My colleague Abdon Pallasch, the Sun-Times political reporter, kept an eye on presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Sunday and filed a Chicago-style pool report....
Pool Report by Abdon Pallasch
Sunday, June 29,
Day 2 of the Barack Obama protection pool
They said there was no public schedule today and that proved accurate -- No
news. We never got closer to Obama than about 30 feet as he got into or out of
his Chevy Suburban.
At about 9:30 a.m., Obama left his home in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and
went for a workout at his friend’s Mike Signator’s building. He wore his black
White Sox cap; a gray T-shirt and black workout pants. He only stayed about 15
minutes. Press staff was unsure whether he worked out or just hung with his
From there, we drove to the Hyde Park Hair Salon, where he went in for his
usual trim just after 10 a.m.
An Obama ’O8 sign hung in the window next to the rotating blue- and red-striped
Obama picked up and quickly scanned first the Chicago Sun-Times, then the
Chicago Tribune and finally the New York Times during his haircut, said his
barber, Zariff (That’s the whole name).
“He was in a good mood, very relaxed,” Zariff said. “It was his regular cut. He
comes in every week or two. If I let him go too long, it gets kind of bushy.”
The few clients and other barbers in there engaged in cordial conversation with
Obama, Zariff said.
“We’re all very excited. It’s hard to keep our compusure but we try,” he said.
Stepping out of the barber shop, Obama hugged one friend, then heard applause
from a fan on the United Church of Hyde Park steps across the street. A woman
and two children ran across the street to shake his hand.
He had his Sox cap back on so we couldn’t see the haircut. Chicago is in the
middle of the Cubs-Sox crosstown classic. The Cubs won the first three at
Wrigley Field then the South Siders won the next two at the field formerly known
as Comiskey Park. Game 6 will start at 7 p.m. CST. Obama, a South Sider, has
always worn his Sox loyalty on his sleeve (in contrast to his Democratic primary
opponent, who struggled during the Cubs-Yankees playoffs last year.)
Obama headed back to his house to pick up Michelle and the girls, then headed up
to the East Bank Club to shoot hoops with, amonth others, Chicago Public Schools
CEO Arne Duncan and Obama’s friend Reggie Love. Top adviser Valerie Jarrett also
was there, but apparently was visiting with Michelle and the girls and not
participating in the game, she said. Your pooler was not allowed to watch the
He stopped home then headed off to a barbecue at the South Shore home of his
long-time friend Dr. Eric Whitaker, who he has known since their days at Harvard
-- Whitaker was working on a master’s in public health while Obama worked on his
law degree. Whitaker has a big side yard with huge swingset, soccer nets, and a
basketball hoop and kids could be seen running around, screaming, having fun.
The slam against Chicago reporters is that we are so Tony Rezko-fixated we can’t
write an innocuous pool report about a barbecue without dragging Rezko’s name
into it. Not wanting to disappoint, here’s today’s Tony Rezko mention:
Whitaker was named director of the state department of Public Health after Obama
recommended him to his friend Tony Rezko, who was screening applicants for top
state posts for Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Rezko was later convicted of mail fraud
for influence-peddling in the Blagojevich administration. Whitaker and Obama
were never implicated in the case.
Here’s what Obama told the Sun-Times when asked about people he recommended to
Rezko for state posts
“I think we submitted just a list of people that were mostly, you know, some of
them were people who’d sent us resumes in the past or other people we thought we
might be interested but they weren't people who were connected to our political
organization in any meaningful way. Or they weren't people I knew particularly
well. The one exception I do remember talking to Tony about was Dr. Eric
Whitaker, who was a longtime friend of mine from Harvard. He and I played
basketball together when he was getting his masters in public health at Harvard,
while was at law school there. He had expressed an interest in that job. He did
contact me, or Tony contacted me, and I gave him a glowing recommendation
because I thought he was outstanding.”
After leaving the state post, Whitaker served as executive vice president for
strategic affiliations and associate dean for community-based research at the
University of Chicago Medical Center, where Michelle Obama was also a
We’re still outside the barbecue. But I’ll file this now presuming there will be
no (more?) news today. If there is, I will send out an update.
Abdon M Pallasch