Sweet: Obama raises money, casts ballot on busy trip to Chicago

SHARE Sweet: Obama raises money, casts ballot on busy trip to Chicago

President Obama casts his vote for the upcoming presidential election at the Chicago Board of Elections, 69 West Washington Street, on Friday. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama capped Friday in Chicago with stops at two chic eateries, Swift and Son and Sepia, to talk with friends and potential donors about the Obama Center he will build on the South Side after he leaves office.

Obama landed in Chicago on Friday and plowed through the day: he headlined two high-dollar fundraisers on the North Side and in-between them he surprised voters and poll workers when he stopped at 69 W. Washington to cast an early ballot.

“Ok, let’s do this,” he said, picking up a stylus as he stood behind a blue Chicago Board of Election booth to cast a vote for his successor.

It’s a rare visit back to 5046 S. Greenwood for Obama, who will remain in Chicago through Sunday.

First lady Michelle Obama is not with him because, Obama said at a fundraiser, she is on a “girls weekend” at Camp David.

While Obama is raising millions of dollars for Hillary Clinton, Senate contender Tammy Duckworth and House Democrats in the three fundraisers he is headlining in the city, he has not directly been seeking cash for his Obama Center, to be built in Jackson Park. Rather, he has been prospecting.

When Obama was at the West Loop Swift and Sons, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement, “The President is having dinner with friends and supporters to continue his conversations regarding future plans for his Foundation, including the library and programming.”

Just before that, Obama stopped at Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson St., where Schultz said he was also meeting with “friends and supporters” on future plans for his Obama Foundation “as it gets up and running.”

The Friday lunch for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the House Democratic political shop) featured Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the North Side home of Fred Eychaner, one of the biggest Democratic donors in the nation. Tickets ran from $66,800 per couple to $10,000 for an individual.

“I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Trump,” Obama said at the Eychaner event, hours before the Trump candidacy was hit with the bombshell surfacing of a 2005 tape with Trump’s lewd remarks about women.

“Now, I’m confident that we will have an incredibly capable Democratic successor in the White House by the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Obama said.

“And when I say I’m confident, I’m not overconfident. (Laughter.) So we’ve still got a lot of work to do and nobody knows that more than she does. But even if we’re able to maintain the White House, the ability of Hillary to build on the legacy that we’ve established these past eight years is going to depend on, ultimately, what happens in the House, as well as our ability to take back the Senate.”

Among the Illinois Democratic officials on hand at the Eychaner home – with most getting shout-outs from the president — were Sen. Dick Durbin and Reps. Robin Kelly, Bill Foster, Jan Schakowsky and Cheri Bustos, plus two contenders: former Rep. Brad Schneider, in a bid to reclaim his old seat, and Raja Krishnamoorthi as well as Cook County States Attorney Democratic nominee Kim Foxx.

The fundraiser to help Clinton, described in the invitation as an “intimate roundtable,” was at the home of J.B Pritzker, a top Clinton campaign finance team member and his wife, M.K. Contribution price: $33,400.

That event was closed to the press.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff and Rep. Mike Quigley D-Ill., greeted the president on the tarmac at O’Hare Airport after Air Force One touched down at 11:56 a.m.

Obama, Emanuel and Quigley then helicoptered on Marine One to Soldier Field. Emanuel and Quigley headed to their vehicles as Obama headed to his first Chicago stop of the day.

On Sunday, Obama headlines an afternoon fundraiser for Duckworth at the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave.

The price tiers start at $1,000 for an individual donation to $12,700 in a pledged contribution or a promise to raise that much from other people.

As for helping Duckworth, Schultz said: “This isn’t just another seat in Congress for the president. This is his own Senate seat. So this is one that’s important to him, and I think you’ll hear more about that on Sunday.”

“We’re getting to that get out the vote time of campaigns especially in a state like Illinois with early vote. You’ll hear more about this from the president. He does have deep views about this particular campaign,” Schultz said.

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