Mitt Romney chose a northwest suburb of Chicago Tuesday to attack President Obama on the economy and new welfare rules. The presumed Republican presidential nominee then got to work raising a couple million in campaign cash.
Prayers and jokes
Inside an Elk Grove Village factory, Romney began by asking for a moment of silence for victims of the shooting Sunday at a Sikh Temple outside Milwaukee.
"The tragedy is even more profound because the Sikh religion and the Sikh people are such peaceable, loving individuals," Romney said. "And I think it's also more tragic because the shooter was apparently someone who was motivated by hate: hate based on race, hate based on religion."
Romney delivered his speech at Acme Industries, and quickly made a crack the owner has no doubt heard before – many times before.
"I only thought that was a cartoon business on the Road Runner cartoons, right? But you actually made a lot of money, I'm sure, selling product to the coyote, is that right?" Romney said to laughter in the crowd of about 200.
After the jokes, Romney’s remarks focused on small businesses and government regulation. And he continued a dust-up with the White House over changes to work rules for welfare recipients (see NPR story on the topic).
"President Obama is simply out of ideas. He’s out of excuses. And Illinois needs to help me make sure that in November we put him out of office," Romney said on President Obama’s handling of the economy.
Battleground for donors, not votes
That “help” from Illinois is most likely to come in the form of campaign cash, as even his ardent supporters in the state don’t think Romney can win Illinois.
The former Massachusetts governor left after a 19-minute speech to collect some of those donations, during a pair of high-dollar fundraisers in the city.
Romney first hit a fundraiser at Harry Caray's restaurant on the city's Near North Side. According to a pool report, he was greeted by Dutchie Caray, the widow of late Cubs broadcaster.
"There are the glasses, the famous glasses," Romney told Dutchie Caray while looking at a display case. "Your husband – what a guy. I sure miss him."
The former Massachusetts governor then headed four blocks away to a Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant and banquet hall.
Ticket prices at the two events ranged from $5,000 to more than $70,000, according to state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who chairs Romney’s Illinois campaign. Rutherford said the day’s total topped $2 million.
Romney's visit to the state comes a few days before President Obama is slated to return to his hometown. Four fundraising events are the presidential schedule for Sunday, according to a campaign official.
These include an 850-person event at the Bridgeport Arts Center (price tag: $51 to $551, in honor of the president’s 51st birthday last week) and a fundraiser at the Obama family home in the Kenwood neighborhood (price tag: $40,000).
Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulos filed the local pool reports.