No politics during Obamas' Chicago stay? Not likely

May 28, 2010 (CHICAGO)

There is not supposed to be any politics going on while the first family is in Chicago, but in the president's home state in the fight for his old Senate seat, there is no such thing.

"He's a Chicago guy who wanted to come home and spend a weekend away from the craziness that is Washington, D.C.," said Alexi Giannoulias, (D) U.S. Senate Nominee.

Giannoulias credits his 2006 election as Illinois treasurer to then-Senator Barack Obama's endorsement.

Now in a tight race with North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk for Obama's old Senate seat, Giannoulias needs the president's help again.

"If we're serious about turning this economy around, and reducing our exploding deficits and debt, then we need to get someone in there who's going to help move things forward," said Giannoulias.

The Democrat's campaign strategists say they have put the failure of the Giannoulias family-owned Broadway Bank behind them. They cite recent internal polls showing a dead heat in the Senate race, adding that in the past week, the White House has promised political and fundraising support next month. They aren't worried, they say, that the president still has not scheduled any specific trips on behalf of their candidate.

"I think in the fall, the White House has made it clear that's when the President is gonna really start to engage for people who are not incumbents," said Pete Giangreco, Giannoulias campaign strategist.

Thursday, the house speaker and state party chairman Michael Madigan affirmed his support, saying he expects Giannoulias to run an aggressive statewide campaign.

"I'm gonna work for all the Democrats, and I'm gonna work as hard for the Democrats as I always work," Madigan said.

A Kirk spokesman had no comment on the Giannoulias claim on White House support. He said the congressman was in Washington Friday but does have a schedule of public events in Illinois this Memorial Day weekend.

Giannoulias says the campaign's focus has shifted to Kirk's record during a decade in Congress.

"Voters are understanding and realizing why we can't afford to have a Washington, D.C., insider like Mark Kirk in the U.S. Senate," said Giannoulias.

The president's only scheduled public appearance this weekend is on Memorial Day at the Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood. He has not invited the state's constitutional officers, the governor, the secretary of state, the treasurer, and so forth, but if they are invited, expect Treasurer Giannoulias to be one of the first in line.

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