Obama campaigns for Democratic candidate for his old Senate seat in IllinoisBy Mark S. Smith, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Obama urges support for Illinois Senate hopeful
CHICAGO — President Barack Obama is working to keep his old Senate seat in Democratic hands, urging a crowd of supporters in his hometown of Chicago to send State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (jeh-NOO’-lee-ehs) to Washington.
Obama called Giannoulias a competitor who can be trusted to fight for the people who elected him. Giannoulias is battling Republican Rep. Mark Kirk in a tight contest.
The president spoke at a fundraiser at the Drake Hotel. Earlier in the day he was in Maryland campaigning for Gov. Martin O’Malley.
At both events Obama pivoted quickly to a more general theme a month ahead of crucial midterm elections. He implored voters to embrace his urgency, saying the entire agenda of change he campaigned for in 2008 is at stake even without his name on the ballot.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
BOWIE, Md. (AP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday implored young voters to embrace his urgency about the upcoming congressional elections, saying the entire agenda of change he campaigned for in 2008 is at stake even without his name on the ballot.
“I’m hope you’re ready to fight,” he told thousands of backers at Bowie State University who gathered on a large, sun-splashed campus quad. “There’s an election coming up. It’s going to say a lot about the future — your future, but also the future of the country.”
The campaign event was mainly designed to give a boost to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is seeking re-election. But Obama also delivered a broader message.
Suit coat off and shirt sleeves rolled up, Obama again cast the congressional elections as a national choice, hoping to stir up voters who often pay little attention to off-year voting. Democrats are fighting to hang onto their control of House and Senate, a steep challenge given the economic times and sour public mood.
Obama was also heading to Illinois on Thursday in a scramble to help protect his old Senate seat. The Democratic candidate, Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer and a longtime Obama friend, is battling Republican Rep. Mark Kirk. That race is considered neck-and-neck.
At the Maryland rally, Obama took fresh aim at the flow of private money that is fueling attack ads across the country. Groups allied with the Republican Party have amassed a crushing advantage in television spending this election cycle, hampering efforts by Democrats to win over voters. The Republican groups appear to be benefiting from a Supreme Court ruling — one fiercely opposed by Obama — that freed big business to spend money directly to sway federal elections.
Obama said the trends masks the identity of those spending to influence elections, which he called “a threat to our democracy.”
“We’re going to need to fight their millions of dollars with millions of voices,” the president said to a cheering crowd.
In Illinois, Obama was set to appear in Chicago with Gov. Pat Quinn, who took over when Rod Blagojevich was impeached over corruption charges and trails Republican state Sen. Bill Brady in the polls.
The White House said Obama had no plans to see Rahm Emanuel, who quit as White House chief of staff last week to launch a bid to succeed Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
The two-state day trip comes as Obama ramps up his campaign travel in hopes of limiting Democratic losses in midterm elections now less than four weeks away. A key goal is closing the wide gap, according to surveys, of how excited party loyalists are.
With O’Malley at his side, Obama accused Republicans in Congress of saying no to all of his efforts and proposed legislative compromises. He said their goal is to fuel public discontent by the midterm elections in hopes of prospering in the elections. He prodded voters not to go for that strategy, instead framing a choice between Democrats seeking to rebuild the economy and Republicans who were in charge when the economy sank.
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