WASHINGTON--President Obama turns 49 on Wednesday, flying to Chicago in the afternoon and planning to celebrate over dinner with friends, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.
"I think his plans for tomorrow are dinner with some friends in Chicago. And I think he is looking forward to spending the night in his house for a change," Gibbs said.
I'm told that Obama will likely dine at a Chicago restaurant he's been to before with some of his closest pals.
Obama will be coming home solo: First Lady Michelle Obama departs for Spain this week with daughter Sasha, 9 and Malia, 12, is at overnight camp. On Thursday, Obama tours the Ford Plant on the South Side to tout the rebound of the U.S. auto industry and later headlines three fund raisers, one for Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias and two for the Democratic National Committee. In all Obama will draw in millions of dollars of contributions in the three stops.
Meanwhile, Republicans are gearing up for Obama's homecoming. On Wednesday, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) quarterbacks a press conference call for the Republican National Committee to slap "Obama's visit to Illinois and the Obama Administration's "Recovery Summer" tour."
The RNC is also trying to inject convicted fixer Tony Rezko and Obama into the political conversation in the Illinois Senate race--for the seat once held by Obama--following a Sun-Times story headlined, " A new headache for Giannoulias? Another Rezko loan His family bank lent $22.75 million, in newly uncovered deal."
"Mr. President, do you think a $23 million loan to Tony Rezko and Nadhmi Auchi is a "sound loan" too, just as Giannoulias does," the RNC said in a release, trying to whip up some controversy.
The Giannoulias campaign, in reply to the RNC, said in a statement about Giannoulias' rival, "Congressman (Mark) Kirk seems to have misremembered that he is the only candidate in this race to take contributions from Rezko and his convicted associates, and that he also failed to return the donations until late 2006."
On the birthday itself, Gibbs was asked about Obama talking about his hair turning gray.
Said Gibbs, "I can't imagine that the weight of the job doesn't take a toll physically and mentally on anybody that does it. But at the same time, I think he's still -- I would say he's still in pretty good shape and is having -- is enjoying the job even with its many challenges. He knew what he was getting himself into in deciding several years ago to undertake this.
"There's no doubt that it takes an enormous physical and mental strain on making the decisions that you make, on sending young men and women off to war or tackling the greatest economic calamity our country has faced since the Great Depression. But I know he greatly enjoys it, and it will just require him to get more frequent haircuts."