As the Republican candidates for the White House headed to South Carolina for the next primary, President Barack Obama was in his home town of Chicago to raise money and rally his campaign staff.
Obama sought to fire up his supporters by reciting a list of accomplishments, including bailing out the auto industry, revamping the U.S. health-care system, withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and launching the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
“Because of what you did in 2008, we’ve begun to see what change looks like,” Obama said at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Everything that we fought for is now at stake in this election,” he said.
Obama’s campaign trip -- one day after the New Hampshire primary -- followed a forum at the White House on “Insourcing American Jobs,” to encourage companies to locate jobs in the U.S. and not abroad.
Obama similarly chose the day after the Jan. 3 caucuses in Iowa for public events, traveling to the swing state of Ohio to announce his recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Response to Republicans
“President Obama spends the entire caucus and primary period leading up to each event being rhetorically beaten to a pulp by these Republican candidates,” said Dennis J. Goldford, professor of politics at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. “It’s certainly helpful to get yourself out there” to respond, he said.
Obama dropped by the Chicago headquarters of his re- election organization to speak to several hundred campaign workers before making the rounds seeking donations.
The event at the university was the largest of three fundraisers today. It featured singer Janelle Monae and actor Hill Harper. It was expected to draw about 500 donors including younger voters, with tickets starting at $44.
The other two fundraisers are to be hosted by media executive Fred Eychaner and Stuart Taylor, chief executive officer of the Taylor Group LLC and a former Bear Stearns & Co. executive, according to a Democratic Party official who wasn’t authorized to comment publicly.
Tickets for the more exclusive gatherings, expected to draw about 160 guests combined, range from $7,500 to $35,800 per person, the official said. Donations benefit the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. For the $35,800 tickets, a $5,000 maximum contribution would go to Obama’s re-election and $30,800 to the party committee.
Lull Between Primaries
The fundraisers and political messaging are designed to take advantage of a brief lull between Republican primaries, Goldford said. The South Carolina contest is on Jan. 21.
Obama also held a Web chat with Iowa Democrats on the night of the Iowa caucuses. Last night, after former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire Republican primary, Vice President Joe Biden spoke via videoconference with New Hampshire Democrats at 25 primary night house parties.
Obama’s campaign advisers have said they view Romney as Obama’s most likely opponent in November. Biden singled him out for criticism using the populist theme that Obama has signaled he will use in the campaign.
“He thinks it’s more important for the stockholders and the shareholders and the investors and the venture capital guys to do well, than for those employees to be part of the bargain,” Biden told supporters.
Obama, in his Chicago remarks, warned that Republican economic ideas would set the country back. “We cannot go back to this brand of ‘you’re-on-your-own’ economics,” he said.
The jobs forum at the White House gave Obama a platform to “show that he is the president, not a petty partisan political figure,” Goldford said.
As for the fundraisers, he said that “any time is a good time to raise money,” particularly now when supporters “can actually feel they’re doing something to counteract” the attacks on Obama.
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