‘O’ on the go: Running in real time with President Barack Obama in Chicago on Wednesday.
◆ About 4 p.m.: Gov. Pat Quinn, leaving behind his omnipresent sidekick “Betsy the briefcase,” to greet Obama on the tarmac at O’Hare International Airport — and then helicopter with him to a parking lot near Chicago’s Soldier Field via Marine One.
◆ 4:10 p.m.: Quinn and Obama discussed the White Sox; compared notes on the minimum wage and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s Voting Rights Amendment designed to protect voters from suppression tactics in Illinois. Sneed is told POTUS knew the winning Sox score from Monday before Quinn had time to tell him.
◆ 4:30 p.m.: Former top Obama advisers David Axelrod and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were warming up the donor audience, which included Joan Harris, John Rogers Jr., Bob Clifford and top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, before the president’s arrival. Shortly after Obama arrives, Emanuel excuses himself from a planned private dinner with POTUS to “go about the task of city business and things I am dealing with,” according to a Sneed source. Sneed hears it involved Emanuel’s city pension plan, which stalled in the Illinois House on Wednesday.
◆ 4:45 p.m.: Obama, carrying an unmarked paper coffee cup, arrived at Chicago Cut Steakhouse, where the windows had been blacked out and cellphones removed from the group of 20 Democratic National Committee donors paying $32,400 to chat round robin-style with POTUS at a large square table.
◆ Foodnote No. 1: Appetizers served during the event were tuna tartare with Sriracha mayo, shrimp cocktail and shaved New York Strip steak with horseradish cream sauce. Only American wines were served: Kistler Chardonnay Les Noisetiers 2012, Kosta Browne Koplen Vineyard 2010 and Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace 2002.
◆ Footnote No. 1: Obama’s talking points included: His love for Pope Francis and how much he reminded him of the goodness of the late Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin; how today’s media is so hungry for immediate news, it leaves little time for the preparation of a government game plan; how superior we are to Russia and how no one wants to emigrate there; how he misses the sound of L trains in Chicago, which makes him feel homesick.
◆ Footnote No. 2: In the midst of the donor briefing, Obama was handed a note informing him of details of the shooting spree at Fort Hood Army base, where four people, including the gunman were killed and 14 were injured.
“He got very quiet while reading the note and said nothing about it later,” a donor told Sneed. “Our cellphones were gone, so we only learned about the shootings when we got our phones back via news bulletins.”
◆ 5:45 p.m.: Obama later spoke about the shootings after being briefed by his staff.
◆ 5:55 p.m.: Obama had photos taken with randomly selected longtime police officers and firefighters.
◆ 6:00 p.m.: The president dined in a private dining room with Axelrod, Jarrett and other undisclosed guests, all of whom decided to eat steak — and not fish — cooked under the supervision of a naval steward. All had green beans and hash browns. Only water was served.
◆ 7:05 p.m.: Obama departs to head to a second fundraiser in Lincoln Park.
“It was an honor to serve the president,” said Chicago Cut owner David Flom. “But the remarkable thing was how well the president’s team worked in the midst of a crisis.”