pool report from Alexi Giannoulias fund-raiser at Chicago's Palmer House Hilton....
First fundraising stop--POTUS and Giannoulias: Thirty-four white linen-clothed tables of 12 filled the State Ballroom on the fourth floor of the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in the Loop, a room that is a miniature version of the balconied and chandeliered Grand Ballroom at the Hilton and Towers on south Michigan Avenue. Outside the neighboring Miller's Pub, the marquee reads, "Welcome home Mr. President." No word on whether they would have offered him a post-birthday discount on the ribs.
Among the more noticeable guests at the $1,000 to $2,400 per person luncheon, Gov. Pat Quinn, Reps. Janice Shakowsky, Danny Davis and Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill., state Comptroller Dan Hynes, state Secy. of State Jesse White, Illinois state Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker and Democratic chairman state Sen. James Meeks, defeated Democratic primary Senate opponent David Hoffman and Dennis Gannon, former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Lunch was salad with a bleu cheese wedge, followed by glazed fowl of an unidentified nature and broccoli. Cheesecake and berries for dessert.
Mayor Richard Daley was first on the stage and repeatedly referred to Giannoulias as "Alex" instead of "Alexi." Daley led applause for Obama's 49th birthday yesterday and said, "His policies and leadership helped the nation avoid another great depression." Giannoulias called Daley, "my friend" and the "finest mayor" in the country.
Giannoulias came on stage at 12:37 pm. and said the country was less than 90 days "from a truly seminal election." He frequently referred to Bush-Kirk economic policies involving "greed that brought this country to our knees." Giannoulias also said Kirk was "getting a lot of attention for the fictions and untruths" about his military and personal life and called it "very troubling." But Giannoulias also said "more troubling" was support for Bush budgets.
"Are we going to send people to Washington to get things done, or will we elect those whose only objective is to obstruct and deny the achievements of the other party?" Giannoulias said. "That's what this race is all about." He concluded his remarks at 12:52 to introduce POTUS.
POTUS addressed the audience from a stage at the east end of the ballroom from a lectern with teleprompter, U.S. and Illinois flags behind him. He hugged Giannoulias before Giannoulias sat down, to the president's left in a black leather chair. Check transcript for exact quotes but here are a few:
"It is good to be back home. It is good to be back home and I am so proud to be standing here with the next senator from the great state of Illinois, Alexi Giannoulias," Obama said.
"Alexi is my friend. I know his character. I know how much he loves this country. I know how committed he is to public service for all the right reasons," the president said. "He's not doing this to help lobbyists. He's not doing it to help special interests."
Obama added, "You can trust him. You can count on him."
"We need fighters like Alexi in Washington because, I don't know if you've noticed, we've got a lot of work to do," he said. "The last few years have been incredibly challenging for the United States."
POTUS remarks finished at 1:16 pm.