A brief, valuable trip home for President Obama
President Barack Obama was gone roughly six hours after he got here. The president's brief visit to Chicago Wednesday night included three fundraising events for his re-election campaign.
In remarks to several hundred supporters at a rally-like event at the UIC Forum, the president avoided any direct mention of his Republican challengers. He listed as accomplishments the health care bill and the end to the Iraq War. And he tried to tap into the energy from the 2008 election despite - as he described them - "three tough years."
"If you're willing to work even harder in this election than you did in that last election, I promise you change will come. If you stick with me we're going to finish what we started in 2008," Mr. Obama said to applause.
Also at the rally, the president told the crowd that he and his outgoing chief of staff, Bill Daley, enjoyed a surprise after Air Force One landed at O'Hare.
"Now, first of all, Bill and I - we got off the plane, and we said, 'Is it really 45 degrees in January?' So we were a little confused," he said. "Thought we had landed in the wrong place."
Mr. Obama went on to thank Daley for his year of service, comments that were similar to those the other day at the White House when he announced Daley's resignation - except that in this campaign setting, there was also the promise of campaign assistance.
"It is tough to resist the greatest city in the world," the president said. "And as much as I will miss him in the White House, he's going to be an extraordinary asset to our campaign. He's going to be helping us win in 2012, so I just want to say how much I appreciate him."
While in Chicago, Mr. Obama also hit up two high-priced fundraisers, and dropped by his campaign headquarters.
Leading up to - and during - the president's visit, Republican leaders publicly questioned his priorities.
“Despite the White House’s claims that President Obama isn’t in full campaign mode, three glitzy fundraisers and a closed press swing by his campaign office is proof positive that the President is putting governing the country aside to save his own job,” Illinois GOP chair Pat Brady said in a statement to reporters Wednesday evening.
UIC Forum speech excerpts
On the Bulls:
On Bill Daley and Chicago's unseasonably warm weather:
'Change' since 2008:
2012 rallying cry: