President Obama makes his first political visit to Illinois for the 2010 cycle on Aug. 5, when he'll headline fundraisers in Chicago to benefit Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, running for Obama's old seat, and the Democratic National Committee.
Giannoulias sorely needs the help. The Illinois state treasurer raised only about $900,000 in the quarter ending June 30, while GOP rival Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) hauled in $2.3 million. Giannoulias has about $1 million on hand compared to $3.9 million for Kirk.
The Giannoulias camp struggled with donors during the first half of the year in part because of the failure of the candidate's family-owned Broadway Bank, which Kirk turned into one of his major campaign issues. Another potential reason for less cash raised: Giannoulias is not taking donations from federal lobbyists or corporate political action committees.
That in turn sparked talk of whether the Obama White House wanted to distance itself from the Illinois Democrat -- talk that quieted down once a stream of Obama team members started arriving in Chicago.
Vice President Biden hosted a small fundraiser for Giannoulias in June and will return to Chicago in a few months; former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina have all been to Chicago to boost Giannoulias. Senior White House adviser David Axelrod will be there on July 25 for Giannoulias, who became friends with Obama over basketball.
Kirk was hit at the end of May with stories about embellishing his military record, but still came out way ahead with campaign cash.
Within minutes of the Giannoulias campaign announcing the Obama visit, Republicans went on the attack. Ryan Tronovitch, Republican National Committee spokesman said, "President Obama's hypocrisy is stunning -- one minute you hear him attacking the 'fat cat bankers' and the next he is raising money for a mob banker in Illinois. As someone who promotes transparency and openness on a daily basis, President Obama should be condemning Mr. Giannoulias for his risky actions and associations, not raising money to support his campaign for U.S. Senate."
Giannoulias campaign manager Mike Rendina said, "We're excited to welcome President Obama back to Illinois to campaign with Alexi in early August. The president's visit will reinforce the importance of the clear choice Illinois voters face between Alexi, who supports helping the president move America forward, and career Congressman Mark Kirk, who wants to go back to the same failed Bush policies that got us into this mess."
Visits back to Chicago are rare for Obama. His family has only been back to their South Side home twice since moving into the White House, with the last trip taking place over the Memorial Day weekend.
Tagged: alexi giannoulias
, David Axelrod
, david plouffe
, joe biden
, Rep. Mark Kirk