President Obama departs Chicago

April 15, 2011 9:49:23 AM PDT
President Barack Obama took a chopper from downtown Chicago to O'Hare International Airport late Friday morning to head back to Washington, D.C.

The president got on Air Force One around 11:30 a.m., waving to cameras as he entered the plane.

On Thursday night, President Obama ended his night in Chicago at Navy Pier. More than 2,300 people packed the Grand Ballroom, paying $100 a ticket to hear and see the president. While he will lead the country from the White House, Chicago will be the center of his re-election campaign, something that hasn't been done by a sitting president in many decades.

"Some of you may have heard, this is where we're going to be basing our headquarters for the 2012 campaign," Obama told the Navy Pier crowd.

Earlier, the president made stops at the restaurants MK in River North and N9NE in the West Loop. More than 225 people at the two restaurants paid as much as $35,800 to have dinner with the president.

"This is a country that has given so much to us. We can afford to do a little bit more to make sure that every child in this country has opportunities and every senior is looked after. That's something that we can do. That's our vision for America," Obama said.

Obama woke up in his Chicago home Friday morning after kicking off his 2012 re-election campaign Thursday night. Chicago police and security detail sat outside of the president's home all morning.

Sharon Baxter was at one of Obama's favorite breakfast spots, Valois, in Hyde Park Friday morning. She was eating one of the president's favorite items on the menu, 2 eggs, bacon and pancakes.

"I think it's wonderful. Everyone gets excited. We actually stood around in our back yard last summer. We actually saw them fly over, and then we rushed downtown, and we saw the motorcade," said Baxter.

Baxter, her sister and other customers had been hoping to see the president stop by.

"Be pretty cool to see him, and I was hoping he might, because I heard he was in town and saw the helicopter yesterday," Conor McNamara said.

Around 8:30 a.m. Friday the president's motorcade started to assemble in front of his home.

"I think we found a lucky spot, but it's very cool," one onlooker said.

Republicans, who will not have a presidential nominee for another 16 months, say they aren't worried about the incumbent's campaign head start.

"That's not going to be enough to save a presidency that hasn't delivered as it has promised," said Lee Roupas, Cook County Republican chairman.

The Democratic Party raised $2 million Thursday night between all three events.