In Chicago, a warm homecoming for unpopular Obama
CHICAGO (AP) — They say you can never truly go home again, but for Barack Obama, perhaps the old adage doesn’t apply.
Across the country, far more Americans say they disapprove of the president than approve. He’s so politically toxic that Democratic candidates in tough races are practically begging Obama to stay away.
But this is Chicago, where support for the town’s favorite son still runs high. Just ask the throngs of Chicagoans who craned their necks and shouted cheers in Obama’s direction during his brief trip home.
Obama arrived here late Sunday and headed straight to an evening campaign rally for Illinois’ Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. After a night’s sleep, he hit the town for a day of campaign-themed events aimed at turning out the Democratic vote before an evening flight back to Washington.
A look at how Obama spent his day in Chicago:
HOME SWEET HOME
There’s nothing like waking up in your own bed. And since he’s traveling stag, Obama had the house to himself - save for a few dozen Secret Service agents, of course, who lock down the streets around the Obamas’ South Side home whenever the president comes to town.
How Obama spent his Monday morning is anyone’s guess. While the president often heads out for a morning workout at a nearby gym when he’s in Chicago, this time he didn’t emerge until after 11 a.m.
VOTE EARLY - AND OFTEN
Obama wants Democrats across the country to vote early this year, hoping to boost turnout in a midterm year when Democrats historically tend not to vote. So Obama put his money where his mouth is, strolling in to a polling place near his house on the first day of early voting in Illinois.
“Barack Obama?” asked the poll worker at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center. Good guess.
“That’s me!” the president replied.
Volunteers making phone calls for Quinn got a pep talk from the president - and a less-than-healthy snack.
Making a surprise appearance at one of Quinn’s campaign field offices, Obama brought three cartons of doughnuts, the oil from the pastries seeping through the white boxes.
But would the first lady approve?
“Michelle sent these,” Obama quipped, playing off his wife’s childhood nutrition campaign. “We got broccoli, carrots.”
Obama seemed in his element as he worked the room and chatted with volunteers - some of whom had worked on his own 2008 campaign.
“Nothing like campaign fever going on,” Obama said.
OUT OF SIGHT, BUT NOT OUT OF MIND
Just after noon, Obama was back home for a quiet afternoon out of the spotlight. Aides said he was being briefed by phone on the government’s Ebola response by his homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco. Obama was also calling in to African American radio stations - another move aimed at getting out the vote.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Before heading back to the White House Monday night, Obama stopped at a supporter’s home to raise money for the Democratic National Committee. The price to attend? $10,000 a pop.
At a lavish home in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Obama said it was good to be home — if only to clear out the junk mail and old newspapers he left on his desk when he moved into the White House in early 2009.
“It’s a little like being in a time capsule,” he said.
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