” Mr. Obama said. “The theory was, we’re all Hussein.”
Under the new Obama campaign policy of allowing press to cover all fund-raisers--which I had been pushing for--here is the pool report of the funders by Julie Bosman of the New York Times with additional material provided by Abdon Pallasch of the Chicago Sun-Times.
TIME: 6:45pm CT-9:45pm CT
EVENT: Barack Obama Fundraisers in Chicago
*Short addition from Abdon Pallasch, Chicago Sun-Times included on the bottom.*
Senator Barack Obama appeared at back-to-back fundraisers in Chicago Thursday evening.
Venue one was a benefit for the White House Victory Fund, at the home of Sara and James Star in Lincoln Park. The entrance fee: $28,500 a head. Sixty people attended. Total estimated haul: $1.7 million.
Before Mr. Obama arrived, the guests waited on the first floor of the incredibly large and ornate home, eating mini beef tenderloin burgers and drinking white wine and Champagne. Mr. Obama arrived at 6:45, mingled for a while, talked to nearly everyone in the room (by his own estimate) and then moved upstairs to speak in a large, cathedral-ceilinged room decorated with oil paintings and a large bronze sculpture of a crouching insect.
Mr. Obama thanked everyone for their longtime support. “There are people in this room who were with me for my first state Senate race,” he said. “My main job here is to just say thank you.”
There were a few of his most notable friends and fundraisers in the room, including Penny Pritzker and Valerie Jarrett.
Mr. Obama promised that because he was in the company of friends, he would not make a long speech. In the end, he spoke for about 20 minutes, talking about how the country was hungry for change, how he intends to win, how John McCain represents the past and how there are “seismic shifts taking place in the world.”
Mr. Obama talked briefly about tax policy, telling the group that in Mr. McCain’s tax proposals, one-fourth of these new tax cuts would go to people making $2.8 million or more in salary. He wisely did not ask for a show of hands in this $25,000-a-head-crowd to see who makes that much money, as he did earlier in the day at an event in Wisconsin.
At one point, Mr. Obama looked around the room for Rick Fizdale, a contributor who five minutes earlier had quietly slipped outside and left. Mr. Fizdale, a former Leo Burnett executive, had left wearing a homemade nametag bearing the words “Rick Hussein Fizdale.” (Everyone else wore printed nametags.)
“They have these wonderful stickers that said, ‘Rick Hussein Fizdale,’” Mr. Obama said. “The theory was, we’re all Hussein.”
He went on: “But that accurately captures, I think, the strategy. Come on. They’re going to try to make me into a scary guy. They’re even trying to make Michelle into a scary person. Right? And so that drumbeat – we’re not sure if he’s patriotic or not, we’re not sure if he is too black. I don’t know, before I wasn’t black enough. Now he might be too black. We don’t know whether he’s going to socialize – well, who knows what.”
After telling everyone that the race is “three-quarters of the way done,” he finished speaking, and there was coffee, fruit parfait, cheese and crackers.
Venue Two was the home of Leah Missbach Day and F.K. Day in the West Loop, right across the street from Harpo Studios. Most of the guests paid $2,300 each to attend, and roughly 150 people were in attendance. The hosts listed on the invitation were as follows: Tim Blumenthal, John Burke, Patrick Cunnane, Stan Day, Steve Flagg, Chris Fortune, Jeff Frehner, Chris Lambiase, Steve Meineke, Mike Mercuri, Marc Sani, Mike Sinyard, and Mike Van Abel.
The fundraiser was held in a sprawling, two-story loft apartment decorated with an iron-accented, exposed-brick motif that could safely be called Western-rustic-industrial. A pet bird flew freely around the room. The “Yes We Can” video played on a large television screen. Waiters passed hors d’oeuvres – crab salad in pastry, tuna tartare, cheddar puffs – on cedar planks.
Mr. Obama arrived at 8:30 p.m., and was introduced by F.K. Day, the president of World Bicycle Relief, a charity group that promotes sustainable bicycle use. Standing on a slightly raised platform in the corner of the loft, Mr. Obama first acknowledged the obvious: this was a seriously bicycle-friendly crowd. Many of the people in attendance wore large royal-blue bicycle pins. Greg Lemond, the Tour de France winner, was there, along with his wife, Kathy, whom Mr. Obama pointed out in the crowd.
“This was the fittest host committee that has ever organized an Obama event,” Mr. Obama said.
He paused to mention his much-photographed bike ride with one of his daughters last Sunday. “There was no setup,” Mr. Obama promised. “I was not trying to pander to this crowd.”
When one bicycle enthusiast yelled out, “Thanks for wearing a helmet!” Mr. Obama suggested that before donning the helmet, he remembered one of the cardinal rules of politics: never allow yourself to be photographed wearing nerdy headgear.
“I had an internal debate,” he said. “Because I knew that the A.P. was going to take a picture, and they were trying to portray it like Dukakis wearing that tank helmet. But I wanted to make sure that the children who saw that picture knew that even the Democratic nominee for president wears a helmet when he goes biking. (Hearty applause.)
“Now, obviously the rest of my apparel was apparently not up to snuff, because I got a hard time from all sorts of blogs,” he said, “Who said I looked like Urkel.”
After Mr. Obama finished his speech, he took three questions: one on nuclear power, one on his urban agenda, and one on conflict in the Middle East.
Then, after giving thanks to the donors, he shook some hands and posed for pictures.
The New York Times
From Abdon Pallasch, Chicago Sun-Times
Among the big-name Obama donors at the fund-raiser at the Lincoln Park home of Jamie and Sara Star were Obama's national finance chair Penny Pritzker, his Illinois finance co-chairs Jim Crown and John Rogers; Crown’s parents Lester and Renee Crown, developer Neil Bluhm, and ComEd CEO Frank Clark.
The New York Times