CHICAGO — Wrapping up an unusually personal appeal to re-elect Gov. Pat Quinn, first lady Michelle Obama demanded —but in the way friends speak to friends — “So let’s get this done,” coming home Tuesday to lead a get-out-the-vote drive to benefit the entire Illinois Democratic ticket.
“Pat Quinn has Barack’s back and now it’s time for us to have Pat’s back,” she said at a Quinn campaign rally at the University of Illinois/Chicago Pavillion, where she nostalgically recalled to a crowd of some 5,500 how President Barack Obama started his political career on the South Side of Chicago.
Obama’s main political goal was to goad all the Illinois Democrats who came out in droves to vote for the president in 2008 and 2012 to cast a ballot in the midterm contests. Illinois Democrats gauge there are more than a million Democratic “drop-off” voters who need to be pushed.
“When we stay home, they win,” Obama said, a signature line she has been using on the 2014 political trail.
PHOTO GALLERY: Michelle Obama in Chicago
Though Obama’s focus was on Illinois Democrats — and a string of the 2014 Dem contenders spoke before she did, including a fired-up Quinn — Mrs. Obama made the November mid-term election a referendum on Obama’s policies: raising the minimum wage, marriage equality, women’s reproductive rights, immigration and Obamacare.
“Because make no mistake about it. Barack’s last campaign wasn’t in 2012; the last campaign is this year, 2014. That election in 2012 —that was not the change we sought. It was only a chance to make that change. And if you want to finish what we started … elect Pat Quinn as governor,” Obama said.
Obama’s trips back are rare. Tuesday’s stop was the second time this year she’s been in Chicago, with her prior visit in July.
There have been a lot of stories about places in the nation where the first lady and Obama won’t stump before the November contests because their presence could backfire.
Not in Chicago, an Obama oasis.
Quinn has never run from Obama. And the White House months ago made a commitment to help Quinn, who is locked in a tight race with GOP nominee Bruce Rauner in what has become an increasingly nasty and expensive contest.
Last week, President Obama headlined a fundraiser for Quinn at a Gold Coast home and raised more than $1 million for the Quinn campaign at a $50,000-a-head event. Before the UIC rally, Obama raised about $300,000 for the Quinn warchest at a $10,000 per person reception at MK restaurant,868 N. Franklin. It’s likely Obama will make another fundraising swing through Chicago before the election. In 2010, Obama presided over an outdoor turnout rally at the University of Chicago just before that midterm election.
On Wednesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate is the draw at a high-dollar fundraiser for Quinn at the Powers Rogers & Smith law firm, 70 W. Madison.
At the rally there were signs — literally — that took cues from the Obama 2008 campaign, where one of the most memorable slogans was “Fired Up and Ready to Go.” The 2014 Illinois variations of that were signs that said, “Still Fired Up. Still Ready to Go” and “Fired Up and Ready to Vote.”