WASHINGTON -- President Obama hits Chicago on Thursday to fund-raise for Illinois Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias and give the first of what I learned will be several boosts to Gov. Quinn. I'm told that Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel is doing them all a favor by not campaigning on Thursday and sucking up all the attention.
Quinn campaign spokesman Mica Matsoff told me that Obama cut a radio spot for Quinn -- to start Monday -- where he says he will be voting for Quinn on Nov. 2 and urging others to cast their ballot for Quinn.
Emanuel's mayoral quest, born fully grown over the weekend, is triggering massive local and national media interest due to his political celebrity that may or may not translate to Chicago's 50 wards. In the meantime, there's much political chatter over whether Obama will or should endorse Emanuel, and if he does, when.
All this means is that if Emanuel, who quit as Obama's chief of staff on Friday, showed up anyplace on Thursday, the story line could likely shift to being about him, since Chicago, as we 606ers all know -- and I've been trying to explain to my curious colleagues here -- is massively mayoral centric. President, senator, governor, those are nice offices, but as they say in Chicago, it's good to be the mayor.
Obama is popular in Illinois, and his embrace of Giannoulias and now Quinn -- he does not do a lot of stuff for governors -- is what the White House and the Giannoulias and Quinn campaigns want the stories to be about in the free media today. More columns on Emanuel and White House palace intrigue over an election taking place next year can wait until another day.
Obama arrives in Chicago this afternoon to host two events; the proceeds will be split between the Giannoulias campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Obama heads to the Drake Hotel for a reception with tickets $500 to $2,400 per person.
After that he zips over to the Gold Coast to a private dinner co-hosted by Leslie Bluhm, her sister Meredith Bluhm Wolf and her husband, David Hefland, where the tickets start at $15,000 per person. Obama made his first fund-raising visit to Chicago for Giannoulias on Aug. 5. In a pitch for low-dollar donors -- between $10 and $250, Sen. Dick Durbin came up with a drawing; the winner gets to meet Obama.
Giannoulias, who has lagged behind GOP rival Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on the fund-raising front, gets more help from the White House on Monday, when first lady Michelle Obama headlines a fund-raising event for Giannoulias (and another reception for Illinois House candidates Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Rep. Bill Foster and Dan Seals) when she kicks off her midterm political tour.
Meanwhile, the Obama team is also bolstering Quinn. While Kirk and Giannoulias have been deadlocked for months, Quinn has been in an uphill battle with GOP nominee for governor state Sen. Bill Brady. Obama, Matsoff said, "has offered to do what he can to help his friend Pat Quinn."
Quinn and White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod have been friends for decades; even though Quinn parted ways with Axelrod's former media firm -- AKPD -- it's not surprising that Obama when he comes home today will be helping Quinn; I imagine there will be more to come.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday during a briefing that Obama will be greeting Quinn when he lands at O'Hare.
Matsoff said Quinn will be bringing two people who benefitted from his "Illinois to Work" jobs program to the tarmac to meet with Obama. While the Obama ad for Quinn starts Monday, on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden joins Quinn in Chicago for a ''Putting Illinois Back to Work'' get-out-the-vote rally at the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local 130 Hall on the near West Side.