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Obama Chicago homecoming: Oprah and Alexi, $2.5 million for Democrats

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Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch, on pool duty this morning in Chicago, reports that at 7:30 a.m. Chicago time Obama left his Kenwood home for a workout at the nearby Regents Park high rise. The pool, at the Obama home at 5:30 a.m., enjoyed a sunrise over Lake Michigan. Last night pooler Pallasch reported on the Obama birthday dinner at the graham elliot restaurant, where the guests included Oprah Winfrey, her pal Gayle King, White House Senior Advisor and pal Valerie Jarrett and buddies Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker.

Obama will raise about $2.5 million for Democrats during his Chicago visit. That's about $1 million expected for the Alexi Giannoulias Democratic Senate campaign from an event at the Palmer House and $1.5 million for the Democratic National Committee from a reception at Chicago's Cultural Center (I worked at the bindery on top floor one summer when the building was still the main Chicago Public Library; it was so hot up there that after three people fainted--at least this is how I remember it--we were allowed to go home) and a $30,400-per-person dinner at the home of developer Neil Bluhm.

Click below for the Pallasch roundup on the Obama Chicago trip.

President Obama arrived in his adopted hometown of Chicago for a rare visit in which he hopes to combine business and pleasure, having a birthday party for himself with Oprah Winfrey and others and touring a Ford factory he cites as an example of how his stimulus plan has helped the economy.

Perhaps most important, Obama is here to raise money for his basketball buddy, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who is in a tight race to win Obama's old Senate seat. Obama may try to work in a basketball game while he's here.

Obama shook hands with Gov. Quinn and Mayor Daley after landing Wednesday at O'Hare. Democratic Representatives Mike Quigley and Jan Schakowsky were also there. Obama was accompanied by chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and "first dog" Bo.

Obama's wife, Michelle, and daughter Sasha are on vacation, and daughter Malia is at overnight camp. Obama choppered downtown from O'Hare, with Daley joining him. They landed at Soldier Field in a light rain at 5:27 p.m. South Lake Shore Drive motorists had to wait for the president to pass before finishing their commutes home.

A smattering of onlookers lined the streets of the president's Kenwood neighborhood to wave and cheer. Some held umbrellas.

One girl on Obama's street held a sign that said, "Happy 49th Birthday, Pres. Barack Obama."

Another girl held a sign that read, "Happy Birthday, Mr. Pres."

Less than 1½ hours after Obama arrived at his South Side home, he was back on the move, headed out for a dinner with friends. His motorcade drove him to Graham Elliot, a River North eatery that bills itself as "Chicago's first 'bistronomic' restaurant, juxtaposing four-star cuisine with humor and accessibility."

His dinner guests included Jarrett, University of Chicago Hospital Vice President Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt, president and CEO of the Parking Spot, according to the White House press office.

Obama arrives in Chicago as a jury deliberates the guilt or innocence of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, accused of trying to profit from his power as governor to name a temporary replacement to the Senate seat once Obama was elected president.

A jury verdict while Obama is in town could steal the limelight from the president's visit and prove awkward for him.

Last week, sources in both parties said Giannoulias and the DNC were having trouble filling the rooms for the fund-raisers. But as of Wednesday, Giannoulias campaign treasurer Harvey Wineberg said the Giannoulias fund-raiser today at the Palmer House Hilton was oversold. They hope to raise $1 million from about 350 guests paying $1,000 to $2,400 each.

That would be more than double what Giannoulias raised in the last quarter, coming off the bad news about the government shuttering and selling his family's Broadway Bank.

The DNC hopes to raise another $2.5 million from a $250-a-plate event at the Chicago Cultural Center and a more exclusive $30,000-a-ticket gathering for 50 people and Obama at the home of real estate mogul Neil Bluhm.

Giannoulias' Republican opponent, Rep. Mark Kirk, just wrapped up a tour of Downstate Illinois.

Kirk was named in a Wall Street Journal Web story as the No. 2 recipient in Congress of Wall Street money during the recent battle over Obama's Wall Street reform bill.

1 Comment

Why are Dems who raise millions for campaign's praised and private business people who earn millions demonized?

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 5, 2010 8:12 AM.

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