Obama in Chicago today, home for the entire weekend: Votes early

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Then-President Barack Obama (right) talks with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel after walking off Air Force One at O’Hare International Airport in 2016. Emanuel worked in the Obama White House during the battle over the Affordable Care Act. | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama landed at O’Hare Airport on Friday as he makes a rare weekend-long visit back home with Democratic fundraising on his agenda.

Obama  stopped in the Loop to cast an early vote in between two fundraising events. Obama returned to his home at 5046 S. Greenwood late in the afternoon.

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

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff and Rep. Mike Quigley D-Ill., greeted the president on the tarmac after Air Force One touched down  at 11:56 a.m. There were “several hundred cheering citizens” also on hand, according to the pool report, and Obama “worked the fence, shaking hands and smiling for a few minutes.”

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 the schedule: three fundraisers. On Friday, Obama is on the North Side for events to benefit Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and the House Democrats. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is also in Chicago today for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee luncheon.

On Sunday, Obama is on the South Side for an event to pour dollars into Tammy Duckworth’s Senate bid. This one is personal for Obama: He wants to defeat Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill., and help Duckworth win the Illinois Senate seat he won in 2004.


GalleryAlso on tap: Obama has made a display of voting early in past years when he has been in Chicago prior to an election – and he did so again on Friday, voting at a Chicago Board of Elections polling place at 69 W. Washington.

According to a pool report, “with hundreds of onlookers in the steers, Obama hurried into the Chicago Board of Elections office in the basement.

“You guys are doing a wonderful job. Appreciate ya” Obama told the approximately dozen poll workers as he filled out paperwork.

“What’s my date of birth? 8 4 81?” POTUS joked. “Nice try!” One of the workers said, to which Obama retorted he was “Shaving just a couple of decades off.”

“After locating his machine and beginning to vote, POTUS looked up at the pool and cracked, “they can’t see who I’m voting for can they?” and feigned an effort to shield the screen.

“Asked who he voted for, Obama looked up and smirked.”

Earlier speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz  kept reporters guessing about whether or not Obama would vote early. Schultz “did not confirm whether the president would vote early in person at his local precinct as he has done previously,” the pool report said.

“I do know that Illinois is a state that enjoys early vote, that’s an option that the president has availed himself of previously. so if he decides to do that on this trip, we’ll make sure you guys tag along,” Schultz said.

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.

Watch for: Obama likes to play golf on the weekends. And it’s the weekend, so it’s possible he will hit the links. He’s got Saturday open.

Folks are curious if White Sox fan Obama, who is rooting for the Cubs in the playoffs against Pelosi’s San Francisco Giants will go to Wrigley Field for either the Friday or Saturday games. Nothing official on that, yet.


The Friday lunch for the DCCC with Obama and Pelosi is at the North Side home of Fred Eychaner, one of the biggest Democratic donors in the nation. Tickets run from $66,800 per couple to $10,000 for an individual.

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

Among the Illinois Democratic officials on hand at the Eychaner home: 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 Dem nominee Kim Foxx.

Obama has long taken an interest in Duckworth’s political career, helping her when she made her first House run in 2006.

The hosts of the Sunday funder for Duckworth are Obama Foundation chair Martin Nesbitt, and his wife, physician Anita Blanchard; Theaster Gates, an artist and professor in the Department of Visual Art and Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago, who is on the Foundation design advisory committee; and Democratic activist John Atkinson and his wife, Bonnie.

The afternoon event will be at the Stony Island Arts Bank, an arts and cultural center founded by Gates, at 6760 S. Stony Island Ave, Chicago.

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. Top givers and raisers get a VIP reception and a photo.

The proceeds go to the Illinois Coordinated Victory Fund 2016, a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic Party of Illinois and Tammy for Illinois.

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