CHICAGO: Returning to the town that launched his political career, President Barack Obama gave a boost Wednesday to Democrats chasing control of the House, telling donors he’s still seeking compromise with Republicans — but if that fails, it’s up to Democrats to finish the job.
Joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his former chief of staff, for a reception at a glitzy hotel in downtown Chicago, Obama said he said he is looking for Republicans in the House majority “for whom compromise is not a dirty word.” But he said, the best way to work around GOP obstructionism “is to have a Democratic House of Representatives.”
Declaring that “we know the answers to so many of our challenges,” Obama ticked through a list of priorities on Democrats’ wish list that, as of yet, have gained little traction. He urged more investments in infrastructure projects, plugged his proposal to dramatically expand access to pre-kindergarten and made the case for expanding background checks for gun sales — an effort that stalled in Congress despite what Obama claimed was overwhelming support from the public.
About 150 supporters, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, attended the reception, where tickets prices started at $1,000 per person. But the big bucks awaited Obama and his party at the home of two longtime supporters, where dinner tickets started at $10,000 and went up to $32,400 — the legal maximum.
All told, Obama’s events Wednesday were likely to bring in almost $1 million, at a minimum, for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
‘We’ve got a great chance of taking back the House,” Obama said. “I’m going to be working tirelessly, wherever I get the opportunity, to make the case to the American people that our ideas are the right ones to broaden the middle class.”
Obama even lent his singing voice to the cause, leading a chorus of Happy Birthday for Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the campaign committee.
Obama’s trip to Chicago continued what has been a busy season of travel and fundraising for the president, making good on his vow to put his popularity and political might behind Democratic efforts to regain control of the House in 2014 and keep the Senate. Democrats need to gain 17 seats to recapture control of the House next year. It’s an ambitious goal, Democrats acknowledge, considering the president’s party typically loses seats during the sixth year in office.