Chicago Sun-Times
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January 2011 Archives

WASHINGTON--President Obama applied to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners for an absentee ballot to vote in the Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral primary election, I'm told by the White House.

Obama Jan. 31 week ahead

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David Axelrod behind his West Wing desk on Friday. (Photo by Lynn Sweet)
WASHINGTON---On his last full day in the White House, Senior Advisor David Axelrod and I talked about his two years in the White House, the 2012 Obama re-election campaign ahead and, of course, Rahm Emanuel's mayoral campaign. Read my Sun-Times column here.

Chicago will be headquarters for the 2012 campaign and Axelrod said there will be no Washington/Chicago disconnect. Axelrod told me, "People who objected to the notion of the campaign being in Chicago missed the fundamental point. There is no daylight between the folks who are going out to work on the campaign and the folks here. There is one Obama family. And everybody is on the same page, so I expect there to be a real seamlessness."

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama blew off U.S. fashion icon Oscar de la Renta--who criticized her for wearing a British designer--with words of advice of her own: "Women, wear what you love."

What a battle cry. Mrs. Obama made her remarks Friday to Robin Roberts on ABC's "Good Morning America."

For my story on how Mrs. Obama unwittingly waded into a buy America situation, click here.

WASHINGTON--Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina hits Chicago on Wednesday for meetings with major, mega Democratic donors, as the re-election drive starts to re-assemble the finance team that made Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid viable.

Obama's 2012 re-election campaign will be based in Chicago and will formally kick-off in March or April.

I have exclusive details of Messina's Chicago schedule:

*Media mogul and mega donor Fred Eychaner will be meeting with Messina. Last September, Obama handed Eychaner a plum appointment, making him a trustee
of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Obama at that same time also tapped business mogul Penny Pritzker for the same board Pritzker was the Finance Chair for Obama's 2008 campaign. She told me through a spokesman she will not be the 2012 finance chair, instead taking an "advisory" role in the re-elect.

*Neil Bluhm, a member of the 2008 Obama National Finance Committee, will host Messina meetings.

*Messina will also huddle with Democratic donor Laura Ricketts--one of the Chicago Cubs owners.

The next day, Messina heads to New York to start wooing big donors there. He also travels to Los Angeles and San Francisco on this first pre-official launch swing.

Job one, even before headquarter space is rented: get the donors jazzed up about raising almost $1 billion for 2012.

WASHINGTON -- Two of President Obama and first lady Michelle's closest friends -- Martin Nesbitt and his wife, Anita Blanchard -- are hosting a "meet and greet" for Rahm Emanuel at their Kenwood home on Tuesday.

Gery Chico Jan. 29 public schedule

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President Obama touts Rahm Emanuel for mayor in a radio spot released on Friday that will be played intensively on Chicago radio. While Obama has not officially endorsed Emanuel for mayor, he gave Emanuel a major send-off in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 1 when he stepped down to return to Chicago. Emanuel has use of the audio and video from that event. For practical political matters, heavy play of the Obama material from the October send-off will make it a minor matter--whether or not Obama issues an "official" endorsement. It will become a distinction without a difference.

Emanuel got choked up at his good-bye event--which he had a big hand in orchestrating.

below, from Emanuel campaign...


The Chicago for Rahm Emanuel campaign today released a new radio spot featuring President Barack Obama. In audio captured during Rahm's White House send-off, the President praises Rahm Emanuel for serving at his side as Chief of Staff during some of the toughest years our country has faced in generations. "There was no candidate for the job of Chief of Staff who would meet the bill as well as Rahm Emanuel," says President Obama. "He was not allowed to say no."

You can listen to the spot here.


President Obama: When I first started assembling this administration, I knew we were about to face some of the most difficult years this country has seen in generations.

VO: President Barack Obama, last year.

President Obama: I needed somebody at my side who I could count on to help get the job done. There was no candidate for the job of Chief of Staff who would meet the bill as well as Rahm Emanuel. And that's why I told him he had no choice in the matter. He was not allowed to say no. This was a great sacrifice for Rahm, Amy and the family, to move out here. He has been a great friend of mine. He has been a selfless public servant, he has been an outstanding Chief of Staff.

VO: Rahm Emanuel

RE: Thank you Mr. President, for your warm friendship, your confidence and the opportunity to serve you and our country. I give you my word that even as I leave the White House I will never leave that spirit of service behind.


WASHINGTON--Chicago mayoral hopeful Carol Moseley Braun, a former senator and ambassador, hits Washington on Wednesday for fund-raisers for his campaign hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Organization for Women. This out-of-town travel comes after she criticized rival Rahm Emanuel for flying to Hollywood for a funder hosted by his superagent brother Ari. The Chicago Sun-Times Fran Spielman and Abdon M. Pallasch have the story.

Braun lags seriously behind in fund-raising. As of Dec. 31, Emanuel had raised $10.5 million (on top of $1.1 million left over from his House warchest) to $2.5 million for attorney Gery Chico, to $450,000 for Braun and $110,000 for City Clerk Miguel Del Valle.

WASHINGTON -- If the national unemployment rate remains stuck at over 9 percent -- as it has for 20 months -- if people are worried they may be laid off or have their salaries reduced, if the home foreclosure crisis continues, if mortgages are hard to obtain and if baby boomers remain anxious about retirement, then the lovely, lofty and optimistic words in President Obama's second State of the Union speech will not have meant much.

Obama's address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night focused a lot on innovation to create jobs and for "winning the future," a forward looking slogan that sets up Obama's blueprint for 2011 and his 2012 re-election campaign as he deals with a GOP-controlled House and a Senate where Democratic strength is diminished.

In the wake of the Tucson shooting spree, members of Congress -- some crossing the aisle as a symbolic bid to bridge partisan divide -- toned up the evening for the public. More civility is good. Hooting and cheering, a standard in recent State of the Unions, demeaned the presidency and Congress.

Obama offered a balance throughout his speech, something for Republicans and Democrats. Examples of this studied calculation:

♦ While talking about the Tucson tragedy, Obama declined to call for more curbs on guns -- a guaranteed hot button issue that would stroke GOP ire.

♦ Obama was willing to take on, however, an equally polarizing issue, comprehensive immigration reform. Democrats had criticized him for not making it a priority in his first two years. "Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration," he said.

♦ Obama won repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the lame duck session last year, allowing gays to serve openly in the military. The president also offered something the Pentagon will welcome: He called on colleges to "to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation."

♦ With Republicans intent on repealing Obama's signature health care reform law -- it's symbolic since the Senate will not go along with the House on that -- Obama said he was open to some fixes. He offered the GOP medical malpractice reform to "rein in frivolous lawsuits." Obama also repeated his willingness to clean up what everyone seems to acknowledge was a mistake in the health care law, a requirement for businesses to file IRS 1099 forms for purchases over $600.

Republicans found Obama's proposal for a budget freeze unremarkable and falling short of solving the deficit problem.

House Speaker John Boehner was not pacified by Obama's call for a spending freeze. "Unfortunately, even as he talked about the need for fiscal discipline, President Obama called for more 'stimulus' spending without making a commitment to the cuts and reforms the American people are demanding," he said in a statement.

Obama's tone captured the bipartisan civility of the night. But opposition to him remains strong in the Republican House. Obama faces tough battles ahead.

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Charlie Rose and Lynn Sweet about Rahm Emanuel battle to stay on Chicago mayoral ballot; check out the segment here.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a stay of the Monday Illinois Appellate panel ruling Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel off the ballot. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners was ordered to include Emanuel's name on any ballots that were being printed in advance of the Feb. 22 primary.

The order says:

"This cause coming to be heard on the emergency motion of the petitioner, Rahm
Emanuel, a response having been flied by respondents, Walter P. Maksym et aI., and
the Court being fully advised in the premises;

IT (S ORDERED that the emergency motion by petitioner Rahm Emanuel for
stay pending appeal is allowed in part. The appellate court decision is stayed. The
Board of Elections is directed that if any ballots are printed while this Court is
considering this case, the ballots should Include the name of petitioner Rahm Emanuel
as a candidate for Mayor of the City of Chicago. That part of the motion requesting
expedited consideration of the petition for leave to appeal remains pending."

Chicago mayoral hopefuls Gery Chico and Rahm Emanuel--appealing Tuesday to the Illinois Supreme Court being knocked off the ballot--each picked up big union endorsements on Tuesday.

Emanuel won the Chicago Teamsters. Joint Council 25 President John Coli said at a press conference in Chicago, "we are ready to support this candidacy at all costs." Emanuel told reporters he was "confident I never lost my residency."

Chico got the backing of the Chicago firefighters union. "After examining the entire roster of candidates and their respective track records, we determined that nobody in this race has the relevant experience of delivering essential city services that Gery Chico possesses," Tom Ryan, president of Chicago Firefighters Local 2 said in a statement.

WASHINGTON--White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said Tuesday that President Obama believes former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel should be eligible to run for mayor--even though an Illinos appellate panel knocked him off the ballot on Monday.

Jarrett made the comments at the end of an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" with co-host George Stephanopoulos, who asked her what Obama thought of the appellate decision.

"Well, you know, we haven't talked to Rahm, but I'll tell you one thing we know is that he's going to vigorously appeal. Rahm is a fighter, and I'm sure -- as you know, he will be appealing to the Supreme Court, and I'm sure he will vigorously make that case."

Stephanopoulos pressed her asking, "Does he believe then -- so is it fair assume then that the president did believe that Rahm is eligible and the appeals court is wrong?"

Replied Jarrett, "Well, I think that he believes that he's eligible, and I believe that he believes that Rahm will pursue his appeal in the courts. And as he said then, he thinks Rahm would make a terrific mayor."

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel's lawyers on Monday asked the Illinois Supreme Court to expedite his request for an appeal of an Illinois Appellate panel knocking him off the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot on the grounds he did not meet the residency rules.

Emanuel's lawyers asked for a stay of an order banning him from the ballot--the ballots are about to be printed--and to quickly hear the case.

Read the Emergency Motion & Affidavit">emergency motion and affidavit here.

Read the Notice of Filing"> notice of filing here.

As the Rahm Emanuel Chicago mayoral residency case heads to the Illinois Supreme Court--an Illinois Appellate panel knocked him off the Feb. 22 primary ballot on Monday-- the question folks are asking is: What is Anne Burke going to do?

There are seven members of the Illinois Supreme Court and the one with the most political ties is Justice Anne Burke, married to Ald. Edward Burke (14th) the most powerful alderman in Chicago's City Council--and one of the biggest backers of Gery Chico's mayoral bid.

Read the Sun-Times story here about Burke's recusal record.

She may want to argue that she is a judge in her own right, has her own career and what her husband does is his business. But if that were so, Burke would not be on the Supreme Court today.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Chief of Staff Susan Sher heads back to Chicago at the end of the week, with Tina Tchen taking over. Sher was feted this week as she was packing to head home.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel met the standard for voting from Chicago--even though he rented his house out when he moved to Washington to serve as President Obama's chief of staff--but by doing so, forfeited his ability to qualify as a candidate for municipal office in Illinois, an Illinois Appellate panel ruled on Monday.

"We conclude that, under subsection 3.1-10-5(a) of the Municipal Code, a candidate must meet not only the Election Code's voter residency standard, but also
No. 1-11-0033 21 must have actually resided within the municipality for one year
prior to the election, a qualification that the candidate unquestionably does not satisfy," the panel concluded in the 2-1 ruling.

"Accordingly, we disagree with the Board's conclusion that he is eligible to run for the office of Mayor of the City of Chicago. We reverse the circuit court's judgment confirming the Board's decision, set aside the Board's decision, and, pursuant to
Supreme Court Rule 366(a)(5) (Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 366(a)(5) (eff. Feb. 1, 1994)), order that the candidate's name be excluded (or, if necessary, removed) from the ballot for the February 22, 2011, Chicago mayoral election."

The court sent out the opinion of the panel on Twitter. Read the entire decision and the dissent here.

Here is the link to the Illinois Appellate Court Twitter account

Chicago mayoral front-runner Rahm Emanuel was tossed off the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot by an Illinois Appellate panel, ruling in the residency challenge filed against the former White House chief of staff. The Chicago Sun-Times Abdon M. Pallash has the report.

Pallasch has an outstanding background story on the issues in the legal case: read it here.

Watch for an Emanuel statement within an hour.

Obama Jan. 24 week ahead

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WASHINGTON--Former Illinois treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who lost his Democratic Senate race is off to Buenos Aires, he told me, heading to Argentina to recharge and "write a book about the campaign and getting young people involved."

Catching up here; Giannoulias called to say he was leaving Chicago for a few months on Wednesday, while I was covering the arrivals at the China State dinner.

below, from the White House, a round-up of all the on-line activity the administration is organizing--including a President Obama YouTube interview and a Press Secretary Robert Gibbs twitter interview--pegged to Tuesday's State of the Union speech. Links and hashtags below....


On Tuesday, January 25, at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol. We have been working on a number of ways citizens can get involved in the State of the Union and ask their questions of President Obama and senior Administration officials. You can find all the details on our brand new State of the Union page.

Here's the lineup of events next week. Be sure to tune in to watch the speech live at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and find a way get involved.

Tuesday at 9 PM: Live Stream of the State of the Union
Watch the live stream of the State of the Union Address on

Tuesday Immediately After the Speech: Open for Questions
Immediately following the State of the Union Address, stay tuned for a live Open For Questions event where Senior White House officials will answer your questions about key issues addressed in the speech live from the White House. Panelists include:

· Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
· Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy
· David Simas, Director and Aide to the Senior Advisor
· Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.
Submit your questions on Twitter by replying to @whitehouse using the hashtag #sotu, on Facebook, or on ourwebform.

Wednesday: Twitter Interview with Press Secretary Gibbs
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will be taking your questions via Twitter before his post-State of the Union briefing on Wednesday, January 26. Follow @PressSec on Twitter to find out when he'll be taking your questions, then respond to @PressSec using the hashtag #1Q and watch for his video responses.
Thursday at 2:30 PM: Live YouTube Interview with President Obama
President Obama will answer your questions during a live YouTube interview at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday January 27. Submit your questions on
Thursday: Open for Questions Policy Roundtables
Throughout the day on Thursday, January 27, policy experts from the White House and around the Administration will be answering your questions key issue areas. You can submit your questions during the event on Facebookor ahead of time with participating sites. Check out the line up below:
· 11:30 AM EST: Economy Roundtable with Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, and communities from MSNMoney,, and
· 1:00 PM EST: Foreign Policy Roundtable with Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, and communities from,, and
· 3:15 PM EST: Education Roundtable with Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, and communities from mtvU, GOOD, BabyCenter, and PBS Education
· 4:30 PM EST: Health Care Roundtable with Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and communities from WebMD, AOL Health,, and medscape.
Vice President Joe Biden Answers Your Questions from Yahoo!
Vice President Joe Biden will be taking questions from Yahoo! readers. Be sure to check out The State of the Union page next week to find out how to submit your questions and watch for the answers.

Rahm Emanuel's mega donors

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Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel scored $10.6 million in a few months with the help of a group of mega donors, his new disclosure report reveals: the Sun-Times look at Emanuel donors is here.

WASHINGTON--Oprah Winfrey lands First Lady Michelle Obama for her show Friday, devoted to one of Mrs. Obama's main issues, military families. Other guests include Tom Brokaw and Bob Woodward.

"The Oprah Winfrey Show: The Bravest Families In America With First Lady Michelle Obama, Tom Brokaw and Bob Woodward" will be broadcast next Thursday, Jan. 27.

Click here for my Sun-Times story.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Miguel Del Valle raised only $110,000 by Dec. 31--and that's throwing in in-kind contributions.

Finance disclosure reports are due Thursday.

Gery Chico filed with $2.5 million.

Rahm Emanuel filed with $10.6 million

See previous posts here

Chicago mayoral hopeful Gery Chico raised $2.5 million as of Dec. 31 for his mayoral race, raising $2.8 million to date.

Today is the reporting day for the Chicago mayoral candidates.

So far:

Rahm Emanuel filed with $10.6 million raised on top of $1.1 million in his warchest. My report on Emanuel fund-raising is here.

Other reports to come

WASHINGTON--Illinois House members Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat, and Judy Biggert, a Republican, will sit together--on the GOP side of the House chamber--when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, part of a civility movement gaining wind in the wake of the Tucson shootings that wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Biggert and Gutierrez are both members of the Financial Services Committee; Biggert is the new chairman and Gutierrez is the new ranking Democrat on the panel's Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.

Giffords also served on the committee.

"Sitting side-by-side may not lead to a major shift in policy, but it's important to show that Members of Congress - like the American people - will always stand together in the face of adversity," Biggert said.

Gutierrez said "we really do have friends on the Republican side of the aisle" and that the attempt to lower the political rhetoric is "a kind of salute to Giffords."

As I reported on Thursday, the Illinois senators, Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Mark Kirk, a Republican will sit together.

So will Illinois House members Dan Lipinski, a Democrat and Bob Dold, a Republican.

Said Lipinski, "The American people want to see partisan bickering replaced with productive debate and problem-solving. Democrats and Republicans will always have their differences, but we must find ways to work together for the good of the country. I reached out to Rep. Dold in the hope that a display of unity at the State of the Union address will help change the tone in Washington and lead to bipartisan solutions to important problems."

WASHINGTON--With the Bears and Packers facing each other on Sunday, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) placed a friendly wager with Rep Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) who represents Green Bay.

If the Bears win, Ribble will wear a Bears tie for a day in Washington and deliver some special Wisconsin treats to Lipinski's office: bratwursts from Maplewood Meats in Green Bay and fried cheese curds from Scray's Cheese in De Pere.

If the Packers win, Lipinski will wear a Packers tie and send Ribble pizza from the Home Run Inn, the famous Southwest Side pizzeria.

WASHINGTON---Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel collected $10.6 million for his campaign since he jumped in the race last fall, on top of $1.1 million he had left over from his House political warchest.

Emanuel's warchest was bolstered by his two chief fund-raisers: Anne Olaimey, an Emanuel campaign senior advisor who has fund-raised for Emanuel's other campaigns and Jordan Kaplan, the Emanuel campaign finance director who was one of Obama's top fund-raisers while Obama was in the Senate and for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

Emanuel--who got his start in politics as a professional fund-raiser--raised the money under Illinois rules that allowed him--only as of Dec. 31--to collect unlimited campaign cash from individuals. Under new rules in place on Jan. 1, each person is limited to $5,000.

The full report is not yet available--it will be later today--to see the breakdown of mega donations and where Emanuel's donors live.

Statement from the Emanuel campaign: "Not only do these contributions reflect the strength of our support across Chicago, but they include contributions from business and philanthropic leaders around the country who believe in Rahm's leadership and his vision for the city," said campaign manager Scott Fairchild. "In these tough economic times, Rahm has committed to raise private funds to support programs essential to Chicago, like a Race to the Top for schools and a local Dream Act for hardworking immigrant children. If elected, he will ask these donors and other leaders around the country to commit to investing in Chicago's future."

WASHINGTON--President Obama predicted the Bears will beat the Packers and even offered a score: 20 for Chicago to 17 for Green Bay, according to the White House.

The difference in the game, a White House source said will be the crowds and the Bears playing home at Soldier Field.

The Superbowl is Feb. 6 in Dallas and Obama if the Bears are in, he will go to the game.
He was asked about football's biggest game and his hometown football team at the end of his meeting with China's president, Hu Jintao.

"Oh, if the Bears are in the Super Bowl, we're going," Obama said.

WASHINGTON--President Obama's team made it official on Thursday: his 2012 re-election campaign will be based in Chicago and will formally kick-off in March or April. The Sun-Times has learned White House Social Secretary Julianna Smoot will be leaving to take on a large role in the drive for a second term, as a deputy campaign manager.

Obama headquartered his 2008 national campaign from a high rise at 233 N. Michigan Ave., an ideal location at the time since Obama was an Illinois senator living in Chicago and his top advisor--David Axelrod--and his top fund-raiser--Penny Pritizker--lived in the city and Chicago was a central jumping off for the early primary states.

Axelrod, now a senior White House advisor, will be leaving Washington in a few weeks to return to Chicago for the re-election campaign. A lease has not yet been signed on heaquarter office space.

The Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed:

*White House Social Secretary Julianna Smoot, the finance director who was key to creating and executing the fund-raising plan that allowed Obama to early on build a major national political organization will be leaving the East Wing to join the 2012 re-election campaign--in a larger capacity, deputy campaign manager.

*Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina will move to Chicago to manager the campaign. Messina has scheduled meetings in Chicago on Feb. 2 to re-connect with leaders from the 2008 campaign drive.

*The Democratic National Committee will start moving field resources to Chicago, including Mitch Stewart, the director of Organizing for America, which was the Obama for America 2008 successful grass roots effort. DNC executive director Jen O'Malley Dillon will move over to the 2012 campaign as the deputy campaign manager.

*The new DNC executive director will be Patrick Gaspard, who now runs the White House political office. That office, a Democratic official told me, will soon be closed and all political activity run out of the DNC and the re-elect campaign.

WASHINGTON -- Chicago's new mayor will be sworn in on May 16, and come May 17, Mayor Daley says, he will wake up with nothing he has to do.

But on Wednesday, he said he's got some ideas on how he wants to spend his time when he leaves City Hall: teach and write a book.

"For 30 years, I've had a schedule," said Daley, who was in Washington for the first stop of what I suspect will be a months-long farewell tour. Daley, 69, has been an elected official full-time since being sworn-in as Cook County state's attorney in 1980 and Chicago mayor on April 4, 1989. Before that, he was a state senator.

Daley revealed for the first time that he was mulling a book. "I'm thinking about it," he said. Publishers may have already sent out feelers. "We're looking at something like that."

I asked him if he had in mind a memoir or a book on policy. "More policy, and maybe a little memoir as well," he said.

Daley is also considering doing some teaching. "I would love to," he told me when I asked him about his plans. Each year he gives a presentation to a class at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business; he's also been a speaker at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

What would be his courses? Leadership and government, Daley said, and "a look at urban issues around the world."

Daley also said he has not decided where he wants his mayoral papers to go. The University of Illinois at Chicago is the home to the Richard J. Daley Forum, an annual urban affairs symposium named after his late father. Where his archive is established, he told me, is something he will "figure out" later.

Daley was in Washington for what will probably be his last official visit. On Tuesday night, he dined with wife Maggie at Café Milano in Georgetown with brother Bill, the new White House chief of staff, and his wife, Bernadette Keller, and White House senior adviser David Axelrod and his wife, Susan. Axelrod has long been one of Daley's chief political advisers.

On Wednesday, Daley was honored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and applauded by Illinois mayors and Sen. Dick Durbin in Durbin's Capitol office. He ended the day in the White House with wife Maggie at a state dinner for China President Hu Jintao. It was not his first state dinner -- Daley could not remember how many he has attended -- but his last as mayor.

Daley has long been active with the mayor's group, and he got a sentimental goodbye from his brother and sister mayors. In his speech, Daley recalled that his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, was a president of the group in 1959-1960 and family vacations were at mayoral conferences.

The Tucson massacre was very much on the minds of the mayors, and Daley, always a strong advocate for curbs on handguns, used his speech to renew his plea for "common sense" restrictions.

"Gun violence," Daley said, "is overtaking us."

Daley returned to a familiar theme of his: that mayors are the officials who are the least partisan because they actually have to deliver services.

Said Daley, "We mayors, as my father taught me, we are the closest to the people. They can find the mayor. They can't find the governor, they can't find the president, they can't find the county board, congressmen, senators. They can find the mayor."

WASHINGTON--When actress Barbra Streisand stopped for moment before reporters gathered at a spot to watch arrivals to President Obama and Mrs. Obama's state dinner for Hu Jintao, the president of the People's Republic of China, she was asked why she was invited.

Quipped the star: "I worked in a Chinese restaurant." Said Mayor Daley when he arrived with wife Maggie: "Go Bears!"

For a load of details, below is the pool report from Politico's state dinner team, Amie Parnes and Kendra Marr.

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Mayor Daley, wife Maggie arriving at China State Dinner (photo by Lynn Sweet)

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Barbra Streisand, James Brolin (photo by Lynn Sweet)

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B.D. Wong, Roberta Wong (photo by Lynn Sweet)

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Vera Wang (photo by Lynn Sweet)

susan sher neil.JPGFirst Lady Chief of Staff Susan Sher and husband, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

The guest list for the Obama China State dinner include Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and wife Maggie; stars Barbra Streisand and her husband, James Brolin; actor B.D. Wong and his mother, Roberta and also from Chicago, Tom and Margot Pritzker.

CHICAGOANS AT THE DINNER: Mayor Daley and wife Maggie; White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and wife Bernadette Keller; Education Secretary Arne Duncan and wife Karen; Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett; Senior Advisor David Axelrod and wife Susan; Motorola's Greg Brown and Anna-Louise Brown; Boeing's W. James McNerney and Haity McNerney; Tom and Margot Pritzker; First Lady Chief of Staff Susan Sher and her husband, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen; Tina Tchen, Office of Public Engagement Director; and from Decatur, Archer Daniels Midland's Patricia Woertz and Kelvin Westbrook.

Olympic skater Michelle Kwan; martial arts star Jackie Chan; designer Vera Wang; Viet Nam Memorial architect Maya Lin; cellist Yo Yo Ma, actors Barbra Steisand and husband James Brolin.

Click below for the entire list.

china dinner1.JPGChina State Dinner place setting in the White House Blue Room (photo by Lynn Sweet)

china dinner2.JPGChina State Dinner in the State Dining Room, head table under Lincoln portrait (photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--President Obama and First Lady Michelle honor Hu Jintao, president of the People's Republic of China at a State Dinner on Wednesday night with 225 guests held entirely in the White House--not in bigger tents on the South Lawn used for the leaders of Mexico and India. The entertainment is jazz, as American as apple pie--which is one of the deserts.

Guests will be scattered in three rooms in the White House: Blue, Red, State, with the presidents eating in the State Dining room seated in a long table seating 20. Television monitors are in each room so the guests can see the toasts and the rest of the State Dining room action.

Unlike the other state dinners in the Obama White House, this time there is no guest chef: overseeing the fine dining is White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford, a native of Manilla, Phillippines, appointed to the position by former First Lady Laura Bush in 2005, joined by William Yosses, the White House executive pastry chef. Rafenelli Events were the event planners--the same firm that planned Chelsea Clinton's wedding.

The entertainment:

Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti, Lang Lang, Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater.

The menu:

D'Anjou Pear Salad with Farmstead Goat Cheese
Fennel, black walnuts and white balsamic

Poached Maine Lobster, Orange glaze carrots and black trumpet mushrooms
wine--Dumul Chardonnay "Russian River" 2008

Lemon sorbet

Dry aged rib eye with buttermilk crisp onions
Double stuffed potatoes and creamed spinach
wine--Quilceda Creek Cabernet "Columbia Valley" 2005

Old fashioned apple pie with vanilla ice cream
wine-- Poet's Leap Riesling "botrytis" 2008

WASHINGTON--At the State of the Union next week, Illinois senators Mark Kirk, a Republican, and Dick Durbin, the Democrat who is the number two leader in the Senate, plan to sit together. The attempt to bridge the partisan divide is a reaction to the Tucson shootings; the tragedy prompted calls to try to cool heated political rhetoric. One way to do that--end the tradition of having Democrats and Republicans sit on separate sides of the House chamber during the State of the Union, a seating arrangement that makes it easier to hoot and cheer and make the event seem more political than substantive.

Watch for Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) also look for a Democrat to partner with at the Jan. 25 speech.

WASHINGTON -- Three Chicago area CEOs will be among 14 U.S. corporate executives at the White House today to meet with President Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Chinese business leaders.

Hu, the leader of the world's second superpower, landed here Tuesday and remains in the capital until Thursday, when he flies to Chicago for a trip that wraps up on Friday. Trade relations and national security are the major agenda items on this state visit, with China's human rights record not a priority for the Obama team at this time.

Hu will be feted at a state dinner tonight, the third of the Obama administration. Earlier in the day the two presidents will spend about 45 minutes with executives from the two nations.

"The focus of that discussion will be on ways to expand trade and investment opportunities between our two countries," National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said at a briefing Friday. "There will be American CEOs who have large interests and investments in China. And I'm sure there will be discussion there about how American business can better do business in China."

The Chicago area CEOs are Motorola's Greg Brown, Boeing's Jim McNerney and HSBC's John Thornton. Among those from the administration joining the meeting will be White House chief of staff Bill Daley and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Front-runner Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel brought in former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday to rally support and raise some campaign cash. But Clinton showing up in Chicago gave rivals Gery Chico and Miguel Del Valle a peg to slam Emanuel Tuesday for his tenure at Freddie Mac, the government sponsored enterprise that melted down during the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Clinton named Emanuel to the board--a sought after political bonanza--in 2000. The Chicago Sun-Times Abdon M. Pallasch and Fran Spielman have the story here.

Chicago Tribune March, 2009 story detailing how little work Rahm Emanuel did for at least $320,000 at Freddie Mac is here.

WASHINGTON--President Obama tapped Bradford White, an Evanston housing and historic building consultant, for a spot on the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation.

White is a former executive at Chicago's The Habitat Co., whose former president is White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.

bio from the White House:

Bradford J. White is a Principal of Brad White & Associates in Evanston, Illinois, providing development consulting on affordable housing and historic resources. He is the former Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Development at The Habitat Company LLC. Prior to joining Habitat, Mr. White was Vice President of Related Midwest LLC, where he was responsible for the acquisition, financing and development of affordable and market-rate housing. He serves on the board of the Illinois Housing Council and is past chair of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois and Preservation Action. Mr. White received a B.A. in economics from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from DePaul University.

rahm clinton.jpgPhoto by the Chicago Sun-Times

Former President Bill Clinton hit Chicago on Tuesday to boost Rahm Emanuel's mayoral campaign. Read Chicago Sun-Times Abdon M. Pallasch report here on the event at the Cultural Center.
The Clinton event is making heavy national news in print and broadcast outlets. On Tuesday night John King over at CNN chewed over the significance of Clinton coming to Chicago with Roland Martin and the BGA's Andy Shaw. At MSNBC, Ed Schultz featured a segment pegged to the Clinton visit.

Excerpt from Bill Clinton speech: "Now, Rahm's not even six feet tall. He probably weighs about 150 pounds dripping wet, but in all the ways it matters he is a very big person for this job.

"....And I watched Rahm labor in President Obama's White House and listened to him and the president and our leaders in Congress being called socialists and every other -- more unkind names, and they just kept on doing what had to be done to turn this country around. So he's a big person. He's made big decisions and he has paid attention to how they should be implemented.

"...You need a big mayor. .... f you want a big mayor, if you want to be faithful to the spirit of Carl Sandburg's poem, if you want to reinvent yourself one more time and come out better than ever, if you want the Windy City to have a gale-force of leadership, Rahm Emanuel is your mayor."

WASHINGTON---Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said President Obama got his "mojo back" with the hiring of Bill Daley as White House chief of staff to replace Rahm Emanuel and with his Tucson speech. But Sarah Palin, who Gingrich called a "formidable" force needs to slow down and think things through more before she speaks out. Palin has been on the defensive over the use of the term "blood libel" in a video she made in the wake of the Tucson shooting spree. She explained her use of the phrase in an interview Monday with Fox's Sean Hannity. Gingrich made his comments during an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" with co-host George Stephanopoulos.

Gingrich on Bill Daley and President Obama:

"Well, he certainly got a lot of strength back. I think bringing in Bill Daley will be an enormous asset. I've worked with Bill over the years. He's a very solid, very competent guy who understands the business community and, in the great Chicago tradition, understands getting things done. So that was a good step.

"I thought that his speech in Tucson was very effective. It was what a president should do in a moment like that. I think he deserves the approval that you just showed in your poll, and I join the 71 percent of Republicans who approved of it.

"I thought it was exactly the right tone for him. The audience wasn't always the right tone, but the president was. And I think that that certainly help him."

Gingrich on Sarah Palin:

"Well, I think that she's got to slow down and be more careful and think through what she's saying and how she's saying it. There's no question that she's become more controversial, but she is still a phenomenon. I mean, I don't know anybody else in American politics who can put something on Twitter or put something on Facebook and automatically have it become a national story.

"She remains, I think, a very formidable person in her own right."

WASHINGTON--The four major Chicago mayoral candidates took questions from students pn Monday during a joint appearence on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight."" Three of the four--Carol Moseley Braun, Rahm Emanuel and Miguel Del Valle but not Gery Chico--talked about being bullied as youths. Chicago Sun-Times city hall reporter Fran Spielman and political writer Abdon M. Pallasch have the report on the hour-long session here.

The kids were members of a group called the "Mikva Challenge," an organization founded by former congressman, federal judge and White House counsel Abner Mikva and his wife Zoe to educate students about civic and political affairs.

Sarah Palin defends and explains the use of the term blood libel during an interview Sunday on the Fox Sean Hannity show.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated her 47th birthday Monday night by going to dinner with President Obama. The First Couple went to a Wolfgang Puck eaterie called "The Source," located at The Newseum.

Last year Mrs. Obama and a gang of friends from Chicago hit Restaurant Nora in Washington. Read my post from 2010 here.

WASHINGTON--Andy Samberg, who plays a profanity driven Rahm Emanuel on Saturday Night Live, hits Chicago on Friday to headline a fund-raiser for the Chicago mayoral hopeful at the Paris Club; general admission donation is $50. Former President Bill Clinton is the draw at an Emanuel fund-raiser Tuesday--top ticket price is $5,000--at the Cultural Center. Clinton also stars at a rally for Emanuel.

rahm samberg.jpeg

Obama Jan. 17 week ahead

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WASHINGTON--On Nov. 29, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) talked about holding a joint town hall while at a party marking Kirk's swearing-in. After holding four town halls with Republicans, Kirk marks his first with a Democrat--Davis--on Saturday in Chicago.

Kirk and Davis were to meet at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson.

Kirk's first town halls were with three newly elected Republican House members from the suburbs: Bob Dold, Joe Walsh, and Randy Hultgren; one in Champaign with GOP state Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign) and a solo event in Collinsville.

rahm front page.jpg
above, Sun-Times front page Jan. 15, 2011

Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel was questioned about his ties to Freddie Mac--and a wisecrack he was reported making about Tampons--during a joint appearence on Friday before the Chicago Tribune editorial board. Read the Chicago Sun-Times report on the Tribune session by Fran Spielman and Abdon M. Pallasch here.

below, video from the Tribune edit board


The major Chicago mayoral rivals--Gery Chico, Carol Moseley Braun, Rahm Emanuel and Miguel Del Valle--sparred Thursday during a joint appearence before the Tribune editorial board. Read the report on the session by Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman and Political Writer Abdon M. Pallasch here.

WASHINGTON--Mayor Daley and wife Maggie have been invited to their first Obama White House state dinner--on Wednesday, honoring China's president Hu Jintao--with Chicago's trade ties to China a good a reason to include them--as well as having a Chicago president and top aides from the city.

I confirmed the state dinner invitation with the White House. Daley's visit here next week will also include him being honored at the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a group he has been very active in during his tenure as mayor, which ends next May. Daley will receive the groups "Distinguished Public Service Award."

The day after the state dinner Hu heads to Chicago, with several hundred Chinese business executives for meetings on Thursday and Friday aimed at promoting trade with the U.S. in general and the Chicago area and Midwest in particular. Mayor Daley is hosting a dinner for Hu on Thursday night.

The state dinner for Hu will be the first for mayoral brother Bill Daley in his role as Obama's new chief of staff and one of the last major events for senior advisor David Axelrod, who will return to Chicago in a few weeks to oversee Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. The East Wing, overseen by First Lady Michelle Obama, runs state dinners and this will be the last one for Mrs. Obama's chief of staff Susan Sher, who is also moving back to Chicago.

Bill Daley replaced former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who left to run for mayor of Chicago. Taking over for Sher will be Tina Tchen, a Chicagoan already in the White House working for Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.

The glue that holds every name mentioned so far is that they all have long-standing relationships with Mayor Daley--in various political or governmental roles.

WASHINGTON -- President Obama's memorable Tucson speech, where he appealed to the nation to "heal," not "wound," was written in part by a Chicago native and a 2002 Northwestern graduate Cody Keenan.

Keenan, 30, was born in Lake View. He lived there till he was 5, when his family moved to Evanston and Wilmette (where he attended Central Elementary and Wilmette Junior High) before heading to Connecticut for high school.

WASHINGTON--A day after First Lady Michelle Obama attended a Tucson memorial for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other victims of a shooting spree, she urged parents to use the tragedy to teach children tolerance, prayer and compassion.

As parents may struggle to explain to kids how a gunman can open fire on a crowd, Mrs. Obama offered advice through an "open letter to parents" posted on Thursday afternoon on the White House web site.

Referring to Malia and Sasha, Mrs. Obama wrote, "the questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have - and they don't lend themselves to easy answers. But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons - about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.

"We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis. And we can help them do that in their own small way - whether it's by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.

"We can teach them the value of tolerance - the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.

"We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families. We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it. "

Click below for full letter.

Former President Bill Clinton hits Chicago Tuesday for a rally and fund-raiser for Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph. Emanuel on Thursday also released a new television spot, titled "Hard Truths" continuing an ad blitz no rival has matched--and spending some $2 million already.

Rival Carol Moseley Braun told Clinton to stay out of the Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral primary when the news broke last month that Clinton was coming to the city to help his one-time White House staffer and campaign fund-raiser. Rep. Danny Davis, when he was in the mayor's race, also told Clinton to stand down.

So much for that.

Clinton--last in Chicago just before the November election for a get-out-the-vote rally in the Palmer House--helped Emanuel when he was in a tough House primary in February, 2002.

WASHINGTON--Two close friends of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords provided a remarkable condition report following their visit with her at her Tuscon hospital room. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand offer a detailed account of Giffords first movements--opening an eye and moving limbs--while talking to reporters on Air Force One returning with President Obama following the Tucson memorial service for the victims of Saturday's massacre.

Excerpt, from Gillibrand: Debbie and I started joking about all the things we were going to do after she got better. And we were holding her hand and she was responding to our hand-holding. She was rubbing our hands and gripping our hands so we could -- she could really -- we knew she could hear and understand what we were saying and she moved her leg, and so we knew she was responding. And the more we joked about what we were going to do, she started to open her eyes literally.

And then you have to recognize, her eyes hadn't opened -- we didn't know that -- and so she started to struggle. And one of her eyes is covered with a bandage because it was damaged in the gunfire. So her eye is flickering. And Mark sees this and gets extremely excited. And we didn't -- I didn't know what that meant. And so he said, Gabby, open your eyes, open your eyes. And he's really urging her forward. And the doctor is like perking up and everyone is coming around the bed. And she's struggling and she's struggling and it's a good -- we couldn't figure it out, maybe 30 seconds, where she's really trying to get her eyes open, like doing this, this, this.

And then she finally opens her eyes and you could she was like desperately trying to focus and it took enormous strength from her. And Mark could just -- can't believe it. I mean, he's so happy. And we're crying because we're witnessing something that we never imagined would happen in front of us.

Below, the transcript:

Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

WASHINGTON-- Sarah Palin used a painful phrase--"blood libel" ---in reacting to critics in the wake of the Tucson shooting spree. David Gibson at Politics Daily takes a look at the history behind the words so hurtful to Jews and the controversy Palin touched off on Wednesday.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle fly to Tucson on Wednesday for a memorial service for victims of Saturday's shooting spree that killed six and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Az.)--whose grandfather was a Hornstein. Read about Giffords embrace of Judiasm---the daughter of a Jewish father and Christian Scientist mother--is here.

WASHINGTON--Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) will ask new GOP House leaders to increase members operating budgets in order to pay for more security in their districts, a proposal made in the wake of the Saturday Tucson shooting spree that left 14 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Az.), and six dead.

Jackson stressed in an interview with the Sun-Times that after the 9-11 attacks the Capitol, embassies, military bases and federal buildings were physically fortified--but lawmakers work out of offices with no special protections.

President Obama at the White House and congressional leaders at the Capitol on Monday marked a minute of silence at 11 a.m. est on Monday to mark the tragic shootings in Tucson.

Former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is the chair of a major fund-raiser for Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel--the former White House chief of staff--Monday night headlined by songster and South Sider Jennifer Hudson. Rogers is the CEO of Johnson Publishing Co.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn gets sworn-in to his first elected term as governor on Monday. Quinn stepped up to the governorship when he was lieutenant governor and then Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached.

Obama Jan. 10 week ahead

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Below, Jan. 10 week ahead President Obama schedule issued before the Giffords tragic shootings in Tucson. The Tuesday trip to Schenectady, New York, has been canceled.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Gery Chico unveiled two television spots on Monday; his campaign said he will remain on the air until the Feb. 22 primary. Rival Rahm Emanuel has been on the air for months and has already spent almot $2 million on ads.

Chico's spots deal with crime and jobs and come as his campaign is kicking into higher gear; on Sunday, he picked up the endorsement of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).

Rahm Emanuel is in a solid lead in the first public poll for the Chicago mayoral race taken since the field has shrunk to four major contenders: Emanuel, Gery Chico, Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel Del Valle.

The survey, conducted for Chicago Teamsters Joint Council 25 in the upcoming Chicago mayoral race shows former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel far ahead of his rivals--both for the Feb. 22 primary and the April 5 run-off.

Emanuel is the only contender running significant television advertising in the contest, already spending close to $2 million dollars on spots.

The survey of 500 ikely voters was conducted for the Teamsters council--representing 22 locals in the Chicago area-- by Anzalone Liszt Research between Jan. 4-6, after state Sen. James Meeks and Rep. Danny Davis dropped out of the contest in order to try to consolidate black support for Braun.

The is is the second Teamsters Chicago mayoral poll. Read the results of the Nov. 8--14 survey here.

The January poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error. The Teamsters have a lot of members in the city and wanted a poll for guidance, I was told. I did not see the whole poll but did get a memo, which is at the bottom of this post.

The January Teamster poll head to head:

42 Emanuel
26 Moseley Braun
10 Chico
7 Del Valle

The November Teamster poll head to head:

36 Emanuel
14 Davis
13 Moseley Braun
10 Chico
7 Meeks
4 Del Valle

Click below for the polling memo.

The four major candidates running for Chicago mayor meet for their first televised debate Jan. 17 on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight."

From WTTW: "During the forum, candidates Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, Miguel del Valle, and Rahm Emanuel will field questions from an audience of more than 200 Chicago Public High School students who are members of the Mikva Challenge. The forum will focus specifically on issues of importance to young people, including education, violence prevention, and employment."

"The one-hour event, hosted by Phil Ponce and Carol Marin, will be the first televised forum where all four of the major candidates for mayor of Chicago will appear together. Chicago Tonight will host another candidate forum live on Monday, February 14th."

WASHINGTON--Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, serving a prison term on federal corruption charges, was released briefly on Wednesday to visit his severely ill wife, Lura Lynn, according to a document filed in federal court in Chicago.

The disclosure of the visit came in a brief filed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in a showdown with Ryan over his request to be released to be with his wife in what may be her last days.

From the filing: "The government does not dispute that Mrs. Ryan's medical condition is grave. In fact, recognizing the seriousness of her condition, on the evening of Wednesday, January 5, 2011, the Bureau of Prisons granted Ryan an escorted trip to the hospital where is wife is being treated. There, according to officials at the Bureau of Prisons, Ryan visited with his wife for approximately two hours between approximately 7:30 and 9:40 p.m. Thus, through normal prison procedures, Ryan has been able to
visit with his wife. The district court correctly determined that Ryan should not
receive treatment that other defendants would not receive based on his wife's
medical condition."


WASHINGTON -- When former Commerce Secretary William Daley takes over as fellow Chicagoan President Obama's chief of staff in a few weeks, he brings a resume unique in American politics and government to an administration trying to regain its footing and launch Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.

Daley, 62, the son and brother of Chicago mayors, is taking on an assignment that may well cap his career giving him an opportunity to help Obama repair relations with the business community while at the same time minister to the Democratic liberal wing -- some members not very enthused about his selection. A devoted centrist, Daley will move here from Chicago as Republicans have taken control of the House and strengthened their numbers in the Senate.

Obama announced Daley as his new chief of staff in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, the same place where in October he gave a send-off to former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who was quitting to run for Chicago mayor in the wake of Mayor Daley's decision not to seek another term. The audience included Vice President Biden, several cabinet members and the two Chicagoans who have played a major role in Obama's stunning trajectory that took him in a matter of years from the Illinois Senate to the White House: Senior advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett.

Both Axelrod and Jarrett have known Daley for years -- way before either of them ever met Obama, who, arriving in Chicago in the 1990s was a relative newcomer on the scene. Daley himself has never been particularly close to Obama or part of his inner circle -- what they have in common is a strong connection to Axelrod, who served as a strategist for both Obama and Mayor Daley.

Neither as brash as Emanuel -- Daley's onetime protege -- but just as capable of being blunt -- White House officials told me Daley was hired on because of his experience in the three worlds he has straddled: politics, government and especially his business ties.

Obama summed it up in his remarks: "Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job. He served as a member of President Clinton's Cabinet, as Commerce secretary . . . He's led major corporations. He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy. And, needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait."

Daley returns to the White House from the banking world, the Midwest chief for J.P. Morgan Chase since 2004, before that president of SBC. He's also run Chicago's Amalgamated Bank and as a partner at the law firm of Mayer Brown, handled government relations, with his close relationship to the late Rep. Dan Rostenkowski very helpful. Obama White House policy will call for Daley to recuse himself from any J.P. Morgan matter for two years.

One of Daley's major accomplishments was as "NAFTA Czar," winning congressional approval for then-President Clinton of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- with a big assist from Emanuel. Clinton named Daley to the Fannie Mae board and in his second term made Daley his Commerce secretary, where Daley performed for the first time on a global stage.

Vice President Gore drafted Daley to take over his troubled 2000 presidential bid. By that time Daley had advised the 1988 Biden presidential campaign and Vice President Mondale's 1984 bid.

Daley is expected to be a pragmatic manager. He's already been public about his disagreement with Obama over taking on health care reform. The practical Daley will have to convince Obama's liberal base -- which needs to be fired up for the 2012 contest -- that he will be an honest broker.

Long time Daley watcher Don Rose on William Daley in Politico here.

Mayor Daley, brother of new White House chief of staff William Daley, in Chicago on Thursday scoffed at the notion there were too many Chicagoans in the White House. As if that could ever be.

Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman has the story here.

Daley Obama.JPG William Daley, President Obama (photo by Lynn Sweet)

Click below for transcript...

WASHINGTON--Former Commerce Secretary William Daley will be named on Thursday President Obama's new chief of staff, the Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed, replacing Rahm Emanuel who stepped down to run for Chicago mayor.

Daley, the Chicago-based Midwest chief of JP Morgan Chase will start his new job in a few weeks, a senior administration official said. Interim Chief of Staff Pete Rouse will be elevated to the position of counsel to the president.

Obama will make the official announcement 1:30 p.m Chicago time at the White House.

Daley met with Obama and others on Wednesday at the White House.

Rouse had been working on a White House reorganization for months and though he got high grades for stepping in after Emanuel left in October, "Pete didn't want to spend the next two years as chief of staff," the official said

Daley comes on board as the Obama team is ramping up for the 2012 re-election campaign; he brings to the table not only substantial corporate and government experience, but a long political portfolio: he ran former Vice President Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.

As part of the mid-term shake-up, Senior Advisor David Axelrod is returning to Chicago to help oversee the Obama 2012 campaign. Daley--as is Emanuel--has long been close to Axelrod, who advised Mayor Daley's campaigns.

Daley's appointment is also seen as a renewed hand out to the business community, whose relations with the White House need to be improved.

Emanuel, asked last week by Chicago reporters about the possibility of Daley taking his old job, said, "The most (important) thing here is what the President wants. This is outside of key members of the cabinet, the chief of staff is a key decision and the President has to make a decision where he feels that the person can give him the type of advice that‚s necessary and manage the White House and help think through the set of challenges and competing interests you have.

"Bill is a friend of mine. We worked together when I was in President Clinton's White House an he was in the cabinet and he stayed and remains a good friend of mine and he's quite capable. But, the most important thing is what the President wants from a chief-of-staff. And every President is different and, during their presidency, there are different things you would want out of a chief-of-staff. That is what's important˜what the President wants and what he envisions for that job.

Daley is a political centrist and a Wall Street veteran, the appointment of Daley may raise some concerns from the Democratic left. Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said the appointment was a "mistake" because Daley, Green asserted, urges Democrats to "pursue a corporate agenda."

William Michael Daley, 62, received his undergraduate degree from Loyola University and his law degree from John Marshall. He's been a vice chairman of Amalgamated Bank and a partner at Mayer Brown.

Daley joined the Clinton administration in 1993 as a special counsel to work--with Emanuel--on congressional passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Clinton named Daley Commerce Secretary in his second term. Clinton appointed Daley to the board of the Federal National Mortgage Association in 1993, a consolation prize for passing him over as transportation secretary during Clinton's first term.

WASHINGTON--Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean--and former Democratic National Committee chair--on Wednesday backed former Commerce Secretary William Daley for White House Chief of Staff. Dean made his comments about the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. President Obama is expected to make a decision soon on a replacement for Rahm Emanuel, who stepped down to run for Mayor of Chicago.

WASHINGTON--Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was one of 19 House Democrats who declined on Wednesday to vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as Democratic leader.

Lipinski, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House has long been at ideological odds with Pelosi during her time as House Speaker.

Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, ended her tenure when she turned over the gavel to new Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Lipinski said in a statement that since the selection of Pelosi was a foregone conclusion--Democrats, as did Republicans held meetings before Wednesday to pick their leaders for the 112th Congress--the Wednesday vote was "largely symbolic."

With that in mind, Lipinski, who is Polish-American, cast a vote for Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who he called, in his statement, "a Polish-American Democrat from Toledo who is the most senior woman in the House."

Lipinski did not detail his beefs with Pelosi.

The Speaker is elected by the entire House, with each party nominating a speaker candidate, with the vote usually almost always falling on party lines. Boehner became speaker with 241 votes to 173 for Pelosi and the 19 Democrats who voted for someone else in a symbolic gesture.

Lipinski on Kaptur: I cast my vote for Marcy Kaptur, a Polish-American Democrat from Toledo, Ohio, who is the most senior woman in the House of Representatives, beginning her 15th term. During her long career in the House, Ms. Kaptur has always been a strong voice for American workers, especially those working in manufacturing in the Midwest, and like myself was a fierce opponent of the Wall Street bailout. American manufacturing workers have been hit hard in the past decade, especially during this terrible recession that we are still trying to dig our way out of. I voted for Ms. Kaptur both to honor her service in the House and to call attention to those issues that both of us continue to fight hard for in Congress - promoting American jobs and helping the forgotten hard-working middle-class Americans who continue to struggle. During her time in Congress, Marcy has also been a courageous pro-life voice, and has been very active on issues important to American relations with Central Europe, especially Poland, and to all those Americans who trace their ancestry to that region.

WASHINGTON--Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) was elected Wednesday as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 112th Congress. Boehner takes over the gavel from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Excerpts from his speech, as prepared:

"We gather here today at a time of great challenges. Nearly one in ten of our neighbors are looking for work. Health care costs are still rising for families and small businesses. Our spending has caught up with us, and our debt will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy. Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress. No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"The American people have humbled us. They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people's House. This is their Congress. It's about them, not us. What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs. A government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Our aim will be to give government back to the people. In seeking this goal, we will part with some of the rituals that have come to characterize this institution under majorities Republican and Democratic alike. We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process 'less efficient' than our forefathers intended. These misconceptions have been the basis for the rituals of modern Washington. The American people have not been well served by them."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"We will not always get it right. We will not always agree on what is right. A great deal of scar tissue has built up on both sides of the aisle. We cannot ignore that, nor should we. My belief has always been, we can disagree without being disagreeable to each other. That's why it is critical this institution operate in a manner that permits a free exchange of ideas, and resolves our honest differences through a fair debate and a fair vote. We may have different - sometimes, very different - ideas for how to go about achieving the common good, but it is our shared goal. It is why we serve."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

NOTE: Boehner's speech will take place after the election of the Speaker and will be streamed live online at the Pledge to America Facebook Page.


WASHINGTON--Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrapped up her historic tenure as Speaker of the House on Wednesday, handing over the gavel to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio.)

In her very last remarks before stepping down, Pelosi in the chamber, applauded the House for passing health care reform, fair pay legislation and repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell as she noted that she broke two glass ceilings: she was the first female speaker and the first Italian-American to hold the post.

Her last formal remarks outside the House chamber were to the Congressional Black Caucus.

Pelosi said on her last morning as speaker: "Yes, I am still Speaker of the House for a short period of time." But one of my last acts as Speaker of the House for the 111th Congress is to come and congratulate the Congressional Black Caucus of the 112th Congress in the short period of time between their swearing-in and the swearing-in of the new Congress.

"I come on behalf of all of my colleagues to not only offer congratulations but with a deep sense of gratitude for the contribution that the Congressional Black Caucus and its many friends have made to the strength of our country. And with the recognition that so much more needs to be done and the challenges that we face ahead."

WASHINGTON--Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy--the first ladies of the U.S. and France--lunch together on Monday at the White House residence while their husbands do some work. The two fashion loving women are often portrayed as clothing rivals. Bruni-Sarkozy is a former model, singer and actress.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama new chief of staff will be Tina Tchen, a Chicago lawyer who works for Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett as the White House Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Sun-Times was told on Wednesday.

My Sun-Times story on Tchen being tapped by Mrs. Obama to be her new chief of staff is here.

Jarrett told me in an interview that she suggested Tchen for the job to replace Susan Sher, who will be returning to Chicago at the end of the month, where her husband, Neil Cohen is a Cook County Circuit Court judge serving in Maywood.

Tchen has known Mrs. Obama for years and brings to the job "trust, confidence, knowing that Tina shares our philosophy about public service and why we are here and her enthusiasm and passion for the issues which Mrs. Obama cares deeply about and she will be a terrific bridge between the East and the West Wing," Jarrett told me in an interview.

Over at, Tchen blogs about her new--and old--position.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who has worked for President Obama since he was running for an Illinois Senate seat, is stepping down from the podium. But Gibbs will remain a key advisor to the Obama team from the outside. He is expected to leave in a few weeks. My story is here.

WASHINGTON--The Illinois congressional delegation has the biggest freshman class in more than a decade---five new House members and Sen. Mark Kirk will be sworn in to full terms on Wednesday. Kirk has a head start on seniority, being sworn in on Nov. 29 to fill the remaining weeks of President Obama's senate term. All are Republicans.

The group will all hold receptions on Wednesday to mark the start of their tenure, with Kirk at his Russell Senate Office Building and the others at their various new House offices: the 2011 Illiinois House "freshman five" are Bob Dold, Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger, Joe Walsh and Bobby Schilling.

Chicago Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama White House chief of staff, was asked Tuesday at a press conference about the news that William Daley, the former Commerce Secretary and brother of Mayor Richard Daley--was being considered for White House Chief of Staff.

As a presidency unfolds, Emanuel said, "there are different things you would want out of a chief-of-staff."

Here's the exchange Emanuel had with reporters, according to Chicago Sun-Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman:


Emanuel: The most thing here is what the President wants. This is outside of key members of the cabinet, the chief of staff is a key decision and the President has to make a decision where he feels that the person can give him the type of advice that‚s necessary and manage the White House and help think through the set of challenges and competing interests you have.

Bill is a friend of mine. We worked together when I was in President Clinton's White House an he was in the cabinet and he stayed and remains a good friend of mine and he's quite capable. But, the most important thing is what the President wants from a chief-of-staff. And every President is different and, during their presidency, there are different things you would want out of a chief-of-staff. That is what's important˜what the President wants and what he envisions for that job.


Emanuel: That's a fair question. But, I'm not gonna sit here today and talk about that. There will be an appropriate time. I will support whatever the President wants to do. What matters is what the President wants out of the chief-of-staff and who he is looking for in a person to fill that role.

A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel can stay on the Feb. 22 ballot. The ruling comes in the wake of a residency challenge to Emanuel. Last month, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ruled 3-0 that Emanuel was indeed a Chicago resident. Emanuel moved to Washington in 2009 to serve as President Obama's chief of staff. The main challenger, Burt Odelson, said he will appeal the decision. The case is expected to go to the Illinois Supreme Court.

from the decision: "We find the analysis presented by Respondent Candidate Emanuel to this court persuasive on the issue of whether an individual must have a 'place to sleep' to satisfy the litmus test of continued residence. Citing five Illinois Supreme Court cases, the Candidate showed persuasively that an individual's residency is not abandoned, even though that individual may not have a right to sleep in some place within the jurisdiction of his residency. Smith v. People of the State of Illinois ex.rel. Frisbie, 44 Ill. 16 (1867); Carter v. Putnam, 141 Ill. 133 (1892); Welsh v. Shumway, 232 Ill. 54 (1907); Tuthill v. Rendleman, 387 Ill. 32 (1942)."


The four major Chicago mayoral candidates debate at 7 p.m. Jan. 27; this will be the first one where front-runner Rahm Emanuel joins the group running in the Feb. 22 primary.

The debate will be hosted by the Chicago Tribune and the City Club of Chicago. Candidates at the debate will be Gery Chico, Miguel del Valle, Emanuel and Carol Moseley Braun.

Micah Materre, WGN-TV News at Nine co-anchor, and Bruce Dold, Chicago Tribune Editorial Page Editor, will moderate.

The debate is excluding other candidates because of poor showings in a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll of Chicago voters conducted Dec. 10-13, 2010.

For view plans, per a release: "The debate will be broadcast live on WGN-TV (local signal), CLTV,,, and WGN Radio (AM720) at 7 p.m. and will run for 58 minutes, commercial free."

WASHINGTON -- William Daley, the former commerce secretary and brother of Mayor Daley, may be tapped by President Obama to be chief of staff, though no final decisions have been made, several sources told the Sun-Times on Monday.

Daley is the Chicago-based JPMorgan's Midwest chairman and the bank's head of corporate responsibility, but most important in his context is his close relationship with White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod.

If Daley does become chief of staff, there is another interlocking relationship at play: He would be replacing Rahm Emanuel, who quit the post last October to run for Chicago mayor. One of Emanuel's first political jobs was as a fund-raiser for Mayor Daley. Years later William Daley and Emanuel worked closely together in the Clinton White House on the drive to win congressional approval for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Axelrod will be leaving the White House in a few weeks to return to Chicago for the 2012 Obama re-election campaign. Daley would be joining the White House as a veteran of national presidential campaigns; he was chairman of former Vice President Gore's 2000 campaign.

Bloomberg News was the first to report Daley was in play. Obama has not yet offered the job to Daley, I'm told. A main reason is that Peter Rouse, the interim chief of staff, has not yet finalized whether or not he wants to stay on the job. Rouse has been in charge of a midterm staff review and possible shake-up. While Rouse has been up in the air, Daley emerged at the top of the list to become the permanent replacement for Emanuel. Emanuel, I hear, may have played a role in suggesting Daley.

There are a few reasons Daley is seen as a top choice by the Obama White House for the job, I hear. Daley has the complete skill set: He understands how Washington works; he ran the Gore campaign; he is a former Cabinet member; he could help the Obama administration improve relations with the business community as a hostile GOP-controlled House will be sworn in Wednesday. And perhaps most important, Daley could bring the Obama team a real sense of a defined mission in a political year.

WASHINGTON--French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet with President Obama at the White House on Monday.

From the White House: "President Obama will welcome President Nicolas Sarkozy of France to the White House on Monday, January 10. As France assumes the Presidency of the G-8 and the G-20 for 2011, the President looks forward to working with President Sarkozy to sustain the global economic recovery and create jobs. The two Presidents will also discuss a broad range of current foreign policy and security issues."

WASHINGTON--Both Illinois senators have press conferences in Chicago today: President Obama signs the food safety bill today Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who has been a crusader on the cause and a chief sponsor of the legislation, discusses the measure at a presser.

Freshman Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) talks about new legislative session at his presser. Kirk gets sworn in to full six-year term on Wednesday

Gery Chico unveils jobs plan

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WASHINGTON--William Daley, the former Commerce Secretary and brother of Mayor Daley, may be tapped by President Obama to be chief of staff or to another high-level position, Bloomberg News is reporting. Daley is the Chicago based JPMorgan's Midwest chairman and the bank's head of corporate responsibility.

Bloomberg reporters Julianna Goldman and John McCormick, who have the scoop noted that Daley, who usually responds to calls and e-mails, did not reply to their questions. The White House had no comment.

Adding Daley to the Obama team--no matter what high level position--gives Obama an experienced Washington hand who brings with him a comfort factor bringing on board someone he knows. Daley would be joining the White House as Obama is ramping up for his 2012 re-election bid; Daley ran former Vice President Gore's 2000 campaign.

If indeed Daley does become chief of staff, he would be replacing Rahm Emanuel, who quit the post the run for Chicago mayor. One of Emanuel's early political jobs was worling as a fund-raiser for Mayor Daley. Emanuel and Bill Daley are close friends. Emanuel and Daley worked closely together while in the Clinton White House to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Goldman and McCormick write that Daley could address the anti-business rap pinned on the Obama White House: "As he remakes his staff for the second half of his term, the president also is seeking to address complaints from some executives that the Democratic administration is anti-business."

Chicago mayoral hopeful Gery Chico has raised more than $2.5 million, his campaign said on Monday, with Chico the first to reveal fund-raising figures for the Feb. 22 primary. Chico has 47 fund-raisers scheduled for January.

Chico said in a statement that 97 percent of his contributions come from Chicagoans--setting the stage to ding rival Rahm Emanuel for raising a lot of out-of-city cash.

"Since the day I announced my candidacy for mayor, my campaign has hustled day-in, day-out, to raise the resources and build the coalition to win this race," Chico said. "We have the best story to tell and the resources to tell it."

Chico's public schedule routinely does not include fund-raising events.

Emanuel, who has been vacationing in Thailand, is expected to have a bigger figure--but then he had a running start with some $1.5 million left over in his House campaign fund. Emanuel also has been spending the most--more than $1 million in television ads alone since he announced last fall.

Singing star Jennifer Hudson headlines a fund-raiser for Emanuel Jan. 10 at the House of Blues in Chicago. Emanuel also flew to Los Angeles for a funder hosted by his brother, Hollywood superagent Ari. Emanuel's campaign will not disclose Emanuel's smaller campaign coffees and dinners.

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) has hired a well-connected Republican fund-raiser, Lori Montgomery, among others, for her campaign. I asked Braun spokesman Renee Ferguson why a Republican was hired and she replied, "Lori is on our fund raising team along with LA Harris. Both Lori and her husband Jim go way back with Carol. Jim and Carol worked together in the U.S. Attorney's office."

Braun's team never disclosed details (yes, I asked) of a New York fund-raiser that was planned for last month. Braun criticized Emanuel's California fund-raiser. Ferguson told me that one Braun fund-raiser was hosted by business honcho Barbara Bowles. Braun's campaign will not disclose small campaign coffees and dinners.

The Feb. 22 is non-partisan. If no one wins more than 50 percent, the top two vote getters face off in an April 5 general election.

How did Rep. Danny David (D-Ill.) decide to pull out of the race for Chicago mayor? Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch has the inside report.

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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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