"I don't know how the exact numbers will work out, but we could be in record territory for any Republican candidate for president in Illinois, in terms of a single fundraising event," said Bill Strong, McCain's Illinois finance chairman, before the event.
McCain and running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin visited Missouri Monday before he moved on to Chicago alone, savoring a post-convention bounce that is giving him a lead in the polls over Democratic presidential nominee Ill. Sen. Barack Obama for the first time in weeks.
"Good energy even without her, miraculous energy as we've witnessed in St. Paul with her, but very good energy tonight even without her," said Dr. Steven Sauerberg, (R) U.S. Senate candidate.
"Sarah Palin brings a great advancement to the ticket right now. I'm excited about her," said Karen Spillers, McCain-Palin supporter.
Local Obama supporters demonstrated outside the fundraiser Monday night against the claim by McCain and Palin that they're the real reformers, the change agents, not Obama.
"There's one person talking about change, now everybody's talking about change. The question is, are we going to get real change, or small change, chump change?" said William McNary, Obama supporter.
Obama made the same point in his Monday night appearance on MSNBC.
"This argument John McCain and Sarah Palin are making that they're agents of change, just won't fly. It defies their history and their background," said Obama. "They're not telling the truth."
"John is his own man. He's been very independent. There's been a number of times where he's irritated the Republican Party, which I view as a positive. So we need someone who's going to reach across the aisle and get things done," Strong said.
McCain was up by four points in a new USA Today-Gallup poll and by ten points among likely voters, one point up in the latest ABC-Washington Post poll and tied 48-48 in a CNN poll.
"There's momentum behind the campaign, a very successful convention. And governor Palin has injected more enthusiasm into the campaign. When a fundraiser like me gets incoming telephone calls, it has got to be a good thing," Strong said.
"We've got a clear choice of more of the same and bringing about the change that you need. I hope you choose change," said Obama, delivering a retooled and sharpened stump speech Monday in Michigan, where he ridiculed McCain and Palin for calling themselves candidates who represent change.
The campaigns also exchanged TV ads about McCain's claim that he and his running mate are "mavericks."