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September 2010 Archives

WASHINGTON--Mayor Daley said he is will not annoint a successor--but the mayor, who is not seeking another term, had nice things to say about mayoral hopeful Gery Chico, the City Colleges chief and nothing special to mention about White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel who jumps in the race this weekend.

Daley, interviewed by Phil Ponce on WTTW-11's "Chicago Tonight" on Wednesday was asked "Do you feel a special bond with Rahm Emanuel?"

Daley said, "I feel with all of them - Gery Chico's closer to me than anyone else."

Ponce: "When was the last time you spoke with Rahm?"

Daley: "Maybe a month ago, two months ago. I spoke yesterday to Gery Chico."

Ponce: "What did he say to you or you say to him?" Daley: "Oh, he's running, I'm glad. He's a wonderful public servant, worked for me in a variety of capacities, chairman of the city colleges, did a tremendous job, spends a lot of time and effort on that."

WASHINGTON--President Obama is giving White House chief of staff and Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel a going away gift: he will elevate Emanuel's departure from his administration by making the announcement--sure to be nationally televised--at 11:05 a.m. on Friday from the East Room. The stature enhancing send off will give Emanuel video he can use on his campaign website and in commercials if he chooses. But don't confuse the upgraded departure announcement with an official endorsement. Even though Obama has said Emanuel would make an "excellent" mayor--it's not an endorsement. I hear there is an internal debate in the White House if Obama will get involved in the mayor's race.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs--under the crazy way this business works sometimes--said at the briefing today that Obama will have a "personnel announcement" on Friday. He declined to say who, and I asked him why the need for the charade, but since we all know by know--various sources have told me--that Emanuel is quitting to run for mayor of Chicago--there was no point in badgering him more.

Anyway...Gibbs, let up a bit more of information---Obama will announce that someone is going (that's Emanuel) and someone is coming--that would be Pete Rouse, to be tapped as interim chief of staff.

Here's the exchange:

Robert Gibbs: "I will say that the president will have a personnel announcement
tomorrow at 11:05 a.m. from the East Room. We will save the specifics
for then. And we'll be happy to get into a long conversation about
that. I don't have any news on that to make at this --

Lynn Sweet: So why the restraint? I mean, everyone knows what this is
about. Why can't you just tell them?

Gibbs: I -- Lynn, I read your paper. I've read a number of
papers. I'm here to tell you the president will have a personnel
announcement tomorrow, and at that point he will deliver that news.

Q So reports are correct.

Q Has the chief of staff told the president that he's

MR. GIBBS: I -- I'm not going to get into that.


Q Can you --

Lynn Sweet: Why is this raising to the level -- you know, sometimes you
make personnel announcements just by paper, you make a release. Why
is this announcement rising to the level of a personal announcement by
the president?

Gibbs: Well, I -- without getting into what the announcement
will be -- (laughter) --

Lynn Sweet: I mean, you know, when people listen to this, (does ?) this
sound like a game --

Q This is -- (inaudible).

Lynn Sweet: -- since we're talking about Rahm Emanuel's departure to
run for the mayor of Chicago. So --

Gibbs: Lynn, come up here. You should brief, and
we can -- look, guys, I know -- I --

Lynn Sweet: I'm -- I'm trying to move the ball along here.

Gibbs: I -- we all have deadlines. I understand that. I'm
happy to talk about a whole host of subjects today. I am not going to
move a whole lot on what I've already said.

WASHINGTON--A rap on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is that he was instrumental in killing the public option in the health care bill--an assertion that has roiled the progressive community and unions and has implications on Emanuel's run for mayor of Chicago--which he will launch this weekend.

Like many narratives in Washington, it's not the whole story. Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said emphatically "no, no, no, no," on Thursday when I asked her if Emanuel killed the public option--and what it is like to work with Emanuel at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

On the battle for the health care law, Sebelius said Emanuel,
was "more in the tactical, how do we get from here to there, you know, what is the pathway, what's the vote look like, who do we need, who don't we have, and he was very hands on in every step of that process."

The fact is that President Obama realized early on that there was not enough political support for the public option--so he moved on to crafting legislation that Congress would pass. Obama has said so many times--again this week-- as his signature health care law marked its six-month anniversary and many consumer protections are becoming available right now.

I'm told by someone who was close to the internal White House health care debate--not Sebelius--that Emanuel did argue against the public option from Day One in the health care fight --not on the policy, but cause he saw it as a fight the Obama White House could not win. Emanuel was in favor of a smaller, less expensive bill. It is true that Emanuel was not pre-disposed to go out of his way for the progressive wing--especially if is was for what he saw was a lost cause--he was more allied with the Democratic centrists in Congress.

But at the end of the day Emanuel--and Obama wanted a new health care coverage law and they got one.

President Obama will announce Emanuel's departure from the White House on Friday--if all goes as planned--and Emanuel jets back to Chicago over the weekend to launch his mayoral campaign--kicking it off with a "listening tour" of the city's neighborhoods.

As Emanuel closes out his historic run in the Obama White House as his first chief of staff, I asked Sebelius about him. On Wednesday, I also asked Admiral Mike Mullen about Emanuel, and I'll recap his comments here, to be part of the historic record.

I asked Sebelius what it is like to work with Emanuel, what is his style and what deals he cut that were important to getting the health care bill passed. Here's what she said:

Emanuel is "never boring. He's active, he's engaged, he's got ideas about everything and is really involved in everything as a chief of staff should be in terms of, you know, a wide range of topics.

"His dealing in the health care area was I would say not as much deeply involved in the policy decisions, the president really did that.

"There were a number of times along the way that you know, the president would be very engaged in making a policy choice but (Emanuel was involved) more in the tactical, how do we get from here to there, you know, what is the pathway, what's the vote look like, who do we need, who don't we have, and he was very hands on in every step of that process.

"And it was an interesting and somewhat torturous process because it changed a number of times."

I pressed Sebelius on Emanuel's style--as he starts a run for Chicago's chief executive.

"Rahm is 24-7 all the time. If he has an idea, it should have (been) done yesterday or the day before. So it's a pretty--just call it fast pace--is an underestimate."

Does he deserve blame for killing the public option, I asked.

Said Sebelius, "no, no, no, no."

10TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT | Battle for the center in North Shore race to replace Kirk


Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter

CHICAGO--The North Shore suburban 10th Congressional District is wealthy, socially liberal, and for the last 10 years has sent a self-styled moderate Republican, Mark Kirk, to Washington.

WASHINGTON--Rahm Emanuel will kick off his Chicago mayoral campaign with a "listening tour" of the city's neighborhoods--to start when he jumps in the high-stakes race for mayor over the weekend.

President Obama is expected to personally announce Emanuel's departure on Friday from the White House--and Emanuel will fly to Chicago over the weekend to finally say he is in the race and to throw himself into the campaign with vigor.

Emanuel's "official" announcement will come later--after the listening tour phase--which Emanuel will use to stock his Chicago issues portfolio.

The listening tour gives Emanuel an on-ramp back into Chicago's neighborhoods--and lets him re-introduce himself to the city on a personal basis. While Emanuel is famous in Washington--he has a lot of work to do for people outside of his old House district to get to know him. The listening tour also plays perfectly in a contest where Emanuel--or any other major contender--must forge a white-African-American and Hispanic coalition in order to survive the Feb. 22 primary and get in the April 5 run-off.

WASHINGTON--White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel--poised to leave the White House as early as Friday to run for Chicago mayor--was described Wednesday by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as "incisive," "direct," "engaged" and "undeterred."

I asked Mullen about Emanuel at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. Emanuel and Mullen are central figures in "Obama's Wars," the new Bob Woodward book--portrayed at odds over Afghanistan troop levels.

What was Emanuel's style in those meetings? How did he get people to make decisions, I asked Mullen.

"I have found him incisive, direct, engaged and often times," said Mullen, who was interrupted by another reporter who said "Profane?"

"Actually not. Actually not, said Mullen, who picked up his train of thought on Emanuel, "and undeterred and I mean and somebody who I think has contributed significantly. That's about all I will say."

Watch for Obama to preside over the announcement--which could come on Friday--that Emanuel is departing from the White House. I'm told by insiders that Obama is likely to make the announcement from the Rose Garden--weather permitting, otherwise the Obama goodbye will be from inside the White House. Obama is expected at the same time to tap senior advisor Pete Rouse as the interim chief of staff.

As for Woodward's book--Mullen said he has not read it.

WASHINGTON--Watch for President Obama to preside over the announcement--which could come on Friday--that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is departing from the White House. Emanuel is all but certain to jump immediately into the race for Chicago mayor. I'm told by insiders that Obama is likely to make the announcement from the Rose Garden--weather permitting, otherwise the Obama goodbye will be from inside the White House. Obama is expected at the same time to tap senior advisor Pete Rouse as the interim chief of staff.

Don't expect any formal announcement from Emanuel on Friday--it would not be smart politics to launch a Chicago mayoral bid from Washington. He knows that the smart political move is to be in Chicago--with all the local press--to jump in the race. Emanuel--who has not been in Chicago since Mayor Daley announced on Sept. 7 he would not seek another term--nor heard from-is expected to return to Chicago over the weekend to informally launch his bid for mayor.

Fox News Poll shows the Illinois Senate race continues to be a dead heat:

From the poll: "Republican Mark Kirk took 42 percent and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias 40 percent in the latest Fox News battleground poll of likely voters. As evidence of voter dissatisfaction, 9 percent were undecided and 7 percent back Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones."

WASHINGTON-- It was not official political business--but the conference call hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday could help Democrats in the November mid-term elections. Mrs. Obama--with Dr. Mary Wakefield, the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, briefed about 1,000 nurses on the new benefits of the health care law--six months old this week. My story on this outreach effort is here.

click below for Obama, Wakefield transcripts

WASHINGTON--Vice President Biden is headlining his second fund-raiser for Democratic Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias on Tuesday--in New York City. Biden was in Chicago earlier this summer for a Giannoulias event--with the action moving to Manhattan in order for Giannoulias to tap into another stream of donors. Giannoulias also hit Miami this week in his quest to catch up with GOP rival Mark Kirk for campaign cash.

WASHINGTON-- GOP Senate nominee Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has lived in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park for years--went to New Trier high school in Winnetka--and launched his Senate bid from his one-time family home in Kenilworth.

But when it is time to pitch Downstate Illinois voters, in his newest ad, released on Tuesday, Kirk's North Shore suburban years aren't in the script. The facts, from Kirk's bio on his House website: Kirk was born in Champaign and grew up in Chatham, Downers Grove and Kenilworth.

Trying to drive a wedge between Downstate and Chicago voters is a well used--even standard--Illinois campaign tactic.

What Kirk selectively mentions about himself in his spot:

"Mark Kirk: born in Champaign, attended college in Carlinville with mainstream Illinois values.

"Mark Kirk was born in Champaign on September 15, 1959.

"Kirk attended Blackburn College in Carlinville for his Freshman Year from 1977-1978."

What Kirk says about Senate Democratic rival Alexi Giannoulias in his ad:

"Chicago politician Alexi Giannoulias pushes for more spending...bigger government...promises to raise taxes to pay for it."

The good news for Giannoulias in the spot: Giannoulias gets upgraded from Kirk's usual "mob banker" title to mere "Chicago politician."

click below for script:


WASHINGTON---White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel--expected to step down this week to launch a run for mayor of Chicago--tried and failed to persuade his tenant in his Chicago home to move out so Emanuel could move back in, reports my Sun-Times colleague Michael Sneed.

Here's my update, from a souce close to Emanuel: "It's clearly an inconvenience for Rahm and for the current tenants--but it is what it is. That said, as this news has spread in Chicago, Rahm has received some really great offers on places to stay."

Emanuel rented his North Side Chicago home from Sept. 1, 2009 to Sept. 1, 2010--and signed an extension until June, 2011 just six days before Daley announced on Sept. 7 that he would not seek another term.

Reports Sneed: The tenant, Robert Halpin," who described himself as an industrial real estate developer in the midst of heading to Louisville on business Monday, told Sneed: "Look, according to the lease I am not allowed to speak to the media about the house.

"But I can tell you I have no plans to move."

Emanuel used Rick Jasculca--of Jasculca Terman--as a spokesman to explain to Sneed Rahm's response: "Rahm explored the option of moving back into his house, he offered to compensate [Halpin] for three months of rent and then compensate him for the rest of the lease if he moved out," said Rick Jasculca, a close friend and spokesman for Rahm. "It was cordial, but [Halpin] was unwilling to terminate the lease. So now Rahm will explore other options."

WASHINGTON -- White House senior adviser David Axelrod receives rough treatment in Bob Woodward's new book, Obama's Wars -- Gen. David Petraeus calls him a "spin doctor."

Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel emerges as a central character, deeply involved in national security policy. It is Emanuel who coolly informs Axelrod that there are contingency plans in place in case the January 2009 inauguration had to be canceled because of a threat of a terrorist attack by a group of Somali extremists.

The focus of the Woodward book is on how the Obama White House grappled with decisions dealing with the Afghanistan war, Pakistan and the often secret fight against terrorism.

The book is populated with men -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is the only female of note in the 33 chapters -- who advised Obama and competed for his attention. Axelrod and Emanuel are portrayed as being concerned that the military was trying to push Obama into decisions.

The opening scene is in Chicago. It's Nov. 6, 2008, two days after the election in Obama's transition headquarters in the Kluczynski Federal Building in the Loop. Obama gets his first intelligence briefing as president-elect -- in what Woodward describes as a windowless, sound-proof "Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility" somewhere in the structure.

WASHINGTON--White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is poised to quit the White House as early as Friday to launch his bid to run for mayor of Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

A source close to Emanuel said "Rahm is nearing a decision on whether to leave the White House and explore a run for Mayor of Chicago; an announcement could come as early as Friday. Because of family considerations, no final decision has been made."

President Obama said Monday that White House chief Rahm Emanuel needs to make "a decision quickly" about running for mayor of Chicago. The word from the Emanuel source confirms what I reported last week that all signs point to Emanuel leaving the White House to move back to Chicago and run for mayor in the Feb. 22 primary.

In an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer on "The Today Show," Obama said, "Well, I think that Rahm will have to make a decision quickly, because running for mayor of Chicago is a serious enterprise. And I know this is something he's thinking about."

Asked if he would endorse Emanuel for mayor, Obama reminded Lauer that he already said Emanuel would make "an excellent mayor. But until he makes a decision, I'm not going to be making decisions about how I'm going to approach it."

Emanuel is the only Chicago mayoral contender who has been mute--totally--not a word on the record--about his thoughts on running for mayor. What we know--on the record--has been channeled through third parties who have talked to Emanuel such as White House senior advisor David Axelrod, Rep. Danny Davis, Rep. Mike Quigley and others.

Obama is likely to tap advisor Pete Rouse--who served as Obama's chief of staff when he was an Illinois senator--as interim chief of staff upon Emanuel's departure, but no final decision has been made.

WASHINGTON--Gery Chico is getting into the Chicago mayoral race--bringing in the potential to build a coalition that could make him very competitive in the crowded contest.

Plus: Leading Chicago Hispanic political figure. Chico is the City Colleges chief, former Mayor Daley chief of staff and president of the Chicago Public Schools. He ran in the 2004 Democratic Senate primary that was won by one Barack Obama.

Minus: Chairman of Altheimer & Gray when the Chicago law firm dissolved.

Aim high--applications for the next round of White House internships are due Oct. 3. Info on the program is here.

Obama Sept. 27 week ahead

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WASHINGTON--President Obama hits Chicago on Oct. 7 for a second fund-raiser to benefit Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. The White House is sending double punch to assist Giannoulias, who lags behind GOP rival Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on the fund-raising front: First Lady Michelle Obama headlines a fund-raising event on Oct. 13, when she kicks off her mid-term political tour.

The Obama event will also benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign. Obama made his first fund-raising visit to Chicago for Giannoulias on Aug. 5.

Stephen Colbert testimony--in character-- before a House committee Friday dealing with the plight of farm workers. Very, very funny. Politics Daily story here.

WASHINGTON--The Friday in the Illinois Senate race story so far today....

Mitt Romney at Mark Kirk fund-raiser touting Kirk's record on jobs and the economy

Alexi Giannoulias announcement of a conference call to prebut Romney/Kirk and talk about Kirk no vote on Democrats small business bill.

And this just in Kirk musters own conference call to bolster his small business credentials....

WASHINGTON--Stephen Colbert will be testifying this morning--
C-SPAN is live streaming
--the House Judiciary on Immigration and Farm Labor subcommittee hearing on immigration & farm labor.

WASHINGTON--Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias goes after GOP rival Rep. Mark Kirk on Friday for voting against a bill this week to help small businesses by giving them access to more credit and incentives to hire more workers. The bill was sent to President Obama with Democratic votes: the legislation passed by a 237-187 vote that split along party lines.

Giannoulias will take his shot at Kirk in a conference call this morning: Per the Giannoulias release: "Giannoulias will call on Kirk to explain his vote and why he continues to say one thing in Illinois and then vote differently when he's in Washington, D.C.

The conference call was just announced: it seems designed to be a counter--a prebuttal--to the Chicago visit today of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney--who headlines a fund-raiser lunch for Kirk with a speech praising Kirk's approach to the economy and job generation.

Kirk has the disadvantage of being a voting member of Congress during his Senate campaign.

At the click: Kirk's statement on why he voted no on the bill.

Watch live streaming video from cgi_plenary at

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama keynoted at the Clinton Global Initiative 2010 annual meeting in New York with a message that civilian employers just don't get it when it comes to hiring vets--and they need to appreciate that their jobs skills are valid. Read my column about Mrs. Obama's Thursday speech here.

Click below for the transcipt

WASHINGTON--Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney--eyeing a 2012 presidential race--headlines a lunch fund-raiser in Chicago today for GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk--and I'm told Romney is coming to talk about jobs and Kirk.

The campaign thinks that Romney--with his business and governor background "has the right fiscally responsible message that voters want right now. Very in line with Kirk's economic message. "

Here are excerpts from Romney's speech for Kirk:

"As a businessman, I understand what it takes to create jobs and grow our economy. Like me, Mark Kirk is a fiscal conservative - he has been endorsed by job creators like the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.

"Kirk has a Small Business Bill of Rights that will help create a pro-job, pro-growth environment and common sense ideas to curb the reckless spending.

"The fact is our economy is at a crossroads with Illinois facing higher unemployment than the national average. Illinois must elect a Senator with the experience and policies to control spending and put people back to work."

WASHINGTON--President Obama handed out plum appointments on Thursday to Chicagoans Penny Pritzker--she chaired his presidential finance committee, without which he would not be in the White House today--and Fred Eychaner, a major donor to Democratic candidates and causes.

The two were tapped to be trustees at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

WASHINGTON -- All signs point to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel running for mayor of Chicago.

Emanuel's decision is all but made -- he still has some family matters to consider -- but if his trajectory holds, watch for him to step down from his White House perch sometime in October. It will be a quick transition for Emanuel -- from dealing with an Afghanistan war to street repairs on Ardmore, Archer and Aberdeen.

WASHINGTON--White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is meeting with Rep. Mike Quigley on Wednesday afternoon; both men are mulling Chicago mayoral runs. Emanuel has been making calls to Chicago political figures as he inches closer to a decision.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, asked about Emanuel said "He's in the process of thinking through what is best for Rahm." Emanuel would have to leave in a few weeks, since petitions start being passed on Nov. 15 and even though he starts with a lot of money--$1.2 million in his warchest--he still would need to put together an organization.

If there is somebody to replace in the White House, said Gibbs, not naming Emanuel, they'll be ready with a replacement.

WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan -- the former Chicago Public Schools CEO, said Wednesday that the persistent murderous youth violence in Chicago haunts him -- ''We don't live in Iraq,'' he said. He also said he will be jumping on the campaign trail next month to help candidates --including Democratic Illinois Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias.

A year ago, President Obama sent Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder to Chicago to meet with parents and students in the wake of a killing spree that is still ongoing. Last week, a Bowen High School sophomore was the first Chicago Public Schools student killed this school year; 40 CPS students were killed during the last school year. Against this backdrop, I asked Duncan to reflect on the situation in Chicago during a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

''I thought it couldn't get much worse than when I was there,'' he said. ''I think in fact it has gotten worse. And it's staggering, it's absolutely unacceptable, and I have said repeatedly was by far, by far, the toughest issue that I dealt with. Nothing came close.'' He said the challenge was to ''rally the broader community to understand that we don't live in Iraq. Our children have to be safe going to and from school.''

WASHINGTON--The Service Employees International Union included Illinois in a poll about extending the Bush tax cut--President Obama wants to end it for folks making more than $250,000--and found support for the Obama position in Illinois. The poll is by Stanley Greenberg and found that supporting Obama on not extending the tax cuts for everybody--the Republicans want that extension--will be helpful to Democrats, especially in the Illinois Senate contest.

"In a tough political environment, where Alexi Giannoulias is locked in a competitive contest and is tied with Republican Mark Kirk 45 to 45 percent, the tax cut issue can help bolster Giannoulias' support," Greenberg said in a memo (read memo at the click below.) (The Greenberg firm is the Giannoulias campaign pollster)

The seven states the SEIU polled are Illinois, California, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin--all with big Senate battles.

"Good policy equals good politics," said SEIU spokesperson Teddy Davis. "Although some in Washington are proposing to temporarily extend the tax cuts for families making up to $1 million a year, this poll of likely voters in Illinois and other battleground states shows that more Americans support letting the tax cuts expire at $250,000 per year."

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) said in a statement Tuesday that a matter between him and a "social acquaintance" was a private matter between him and his wife, Sandi, a Chicago alderman and he was sorry if he disappointed supporters.

The statement comes following a Tuesday Chicago Sun-Times story about his fund-raising for convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and how one of his fund-raisers bought tickets for a woman who was a "social acquaintance" to fly to Chicago. This also comes as Jackson and his wife were both mulling having one of them jump in the Chicago mayoral race.

Updated story here.


Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. released the following statement about today's Chicago Sun-Times article:

"The allegations about fundraising and the Senate seat are not new. I've already talked with the authorities about these claims, told them they were false, and no charges have been brought against me. The very idea of raising millions of dollars for a campaign other than my own is preposterous. My interest in the Senate seat was based on years of public service, which I am proud of, not some improper scheme with anyone.

"The reference to a social acquaintance is a private and personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago. I ask that you respect our privacy.

"I know I have disappointed some supporters and for that I am deeply sorry. But I remain committed to serving my constituents and fighting on their behalf."

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama hits Chicago on Oct. 13 to fund-raise for Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and three Illinois Democrats in big House races in the Chicago suburbs: Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Rep. Bill Foster and nominee Dan Seals.

Mrs. Obama's first round of political travel--the first since the 2008 presidential election--was announced by the White House on Tuesday. She will headline nine events in seven citiies in six states--all friendly Democratic territory.

"She's campaigning to advocate, to rally voters behind specific candidates based on what we can do together to build a better future. She comes to this as a mom, and that's the lens through which she sees the world and that's her test for every issue--what it means for her daughters and all of our kids," said Stephanie Cutter, who was Mrs. Obama's 2008 presidential campaign chief of staff and now a White House comunications and messaging advisor.

For months now, many campaigns have been asking for Mrs. Obama to stump and fund-raise for them. President Obama and Vice President Biden have been doing fund-raisers for months--especially Vice President Biden, who is carrying the heaviest fund-raising load of anyone in the Obama administration. The Halvorson campaign had been asking specifically for Mrs. Obama.

During a briefing on Tuesday, reporters were told that Mrs. Obama will probably not be doing any free events, such as rallies, because they often take place on the weekends--and she does not travel on the weekend.

First Lady Chief of Staff Susan Sher said, "From the beginning, she's wanted to hit the campaign trail. It was just a matter of figuring out what would work with her schedule and what would be most useful."

Wednesday, October 13 - Travel to Milwaukee, WI, and Chicago, IL

Fundraising events for US Senator Russ Feingold

Event for Alexi Giannoulias, candidate for US Senate

Fundraising event for US Representative Debbie Halvorson, Dan Seals, and Bill Foster

Thursday, October 14 - Travel to Denver, CO

Fundraising Luncheon for US Senator Michael Bennet

Monday, October 18 - Travel to New York, NY

Fundraising Dinner for the Women's Leadership Forum

Monday, October 25: Travel to Seattle, WA, and San Francisco, CA

Fundraising events for US Senator Patty Murray

Fundraising event for Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Tuesday, October 26: Los Angeles, CA

Fundraising Dinner for the Women's Leadership Forum

Wednesday, October 27: Los Angeles, CA

Fundraising events for US Senator Barbara Boxer

WASHINGTON--The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made its first Illinois ad Tuesday buy to bolster Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias, in a deadlock contest with GOP contender Mark Kirk.

The DSCC is only buying ads so far in five states: Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, Pennsylvania and, starting Sunday, in Delaware, where surprise Republican nominee Christine O'Donnell is getting plenty of free media exposure of her nutty views on witchcraft and masturbation.

The DSCC wants to define Kirk, and is up early with a spot hitting Kirk on his record to try to do so.

The Kirk campaign issued a swift rebuttal. DSCC, Kirk campaign statements at the click below.


Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. directed a major political fund-raiser to offer former Gov. Rod Blagojevich millions of dollars in campaign cash in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate, sources said the fund-raiser has told federal authorities.

The allegation by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak counters public statements made as recently as last week by Jackson that he never authorized any deal to attempt to buy the Senate seat.

Nayak also told authorities he paid for two airline trips for a "social acquaintance" of the Democratic congressman at Jackson's request, raising more potential ethical and political problems for Jackson.

The FBI interviewed that acquaintance -- a Washington, D.C., restaurant hostess named Giovana Huidobro -- about a year ago as part of its corruption probe of Blagojevich. Authorities were trying to determine whether Jackson had asked Nayak to offer Blagojevich campaign cash in exchange for the then-governor appointing Jackson to the seat once held by President Obama, according to sources with knowledge of the probe.

WASHINGTON-- President Obama on Monday hinted that he may be switching leadership on his White House economic team.

John Harwood asked Obama at a "town hall" here: We're coming up to the midterm election; have you asked your Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, and your top economic adviser, Larry Summers, to stay with you through the end of your term? Or might you make some changes?"

Said Obama, "Well, look, I -- I have not made any determinations about personnel. I think Larry Summers and Tim Geithner have done an outstanding job, as have my whole economic team. This is tough, the work that they do. They've been at it for two years. And, you know, they're going to have a whole range of decisions about family that'll factor into this as well. But the bottom line is -- is that we're constantly thinking, is what we're doing working as well as it could? Do we have other options and other alternatives that we can explore?"

WASHINGTON---Sarah Palin won the Right Nation 2010 straw poll for 2012 presidential potential candidates a straw poll from the Values Voter Summit, another conservative group taken over the weekend gave first place to Rep. Mike Pence. Right Nation has more that twice the number of people voting--1,693--than the Values Voter gathering with 723 participating in the straw poll.

Right Nation 2010 held its national meeting Saturday in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, billing itself as a gathering of conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party independents.

Palin did not attend the Right Nation 2010 or Values Voter Summit in Washington.

Out of 1,693 votes cast at Right Nation 2010:

Sarah Palin - 323 votes (19.1%)
Chris Christie - 274 votes (16.2%)
Newt Gingrich - 227 votes (13.4%)
Herman Cain - 201 votes (11.9%)
Mitt Romney - 190 votes (11.2%)
Mike Huckabee - 156 votes (9.2%)
Ron Paul - 78 votes (4.6%)
Mitch Daniels - 76 votes (4.5%)
Tim Pawlenty - 68 votes (4.0%)
Mike Pence - 45 votes (2.7%)
Rudy Giuliani - 33 votes (1.9%)
Haley Barbour - 22 votes (1.3%)

Of the 723 who voted in the Values Voter presidential straw poll:

Mike Pence: 24%
Mike Huckabee 22%
Mitt Romney 13%
Newt Gingrich 10%.
Sarah Palin t 7%

The 50th anniversary of the historic Kennedy-Nixon debate--held in a Chicago television studio-- is September 26. The Museum of Broadcast Communications is hosting a panel on July 26 to mark the event; Monday night at the National Press Club in Washington the Kalb Report hosts a discussion pegged to the anniversary and the future for presidential debates.


Bob Schieffer, Sander Vanocur, Judy Woodruff, Mike McCurry and Janet Brown Join Moderator Marvin Kalb To Mark 50th Anniversary of Historic 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Forums and Explore Future of Presidential Debates in Age of Global Media Transformation


Sept. 26 at the Union League Club of Chicago, 65 W. Jackson Blvd.

The panel:

Bill Kurtis - Moderator
Ald. Ed Burke - Chicago historian
Newton Minow - Original debate negotiator
Sander Vanocur - Original debate journalist


WASHINGTON--This Sept. 26 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Kennedy-Nixon debate, held in the old CBS building on McClurg Court in Chicago. Bruce DuMont's Museum of Broadcast Communications is hosting a panel to mark the historic debate--(remember Nixon's beard?) on Sept. 26 at the Union League Club of Chicago, 65 W. Jackson Blvd.

The panel:

Bill Kurtis - Moderator
Ald. Ed Burke - Chicago historian
Newton Minow - Original debate negotiator
Sander Vanocur - Original debate journalist


Obama Sept. 20 week ahead

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Chicago Sun-Times Political Writer

HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL.---Five thousand conservative true believers cheered Fox News host Glenn Beck and other right-leaning firebrands at Right Nation 2010 in Hoffman Estates on Saturday night in a call-to-arms 45 days before Election Day.

With his trademark chalkboard behind him, Beck invoked God, the Constitution and Thomas Jefferson.

"We are 40 days from fundamentally changing America,'' Beck said. ". . . What the Tea Party movement wants is an end to out-of-control spending, an end to the insanity, an end to the growth in government that is gobbling everything up.''

He also ridiculed first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to get people to eat healthier snacks like apples or carrots.

"Get away from my french fries, Mrs. Obama," Beck warned. "First politician that comes up to me with a carrot stick, I've got a place for it. And it's not in my tummy."

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was honored Saturday at the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce Midwest Anniversary dinner gala. Read about it here.

rahm obama biden.jpg

President Barack Obama talks with Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, Sept. 9, 2010.

As Rahm Emanuel mulls a City Hall run......

Giannoulias in Aurora on Sunday

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Kirk in Romeoville on Sunday

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WASHINGTON--For the sixth time since becoming president, President Obama attended church in Washington.

The First Family walked through Lafayette Square from the White House--no motorcade, it's just a block--to St. John's Episcopal Church. The family left at 8:49 a.m. for the 9 a.m. service. Obama was wearing a suit; First Lady Michelle, Sasha, and Malia in dresses.

The gospel is Luke 16:1-13, which ends 'You cannot serve God and wealth."

From the pool report: "The sermon was on the Luke passage mentioned in first pool report, the parable of the dishonest steward.

"St. John's rector the Revd. Dr Luis Leon, preaching, said the parable was a complicated one but that he understood it as an instruction to "act shrewdly on behalf of God" and that Luke is advising that listeners make choices about God and that "the time to act is now."

"The Obamas sat a few rows back from the altar, among around 40 worshippers. The first family all went up for communion, led by the president.

"The first family left the church by the side door at 10.03am and walked slowly through the park back to the White House.

Lafayette Park and Pennsylvania Avenue in front of White House were closed to the public.

The Obama family never joined a church in Washington. President Obama said it was too disruptive to the congregation to have them attend. The last time the Obama family was at a Sunday service in Washington was April 4. Obama also attends services when he is at Camp David, the presidential retreat.

In August, two polls came out with findings that a chunk of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim: A Pew Research survey put the number at 18 percent; a Time magazine poll found 24 percent said he was a Muslim.

FOOTNOTE: Obama brought a staffer with him to worship with his family: Sitting with the first family was Joshua Dubois, head of the White House faith and neighborhood partnerships office, according to the pool report.

Below, my post about Obama's April church visit...

For fifth time, Obama attends church in Washington; Easter Sunday at AME church

WASHINGTON--President Obama, First Lady Michelle, Malia, Sasha and First Gram, Marian Robinson, attended Easter Sunday services (April 4) at Allen Chapel AME.

The church is in a part of the city a few miles from a recent shooting spree that left four dead. This is the fifth time Obama has attended church in Washington since becoming president. ..

My post on the fourth visit the Obama family to a Washington church is here.

WASHINGTON--Sen. John McCain, fresh off his Arizona GOP primary victory, hits Illinois to fundraise for Rep. Mark Kirk's Illinois Senate campaign on Oct. 17th. As of June 30, the latest reporting period, Kirk held a massive fundraising advantage over Democratic challenger Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer.

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine's Statement on Yom Kippur

Washington, DC- Tonight marks the beginning of Yom Kippur. In recognition of that occasion, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine released the following statement:

"Tonight, as Jewish families across the United States and around the world begin their Yom Kippur observances, I join with them not only in marking this holy day, but in celebrating the ancient Jewish faith. It is a faith that binds families and communities and that - on this day in particular - demonstrates the value of reflection, atonement, and forgiveness.

"Those values transcend any one religion - they are values that convey compassion for those around us and encourage empathy for our neighbors. They enrich our society and our lives. So whatever our faith, I hope we can all join together today not only to reflect on our past but also to resolve to work to build a better future and a more tolerant world."

The Democratic National Committee was helping on Friday circulate notice of an off the record, not intended for press briefing newly tapped financial consumer czar Elizabeth Warren was hosting.

From an e-mail: "This afternoon the President will announce that he is appointing Elizabeth Warren as an Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Please join a call at 4:30pm EDT TODAY with Elizabeth Warren to discuss consumer protection.

We hope you are able to join.

WHAT: White House Conference Call (*please use your personal affiliation when asked)

WHEN: TODAY, Sept. 17th at 4:30PM EDT

Call Number: (800) 230-1093

Title: Consumer Protection Call

Please note that this call is off the record and is not for press purposes.

WASHINGTON--President Obama sent out a fund-raising appeal on behalf of tenth district House Democratic nominee Dan Seals (read at click below) while Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headlines a fund-raiser for Seals on Sept. 25 in Chicago, at a private home; donations betweel $500 and $2,400 get ya in the door.

WASHINGTON--Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is making his fourth visit to Illinois on Friday to help GOP Senate candidate Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) raise money for the November election. McConnell is appearing in west suburban St. Charles.

Kirk is stumping Friday in McHenry and Kane Counties: Here's what supporters were told...


....."Mark Kirk will be in McHenry County tomorrow morning (Friday, Sept. 17) for a meet-and-greet at the Republican Party Headquarters in Crystal Lake from 7:30-9:00 AM. We'll have coffee, ,juice and donuts, so come on by if you can. Pam Althoff, Brian Sager and I have scheduled a very busy, but productive, morning for the Congressman. After greeting McHenry County residents he will meet from 9-10 with Presidents of all of the local Chambers of Commerce, where he will talk about his "Small Business Bill of Rights." You all have this document. Read it again; its really good stuff. From 10:30-11:30, Congressman Kirk will be meeting with local farmers at the County Farm Bureau building in Woodstock. He will speak to this large group of farmers about his stance on farming and agricultural issues. You should all also have his "Farmers for Kirk" document. It is equally great. From there, we will drive to Cary, where Mark Kirk will speak with executives at Sage Products, one of the county's largest employers. After speaking with leaders he will tour the facility.

He has a similarly busy afternoon and evening in Kane County.

WASHINGTON--Feminist icon Gloria Steinem hits Chicago on Wednesday to headline a lunch fund-raiser aimed at women donors for Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias at Carnivale Restaurant, 702 W. Fulton Market. Prices from $150 to $4,800; everything can be doubled because of the two Senate contests--one to fill President Obama's remaining days of his term.

Hosts include Bettly Saltzman, Bridget Gainer, Lauren Beth Gash, Judy Gold, Liz Houlihan, Marilyn Katz, Nancy Kohn, and Mia Phifer.

On Sept. 28, Vice President Biden returns to Illinois to be the draw at a funder for Giannoulias; Biden was at a small event earlier in the summer.

WASHINGTON--Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart and Dick Armey--a godfather of the Tea Party movement--are among the headliners at the Right Nation 2010 Convention on Saturday in suburban Hoffman Estates. The gathering of the who's who of the right--including Illinois and national elected officials, activists and candidates will be at the Sears Centre Arena.

More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the conservative gathering, where a highlight will be a straw poll of 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

Kirk applauds Mayor Daley China trip

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WASHINGTON -- Alexi Giannoulias' Democratic Illinois Senate campaign is talking up a marginal Senate candidate -- Libertarian Mike Labno -- to try to drain conservative votes from his Republican rival, Mark Kirk.

The Giannoulias campaign tactic to try to erode Kirk's base Republican vote comes as a major national convention of conservatives -- "Right Nation 2010" -- takes place Saturday at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, with headliners including Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart and Dick Armey.

WASHINGTON---Elizabeth Warren debuted on the White House blog Friday morning, saying she can't wait to get to work as the first chief of the new consumer financial protection panel--a new government watchdog entity. On Friday, President will officially appoint Warren an Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Obama's move sidesteps the need for Senate confirmation--which she likely would not have won.

WASHINGTON--President Obama met with Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Nydia Velazquez at the White House on Thursday to discuss an upcoming Senate vote on immigration legislation--especially the DREAM Act, designed to provide students who are not in the country legally a way to continue their studies.

On another matter: Gutierrez is mulling a run for Chicago mayor; Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, also pondering a bid, was not in the meeting, I am told. In the past, Gutierrez has jabbed Emanuel over what he said was his lack of help on immigration issues. But don't read too much into Emanuel's not being at the meeting; he always has a lot on his plate.

Click below for White House, Gutierrez statements about the meeting.

WASHINGTON--Two potential Chicago mayoral candidates--Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel--huddled here Wednesday night; earlier on Wednesday, Jackson Jr. met with two other maybe Chicago mayoral contenders, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.)

On Thursday, Jackson said he discussed with Emanuel the state of the city and the Nov. 2 elections. On the Feb. 22 mayoral primary, Jackson said they "agreed that every possible contender should conduct their effort on the moral high ground because our city deserves a very serious debate about its economic future."

Jackson Jr. and Emanuel are two of the more than 20 names--including Jackson wife Ald. Sandi Jackson and ally state Sen. James Meeks) who are mulling running for mayor in the wake of Mayor Daley's Sept. 7 surprise decision to not seek a seventh term next year.

Jumping in the mayoral race is a major life changing event for Emanuel and his family, who moved to Washington last year to be with Emanuel while he is posted at the White House. If he runs, he closes the door on a big chapter of his life.

For members of Congress and the Illinois General Assembly, a decision to run for mayor in 2011 has fewer personal consequences; they are up for re-election in even number years. They can be defeated in a City Hall bid and still have a fall back elected position. Aldermen who want to run have more to consider; the entire 50-member Chicago City Council is up for election at the same Feb. 22 municipal election.

Jackson Jr. has been an outspoken Daley critic; Emanuel has been a staunch Daley defender. Early in his career, Emanuel was a Daley fund-raiser.

Jackson Jr. said in a statement, "On Monday, September 13th I met with Reverend Senator James Meeks, who is my pastor, my friend and the godfather of my children. On Wednesday, September 15th, I met with Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis, both of whom are colleagues of mine, and I had a private meeting with my former colleague and my friend Rahm Emanuel. And I talk to Alderman Sandi Jackson every day. Everyone is talking about the mayor's race.

"Rahm and I agreed that the city's financial crisis puts Chicago at a tipping point. The ramifications of this tipping point could tear at the social, political and economic fiber that holds our city together and makes it great. Both of us are very concerned about the upcoming November 2nd election and the subsequent municipal elections, and agreed that every possible contender should conduct their effort on the moral high ground because our city deserves a very serious debate about its economic future."

WASHINGTON--">First Lady Michelle Obama never said her life was "hell" in the White House, the French Embassy here and her own office said in statements Thursday, denying a claim attributed by French First Lady Caral Bruni-Sarkozy in a new book.

"Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy distances herself completely from the content of the book "Carla and the Ambitious", which was not authorized and the authors alone are responsible for its contents. The words attributed to the First Lady of the United States were never said," said Emmanuel Lenain, a spokesman for the French Embassy here.

Mrs. Obama spokesman Catherine McCormick-Lelyveld said in a statement, "the First Lady never said that."



French First Lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy just jammed First Lady Michelle Obama, claiming in a new book that Mrs. Obama told her last March that life is "hell" since President Obama won the White House.

WASHINGTON--White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.)--both mulling Chicago mayoral runs--huddled in Washington on Wednesday night.

"It's fair to say they had a conversation not only about the race, but about the city itself," said a source who declined to be named.

Emanuel and Jackson are among the more than two dozen potential contenders pondering jumping in the Feb. 22, 2010 nonpartisan Chicago mayoral primary in the wake of Mayor Daley's decision last week not to seek another term.

Jackson's wife, Sandi, a Chicago alderman, also is on some long lists of maybe candidates.

Emanuel is wrestling with what is a major life decision for him, one being made in the context of having to juggle major domestic and international matters for the Obama White House. Emanuel commissioned his long-time pollster, Stanley Greenberg to poll Chicagoans to help Emanuel test issues and his own viability.

President Obama, Wednesday night, at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus gala:

"Now, the Senate is going to have a chance to do the right thing over the next few weeks when Senator Reid brings the DREAM Act to the floor. (Applause.) Keep in mind, in the past, this was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. There's no reason why it shouldn't receive that same kind of bipartisan support today. I've been a supporter since I was in the Senate, and I will do whatever it takes to support the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' efforts to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to serve in our country's uniform. It's the right thing to do. We should get it done."

WASHINGTON--President Obama found a way Wednesday night to sidestep a Senate confirmation blockade and install Elizabeth Warren to launch the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren was the first to suggest that consumers needed a government watchdog to prevent financial institutions from exploiting and tricking their customers. HOPE SHE WORKS ON TRANSLATING the small print INTO PLAIN ENGLISH.

From a Democratic official: " President Obama is appointing Elizabeth Warren to be an Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In this role, Ms. Warren will report directly to the President and to Secretary Geithner and lead the Administration's work in standing up the CFPB, a task that was assigned to the Treasury in the Wall Street Reform Act."

WASHINGTON--Congress is dealing with immigration issues in the coming days...Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is one of three Hispanic congressional leaders meeting with President Obama on Thursday to try to "re-energize" the push for immigration reform.

The folks over at HuffHill (an afternoon newsletter produced by the Huffington Post) caught a Chicago mayoral campaign angle that I (gasp) overlooked....

from HuffHill...

"Luis Gutierrez, Nydia Velazquez and Bob Menendez will meet with the president tomorrow at 2:30 to talk immigration reform. Gutierrez says he'll push Obama to use his muscle to get the DREAM Act through Congress. If Rahm Emanuel shows up, two potential Chicago mayoral candidates will be in the room together. Gutierrez, who said today that a run is "tempting," said he'd have a hard time supporting Emanuel if he doesn't, given his history of slowing down immigration reform. He still remembers, Gutierrez said, when Emanuel, as head of the DCCC, was telling Democrats to vote for a draconian Republican immigration bill in 2006. But if he helps make the DREAM Act a reality, all could be forgiven. "I would be very indebted and grateful to Rahm," he said, adding that so would the Latino community."

WASHINGTON--President Obama and First Lady Michelle have asked the press to not report much on daughters Malia and Sasha. Then Obama goes and puts an illustration of his girls on the cover of his new kids book, out in November, even titling it "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters." White House Press Secretary was asked on Wednesday if Obama was contradicting his request to give his girls their space.

Q Robert, on the President's upcoming book, you urge the press corps not to write about the First Family, particularly the President's daughters, to keep them out of the public spotlight. But they're central to this book project. And I'm wondering if you see a contradiction in that.

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think our encouragement is to keep their private lives private. I think that if you read the book, it's, I think the President would tell you, an inspirational book about the country they live in and about their ability and the ability for children throughout this country to dream, as the President talked about yesterday, to dream big and accomplish whatever they want to.

I think the President and the First Lady would be the first to underscore that you all have done a great job in keeping the lives of two individuals, quite frankly, that really weren't as involved in making a decision about running for office and moving to Washington -- allow them to live as normal a life -- a set of lives as they can. And I will say, having known each of those two children for seven or so years, it is remarkable; I think it's a great testament to the stability of what the First Lady has provided each of them in creating an environment of normalcy even amidst the White House.

Q Do you know if they'll be involved in marketing the book at all?

MR. GIBBS: No, I do not believe they're -- they will not be involved in that and I don't anticipate that the President will be heavily involved in that at all.

Tea Party upsets in Delaware, New York

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WASHINGTON--The Tea Party had a big night Tuesday with surprise victories in Delaware and New York; Jill Lawrence over at Politics Daily has the overview.

Tea Party backed Christine O'Donnell beat the GOP establishment candidate Mike Castle in the Delaware GOP primary on Tuesday night. .....O'Donnell is far right--even for the Tea Party.... ...MSNBC is playing her rift on human sexuality....and I can't make this up...on masturbation.... The race is for Vice President Biden's former senate seat.

WASHINGTON---The streets around my northwest Washington neighborhood were full of campaign workers today--primary day in this city where the winner of the Democratic mayoral primary basically has the race clinched. Incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty is fending off a big challenge from City Council chairman Vince Gray. A big issue is education--and Fenty's hiring of Washington schools chief Michelle Rhee. Gray--who has the backing of the teachers union-- would not say if he would keep Rhee if elected.

As in Chicago, Washington votes along racial lines. While both Fenty and Gray are African Americans, if Fenty is defeated tonight, it will be in part because he lost support in the city's African American communities. The rap on Fenty is that he played to white, wealthier communities. Though Fenty endorsed Obama during his presidential primary, Obama did not return the favor and help out Fenty, even though he asked.

WASHINGTON--While White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is mapping a Chicago mayoral run, he should be grateful he is not intending to run statewide in Illinois: A new Rasmussen Poll, released on Tuesday found that only 40 percent of likely voters in Illinois (this is not a Chicago only poll) have a favorable opinion of him and 46 percent view him unfavorable. Illinois Democrats like Emanuel better than Republicans and Independents. Click here for my column on how Emanuel commissioned his long-time pollster, Stanley Greenberg to survey Chicagoans on a potential mayoral bid. The Emanuel poll was out in the field over the weekend.

From Rasmussen: "These findings include 19% who share a Very Favorable opinion of him and 32% who have a Very Unfavorable one.

"Sixty-five percent (65%) of Democrats in Illinois view Emanuel positively, while 77% of Republicans and 53% of voters not affiliated with either party have a negative impression of him."

The telephone poll 0f 750 likely Illinois voters was taken Sept. 12 with a four percent margin of error.

WASHINGTON---Democratic Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias hits Los Angeles on Tuesday on a fund-raising swing.

A Tuesday event is at the home of Ken & Lissa Solomon with other hosts: Pamela Abdy, Gary Jones & Stacey Snider, Michael Mailis, Joyce Rey, Rick Rosenthal & Nancy Stephens, Ken & Lissa Solomon and Bob Teitel

WASHINGTON--President Obama, in his back-to-school speech on Tuesday, highlighted the murders and violence some Chicago students face when they go to school.

Obama speech below for full text....

There are neighborhoods in my hometown of Chicago, and there are neighborhoods right here in Philadelphia where kids are doing each other serious harm.

So, what I want to say to every kid, every young person -- what I want all of you -- if you take away one thing from my speech, I want you to take away the notion that life is precious, and part of what makes it so wonderful is its diversity, that all of us are different.

And we shouldn't be embarrassed by the things that make us different. We should be proud of them, because it's the thing that makes us different that makes us who we are, that makes us unique. And the strength and character of this country has always come from our ability to recognize -- no matter who we are, no matter where we come from, no matter what we look like, no matter what abilities we have -- to recognize ourselves in each other.

WASHINGTON--If White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett is on your list of folks mulling a run for Chicago mayor--take her off. She told me Tuesday she is not considering a mayoral bid.

On Monday, Jarrett guested on ABC's "The View" and also took herself out of the running to replace White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel if he departs the White House and then jumps in the mayoral contest.

At the end of 2008--when it looked iike then Sen. Barack Obama would win the presidency--Jarrett briefly considered seeking an appointment from then Gov. Blagojevich to replace Obama in the Senate. Jarrett is familiar with Chicago's City Hall. She served in several positions under the late Mayor Harold Washington--the city's first African American mayor--and stayed on under Mayor Daley. She hired Michelle Obama--then Michelle Robinson--as her deputy. Mrs. Obama worked in Chicago's City Hall between 1991 and 1993.

Jarrett is happy where she is--in a job where she has line responsibilities--running the Office of Public Engagement where she oversees the public liasion and intergovernmental affairs operation--and also serves as a minister without portfolio to President Obama on other domestic and international matters. Jarrett is the only person in the Obama White House who is social friends with the Obamas--she vacations with them--who also serves as a top staffer.

Jarrett told "The View's" Barbara Walters, "No -- I'm just saying, I want to do what I'm doing. I don't want to change jobs. I love my job."

WASHINGTON -- White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has commissioned his longtime pollster, Stanley Greenberg, to survey Chicagoans about a potential mayoral bid. Meanwhile, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun will accept a mayoral "draft" at a Monday news conference in Chicago.

Sources told me that polling calls for Emanuel were being made over the weekend and that Emanuel has activated his Chicago network of pals to reach out to political figures in Chicago on his behalf. While Emanuel backed out of a Chicago visit this past weekend, I'm told he will be in Chicago by the end of the month.

WASHINGTON-- President Obama is coming out with a children's book--titled "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters," to be published next month and announced on Tuesday.

The publishers --Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books--will sell the book for $17.99 with the proceeds going to charity.

The book is a hat tip to 13 Americans, including artist Georgia O'Keeffe, baseball giant Jackie Robinson and George Washington.

The book was promised as part of a three-book deal Obama inked in December, 2004, when he was a senator-elect from Illinois.

WASHINGTON--Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) is poised to jump in the Chicago mayor's race on Monday, scheduled to appear at a press conference of a group organizing a "Carol for Chicago" draft, I am told.

Moseley Braun last week talked to Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch about her potential political comeback.

While White House chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and others ponder a run, backers of Moseley Braun--a one-term senator, New Zealand ambassador, Cook County Recorder of Deeds and state representative who runs an organic food company in Chicago--huddled on Sunday with Moseley Braun and her long time advisor, Billie Paige, to map her political comeback under the "Carol for Chicago" banner. Moseley Braun has been out of politics since she ran for president in 2004.

WASHINGTON--White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said she has no interest in replacing Emanuel if he leaves. On the couch Monday with the women of ABC's "The View," Jarrett was pressed several times by Barbara Walters about her interest in replacing Emanuel.

"I love my job, and I'm so fortunate, really, to have the responsibilities that I enjoy that take me out and engage me every single day with people," Jarrett said. Walters tried again for an answer. On Walters third try, Jarrett said, "No -- I'm just saying, I want to do what I'm doing. I don't want to change jobs. I love my job."

Jarrett, before talking about her White House job and her interest--or lack of--being weighed down as chief of staff--in contrast with her wide ranging portfolio--giggled with the gals over sending kids off to their first day of school.

She said she remembered sending daughter Laura, 24, who graduated Harvard Law School this year, off to kindergarten. And the conversation trail led this Jarrett admission: "My daughter actually insists on doing her own laundry and has for a very long time. She didn't like the way I did it."

While in New York on Monday, Jarrett received an award from Essence Magazine and met with all of the editors at Hearst Publications.

A Rasmussen poll released Monday shows GOP Illinois governor nominee state Sen. Bill Brady widening his lead over Gov. Quinn. The poll shows that the Green Party candidate, Rich Whitney, could be a spoiler for Quinn. The poll did not include Scott Cohen, who is using his own millions of dollars hoping to leverage the bad press he received after he won and gave up the Democratic lt. governor nomination in February.

Below, from Rasmussen......
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state, with leaners included, finds Brady picking up 50% of the vote, while Quinn earns 37% support. Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, included for the first time in a Rasmussen Reports survey of this race, earns just four percent (4%) of the vote. Seven percent (7%) prefer some other candidate, and three percent (3%) are undecided.

Late last month, when leaners were included in the totals, Brady, a state senator, held a 49% to 41% advantage over Quinn.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday said Newt Gingrich--the former House Speaker once again flirting with a White House run--was appealing to the fringe when he hit President Obama over the weekend for having a worldview shaped by Kenya and its colonial past.

GOP Illinois Senate candidate Rep. Mark Kirk is running two spots: on Sunday in Chicago I saw the spot slamming rival Democrat Alexi Giannoulias on taxes; the other spot is an appeal to independent voters.


from Obamafoodorama:

On Monday, Sept. 13, White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg will continue the unprecedented White House campaign to promote Gulf seafood, a critical component of the region's economy that's been deeply harmed by the BP oil spill.

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board is sponsoring the events, which formally kick off on Sunday evening with a reception and "dine around." Famed New Orleans chefs John Besh and John Folse are leading the local delegation, along with Chicago chef Rick Tramonto, who is opening a new resturant in New Orleans. Chefs from across America have been invited to participate. The Food Network will be filming the whole seafood shindig for an upcoming episode of My Life In Food.

Quinn, Simon campaign schedule

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Obama Sept. 13 week ahead

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President Obama, at his Friday press conference on failed promise to close Guantanamo: "Well, the -- you know, we have succeeded on delivering a lot of campaign promises that we made. One where we've fallen short is closing Guantanamo. I wanted to close it sooner. We have missed that deadline. It's not for lack of trying. It's because the politics of it are difficult."

President Obama at his Friday press conference said it may make sense for Israel to extend its settlement moratorium--due to expire at the end of the month--if there is progress in the coming weeks at the Obama sponsored peace talks.

A Chicago Sun-Times/McKeon & Associates poll shows the race to replace Mayor Daley wide open. The poll of 600 voters was taken Sept. 9 with a margin of error plus or minus 4.3 percent. Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin column on the poll is here.

If the primary election for Mayor of Chicago were held today, for whom would you vote?

3% Jim Houlihan
9% Luis Gutierrez
12% Tom Dart
10% James Meeks
3%_ Bob Fioretti
7%_ Rahm Emanuel
6% Gery Chico
4%_ Terry Peterson
8%_ Jesse Jackson,Jr
3%_ Other

The racial break down of respondents:
47%_ Caucasian 30%_ African American 14%_ Hispanic 9%

CNN's John King interviewed Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) on Thursday night, looking ahead to who will run for Chicago mayor now that Mayor Daley said he will not seek re-election next year. Both Jackson and his wife, Sandi, a Chicago alderman, are considering a run. Jackson fired a few warning shots to Emanuel--and President Obama.

Said Jackson, "If Rahm Emanuel does make the decision to run for mayor of the city of Chicago, it will become a national campaign. This will not be a local race run by local candidates just debating just local issues. It will be about urban policy. It will be about the president's agenda. He has served as chief of staff.

"The president's record will probably be brought into that campaign. And given that the president was a state senator in my Congressional district, he was a -- a U.S. senator from the state of Illinois, and he, for two years now, has a record that he has to run on, Rahm Emanuel will have to answer the questions about those communities that have been left behind."

President Obama on Friday will tap Austan Goolsbee--the Chicagoan who advised Obama on economic policy since his 2004 Illinois Senate campaign-- to chair the Council of Economic Advisors to replace Christina Romer, who departed earlier this month, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Obama will make the announcement at Friday's White House press conference. The elevation of Goolsbee, 41, means Obama dipped inside his circle of trusted advisors already in place in the White House, bringing continuity to his economic team.

Goolsbee is staff director and chief economist on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and is also a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. Goolsbee joined the administration after being a top economic advisor to Obama's presidential campaign.

Goolsbee is on leave as the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Romer departed on Sept. 3, to return to the University of California, Berkeley, where she was an economics professor and where her son was starting high school this fall.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough asks White House senior advisor David Axelrod about the prospects of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel running for mayor of Chicago.

"Now, he also has a great job.-- But he's got -- but he's got some options, and he's got some decisions to make, and he will think it over," Axelrod said.

On NBC's "Today Show," Axelrod was asked about Emanuel quitting and "how bad would that be for this president to lose somebody that high up in the administration?"

Said Axelrod, "Well, for the same reason that Rahm would be an extraordinary candidate for mayor, he's extraordinarily valuable to the president. But no one is indispensable. And if that's the direction he decides to go, there are many here who are ready to fill in the breach. But he hasn't made that decision. He and I both worked with Mayor Daley. We were stunned by the news, knowing how much the mayor loved that job. So he's digesting that news, and he'll make a decision in due time.

President Obama is featured in a new spot for Illinois Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias--vouching for him on ethics, using tape from a fund-raiser Obama headlined for Giannoulias this summer in Chicago. Rival Mark Kirk is hitting Giannoulias heavily as a "mob banker." The ad starts in markets around Illinois on Thursday.

React from National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Press Secretary Amber Marchand:

"Is this the 'change' that President Obama believes in? After telling Americans that our country doesn't need another banker in Washington, he wants Illinois voters to elect a failed mob banker who loaned millions of dollars to known criminals? How are Illinois voters supposed to 'trust' Giannoulias with their pocketbooks after he squandered millions of taxpayer dollars set aside for the state's college fund? How does the President propose that Illinois voters 'count on' Giannoulias after he drove his own family's business into the ground, forcing the government to pay for his risky loans and reckless behavior? Shooting hoops and calling his buddy from Chicago a 'friend' is one thing, but President Obama should know that Illinois voters deserve more than a reckless mob banker with a thin resume of experience in the U.S. Senate."

After this item was posted--based on e-mail solicitations that went out Wednesday morning--word came from the White House that Emanuel is canceling.

"I saw your blog post," said Emanuel spokesman Meridith Webster in an e-mail to me. "Unfortunately due to a scheduling conflict and we had to change the date. I expect this will be rescheduled soon." ---end update...

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel--likely to run for mayor in the wake of Mayor Daley's surprise decision not to seek another term--hits Chicago in a few days for a series of fund-raisers for House candidates. But it will be his first time in the city since he is in play for City Hall and reporters are certain to hunt him down to ask him if he is going to leave the White House to run. Then there is the matter of timing--does he leave the White House before the mid-term elections? Nominating petitions--with 12,500 valid signatures--are due Nov. 22.

Emanuel is headlining a fund-raiser private dinner Sunday at 6 p.m. for Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) who is in a tight re-election contest over at the Lux Bar, 18 E. Bellevue Place.

On Monday, he is the draw for a breakfast for Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Col.) at the Clifford Law Offices, 120 La Salle and a lunch at the Metropolitan Club at the Willis Tower for Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fl.).

While White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is lionized in Washington, he would not start a mayoral race in Chicago automatically first in line to replace Mayor Daley.

Emanuel has said he would likely run if Daley did not -- but he was caught by surprise Tuesday as was everyone else when Daley said he was moving on. "While Mayor Daley surprised me today with his decision to not run for re-election, I have never been surprised by his leadership, dedication and tireless work on behalf of the city and the people of Chicago," Emanuel said in a statement that did not show his hand.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod told me he and Emanuel were absorbing the blockbuster news Tuesday. "I know he is very, very consumed right now with his work here." As for an Emanuel mayoral run, Axelrod said, "I don't know whether Rahm is contemplating that."

Emanuel has a million dollars in his campaign fund and formidable fund-raising ability, giving him a running start against rivals -- if he jumps in the contest. Emanuel, a former House member from a district anchored on the North Side, is without a solid political base in Chicago. The unions and other progressives are mad at him over national issues that would seep into a mayoral contest.

Illinois GOP Senate nominee Mark Kirk talks about education Wednesday in a town hall in Lake County and wants the event to throw the spotlight back on Democratic rival Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer, over failures in his Bright Start college savings program.

Biden on Colbert Report on Wednesday

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Durbin on Mayor Daley

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[CHICAGO, IL] -- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today made the following statement in response to a decision by Mayor Daley to not seek re-election:

"I spoke with Mayor Daley after his announcement and know this was a personal, family decision. After 21 years as Mayor and almost 40 years in public life, Rich Daley knew it was time.

The job of a big city mayor is one of the hardest in America. The fact that Chicago is one of the best, most energized, most attractive places to live in our nation tells the story of Mayor Daley's record.

Maggie, Rich and the Daley family poured their hearts and souls into Chicago. Their legacy can be found in the schools, the neighborhoods and the businesses large and small across this great city."


President Obama spoke with Mayor Daley on the phone around 5:45 p.m. eastern time. end update.

President Obama never came up through Mayor Daley's City Hall, though Senor Advisors David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett worked for Daley and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was a Daley appointee--who started his political career as a Daley fund-raiser. First Lady Michelle Obama worked in Daley's City Hall between 1991 and 1993. Obama issued a short statement on Daley's surprise announcement today that he will not seek a seventh term:

"No mayor in America has loved a city more or served a community with greater passion than Rich Daley. He helped build Chicago's image as a world class city, and leaves a legacy of progress that will be appreciated for generations to come."

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel released a statement Tuesday afternoon about Mayor Daley not seeking another term--he said he was "surprised"--but his comment gave no clue about whether he will run for the job.

"While Mayor Daley surprised me today with his decision to not run for reelection, I have never been surprised by his leadership, dedication and tireless work on behalf of the city and the people of Chicago," Emanuel said in a statement.


CHICAGO--Mayor Daley, in a surprise move on Tuesday, announced in City Hall that he will not seek re-election next year to another term.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has said he would be interested in running if Daley does not run again

Democrats need to produce jobs if they want to win in November. President Obama is asking Congress to approve new funding for infrastructure spending designed to create and save jobs. Obama will talk about his job proposals Wednesday in a Cleveland speech. Meanwhile, in Chicago on Tuesday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said--during a speech to a Rotary Club--that on Wednesday he will announce a "big" state jobs initiative.

The Republican National Committee raised the question on Tuesday: who paid for Assistant Veterans Affairs Secretary Tammy Duckworth to come to Illinois to campaign with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.

I asked Duckworth following her press conference with Giannoulias at the Volunteers of America service center.

Her answer: She paid her own way to come back to Illinois, where she has a home in the suburbs and where she spent the weekend. She took personal time off to campaign with Giannoulias. In Illinois, she will drive from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana to appear Tuesday afternoon with Giannoulias at a town hall.

The NRSC--the GOP Senate campaign operation--acting on behalf of Illinois Senate candidate Rep. Mark Kirk--shot back at Democrat Alexi Giannoulias after my story came out Tuesday morning outlining the new line of Giannoulias attack: going after Kirk for still claiming in 2003 that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The NRSC in their release ( full statement below, at the click) raises the point that many Democrats also believed the claims that WMD was in Iraq--a justification for the U.S. invasion.

The quotes they use are from 2002. The issue for the Giannoulias camp is that by June of 2003 questions were being raised by Senate Republicans about whether the U.S. acted on faulty intelligence.

Giannoulias, at his press conference Tuesday morning, raised the matter of Kirk speaking from the House floor on June 5, 2003 that he knew with "moral certitude" that Iraq had WMD. Kirk, said Giannoulias used his position as an intelligence officer in the Navy reserves and "falsely implied" he had information about WMD.

"And that's a record he has to defend," Giannoulias said.

Mark Kirk's GOP Illinois Senate campaign highlighted his veterans record, sending out a memo Tuesday morning in advance of a press conference Democrat Alexi Giannoulias is holding with wounded Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth at the Volunteers of America service center. In touting his record, Kirk's campaign emphasized that he broke party lines in several votes.

Giannoulias and Duckworth, a Veterans Affairs undersecretary--and former director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs will talk with some homeless veterans here getting jobs training and then take questions.

Wounded Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth will campaign today for Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, whose newest battle plan is to put increased scrutiny on GOP rival Mark Kirk over statements he made about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction -- even as Senate Republicans worried about faulty U.S. intelligence.

Pete Giangreco, a Giannoulias campaign consultant, said the latest Giannoulias attack will focus on Kirk's June 5, 2003, statement from the House floor, where Kirk, a Naval Reserve intelligence officer, said, "No weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? We know to a moral certitude of such weapons."

Assistant Veterans Affairs Secretary Tammy Duckworth returns to Illinois on Tuesday to campaign with Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, making her first appearance for a November contender. Duckworth, a wounded Iraq war vet, is the former Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs director.

She will appear with Giannoulias at a job training event in Chicago at the Volunteers of America Illinois on Tuesday morning and then head to Champaign-Urbana for an afternoon town hall meeting on veterans issues where Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will be joining them.

Giannoulias faces Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in the contest for President Obama's former Senate seat with every recent public poll showing the race in a tie. One of Kirk's major credentials had been his 21 years in the Navy reserves--though his record was tarnished this summer when stories surfaced about Kirk embellishing his career.

Duckworth is the second military official to campaign with Gianoulias. Last week, retired four-star Gen. Wesley Clark campaigned with Giannoulias at an event in Chicago.

Obama Sept. 6 week ahead


WASHINGTON--Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) headlines a Friday fund-raiser in Chicago for Democratic Illinois Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias.

The lunch event, at the Greek Islands restaurant in the heart of Greektown on Halsted has a sliding scale for donations, from $2,400 to $1,000.

That Nov. 2 special election for Senate in Illinois--to fill the few weeks that will be left to President Obama's term, in addition to a vote for the full six year term also on Nov. 2-means that Giannoulias, the state treasurer and GOP rival Rep. Mark Kirk (D-Ill.) can fund-raise for both contests at the same time.

Since federal contribution caps are for each election--for practical purposes the cap for the Senate race in Illinois is now double. For example, the Warner event: The invite notes that a donation of $2,400 can be made for the general election and $2,400 for the special general election.

WASHINGTON--Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani headlines a fund-raiser for Rep. Mark Kirk's Illinois Senate campaign Sept. 13 in Chicago.

Giuliani, who ran for president in the 2008 GOP primaries, has stumped for Kirk before, appearing with him in his north suburban 10th congressional district in 2008 and for his 2010 Senate primary contest.

The Kirk campaign thinks Giuliani will help draw in female suburban voters who will see Kirk in the Giuliani mold as a fiscal conservative, social moderate and national security hawk.

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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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