Joe Biden didn’t help. David Axelrod didn’t help. David Plouffe and Jim Messina sure didn’t help. Just days after the news broke that Alexi Giannoulias raised only $900,000 this spring, despite appearances by four White House insiders, Barack Obama Himself announced he’s coming to Chicago to bail out his protégé. He’ll be headlining a fundraiser Aug. 5.
Obama can’t afford to let the kid blow this race. His own prestige is on the line. If Giannoulias blows this, Republicans will crow that Obama’s own home state is rejecting his leadership.
Giannoulias’s campaign manager, Michael Rendina, is explicitly linking the fate of his candidate to the fate of Obama’s presidency.
“The president’s visit will reinforce the importance of the clear choice Illinois voters face between Alexi, who supports helping the president move America forward, and career congressman Mark Kirk, who wants to go back to the same failed Bush policies that got us into this mess,” Rendina said.
The conservativeIllinois Review kicked off the anticipation of Obama’s visit by kicking Giannoulias in his weak spot. They headlined a blog post “Obama stumps for convicted mobster banker." Then added: “Think you'll see that headline in the Trib, Sun-Times or Washington Post? But that's exactly what will happen August 5 ... Barack Obama will be in town in early August to raise funds for his friend Alexi. The campaign had to break that news …. to sweep away the fact that ‘Kirk raised $2.3 million, Giannoulias only $900 k’ headlines that would have hit if not for the ‘Obama rides into town to save Alexi’ grabber.”
The Chicago Tribune points out that Obama’s visit will sweep away another headline: “Obama advisers testify in Blagojevich trial.”
“Obama’s visit would likely come during the defense presentation of disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial,” the Trib writes on its Clout Street blog. “Blagojevich’s defense team has said it intends to call White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and adviser Valerie Jarrett as witnesses.”
Giannoulias has been predicting an Obama visit long before he made it a fait accompli with his poor fundraising numbers.
“I have a feeling he'll be out here a few times before November,” Giannoulias told ABC News. “We’ve talked to them. They've been -- the White House has been great. They'll be out here, and we're very excited to have the full support of the White House.”
We'll see if that's enough to catch Mark Kirk. But you know what they say: God helps those who help themselves.