Obama tells Democrats in Maryland, Chicago he wants them just as fired up as they were in 2008

By Mark S. Smith, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Obama fires up Dems in Maryland, Chicago

CHICAGO — President Barack Obama on Thursday fought to keep his old Senate seat in Democratic hands as he implored voters to embrace his urgency about the upcoming congressional elections. He said the entire agenda of change he campaigned for in 2008 is at stake even without his name on the ballot.

“It’s up to you to defy the conventional wisdom once again,” the president told enthusiastic supporters at the Drake Hotel in his Chicago hometown as he raised money for Democratic Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias, who’s running for the president’s old seat.

“It’s up to you to show the pundits that you love this country too much to let it fall backwards,” the president said.

Giannoulias, the state treasurer and a longtime Obama friend, is battling Republican Rep. Mark Kirk in a race that is considered neck-and-neck.

The president was raising $750,000 for the Giannoulias campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at a reception and dinner.

Earlier, Obama rallied a crowd of young voters at Bowie State University at an event designed to give a boost to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is seeking re-election as Maryland’s governor.

At both events Obama also delivered a broader message, casting the congressional elections as a national choice as he aimed 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.

“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.”

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 trend 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, 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 president did make a joking reference to his former chief of staff before launching into his remarks at the Giannoulias event, asking the hometown crowd: “By the way, have you seen of my chief of staff?”

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.

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