Obama coming to Chicago to kick off campaign

April 13, 2011 6:53:22 PM PDT
President Barack Obama is heading home to attend a series of fundraisers and to kick off his re-election bid.

From his campaign headquarters downtown to his Kenwood neighborhood, people are preparing for this quick presidential visit. Security barricades were up in his neighborhood Wednesday night.

This is the first trip back home for the president since last fall. It is one of two visits this month for the president.

He will be attending a fundraiser at Navy Pier Thursday night and will come back at the end of April with the first lady for a taping at the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Maybe it was naivete, but when the president took office, he said he would come back home every six to eight weeks. However, an economic recession, two wars, and all the unexpected demands on a president's time have kept him away from Chicago much longer than that.

This trip to Chicago, the eighth for Obama since he was inaugurated in January 2009, appears to be all about setting the bar for fundraising in a contest that may become the first billion-dollar presidential campaign.

That starts with a fundraiser at mk the restaurant, where chef owner Michael Kornick is a strong supporter of the president and serves key Obama supporters such as members of the Pritzker and Crown families. Apparently the president likes the scallops at the restaurant.

To get in will cost $35,800, the bulk of which will be turned over to the Democratic National Committee.

"The pressure to do the work that we know we can do only comes from the nerves associated with who you're serving," said Kornick.

The president will also attend a $5,000-to-$15,000-a-plate fundraiser at 9 Restaurant, where Chef Kornick is also a partner, then have a big rally at the far end of Navy Pier in the grand ballroom that will feature Chicago Bull Derrick Rose. It will cost about $100 to get in there.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in town for an early childhood education conference, said running the campaign out of Chicago is a courageous act of a proud Chicagoan. Education will play a central role in the campaign, he said, and getting that message out requires lots of money.

"We have to educate our way to a better economy, and so I think you will continue to see education being front and center in everything he does," said Duncan.

The president may stop by his campaign headquarters at One Prudential Plaza.

In Obama's Hyde Park neighborhood, extra security equipment and procedures are going back into place with the president coming home and planning to spend Thursday night.

There is a sense that there is a cost to having Barack Obama come back around

"It's probably gonna be a little trafficky here - we'll probably get a lot more news attention," said barber Kris Golden. "But we always enjoy when he's in town.

That $35,800 is a key figure you are likely to hear about during the 2012 campaign. The Democrats say the first $5,000 goes to the president's re-election bid, and $30,800 goes to the DNC, a sum that can be changed "if making the donation would result in an excessive contribution."

According to the DNC, the contribution is not tax-deductible.