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Obama Returns to Campaign Trail



    Air Force One Departs from O'Hare

    President Obama was in Chicago for just a few hours, campaigning and attending fundraisers for state Democrats, primarily Alexi Giannoulias. (Published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010)

    President Barack Obama was in town Thursday helping few Illinois Democrats running for statewide and national offices.

    Speaking at the Drake Hotel at the first of two fundraisers, Obama called Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias his friend and "the next Senator from the great state of Illinois."

    "Alexi's my friend.  I know his character.  I know how much he loves this country.  I know how committed he is to public service.  He has been a great advocate for the people of Illinois, and he's in this for the right reasons," the president told the crowd of roughly 400 people.

    Giannoulias, of course, is hoping to follow the president in his senatorial footsteps, and his remarks echoed the president's theme on the significance of the Nov. 2 election: will we go back or leap forward?

    Present at the Drake Hotel fundraiser, to which contributors paid $500 to $2,400 to attend, were several Illinois Democrats, including Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Roland Burris, Rep. Danny Davis, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Comptroller Dan Hynes, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, state Sen. James Meeks and Sheila Simon, who is running as Gov. Pat Quinn's running mate.

    Afterward, Obama attended a private, $15,000-per-plate dinner with a group of Chicago socialites. 

    Proceeds from Thursday's dual events are expected to total roughly $750,000.  They'll be split evenly between the Giannoulias campaign and the Democratic Governors Association.

    Obama visit to Chicago was a brief one, lasting just about four hours.  Air Force One depart from O'Hare International Airport shortly before 9 p.m., bound for Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility.

    On hand to greet the Commander in Chief at O'Hare earlier in the day were Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley and Democratic congressional candidate Dan Seals.

    Nowhere to be seen during Obama's visit was his former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, who took the day off from his as-yet-unofficial campaign for mayor of Chicago.