UPDATED 04/15/11 11:31 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – President Barack Obama headed back to Washington Friday, after a big night on the town to kick off his reelection campaign.
As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, Obama took in an estimated $2 million at fundraisers Thursday night at Navy Pier and two restaurants. With a $1 billion fundraising goal, the president has his work cut out.
But the trip has been described as not only a fundraising mission, but a morale booster.
After landing at O’Hare International Airport Thursday evening, Obama arrived at his first fundraising stop of the night by motorcade. As ordinary Chicagoans waited for a peek, some familiar face – everyone from Mayor Richard M. Daley to Mayor-elect and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan – made their way to N9NE Steakhouse, 440 W. Randolph St., where tickets went for up to $15,000.
Tickets for the next stop, MK Restaurant at 868 N. Franklin St., went for $38,900. Chef Michael Kornick owns MK, while he is a partner in N9NE.
“We’d love to say we have a friendship but mostly we’re in awe,” he told CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov.
Then it was on to Navy Pier – ticket prices $100 to $250, where Obama discussed his reelection campaign.
“The conversation in Washington is very different from the conversation around kitchen tables and office coolers,” Obama said, “and I wanted to make sure that our campaign in rooted in your hopes and rooted in your dreams. I wanted to make sure we’re putting the campaign in your hands.”
The president also offered up a gracious tribute to a Chicago friend.
“He’s become the most powerful man in Chicago – unbelievable energy, sharp elbows – who have brought Chicago new sense of hope for the future, give it up for Derrick Rose.”
Current events were not far from Obama’s mind as he addressed the crowd. WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports the president said he has no intention of compromising with Republican leaders on policies that will produce jobs, and says he rejects the notion that the nation can no longer afford to be compassionate.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bob Roberts reports
“We’ve got to reform defense spending. We’ve got to reform health care spending,” Obama said. “But we’re not going to sacrifice our fundamental commitment that we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security – the safety net for our people.”
He also defended his proposals to trim government spending, telling the crowds at Navy Pier and both restaurant appearances that he intends to present a clear option to the American people.
“Whenever you hear people say our problems are too big to solve, or we can’t bring about the changes we seek, I want you to think about all the process we’ve already made. I want you to think about all the unfinished business that lies ahead,” Obama said. “I want you to be excited.”
At the MK appearance, Obama said the Republican agenda would turn America into a nation of potholes.
Obama would end the evening in a Bulls cap, hoping to come back for NBA finals, and a second term.
Another current Bulls player – Joakim Noah – and a former player who provided a connection with the team’s glory days in the 1990s – B.J. Armstrong – were also present at the Navy Pier fundraiser.
On Friday, Obama left his home in the South Kenwood neighborhood in the late morning, then went to the InterContinental Hotel, 505 N. Michigan Ave., for an interview with the Associated Press. Finally, he flew back to Washington, D.C., on Marine One around 11:30 a.m.