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CHICAGO (CBS) — President Barack Obama has returned to Washington, D.C., on his 50th birthday, after a star-studded fundraiser at the Aragon Ballroom in the Uptown neighborhood.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, this was President Obama’s first trip outside Washington in more than a month because of the debt ceiling crisis.
He had to cancel 10 events this summer, which kept him from raising money for his 2012 reelection bid. The Obama 2012 campaign raised $86 million in the spring quarter, but is well behind its goals for the summer.
“It doesn’t matter how tough a week I have in Washington, because I know you’ve got my back when I come to Chicago,” Obama said. “When I travel across the country, I know we can’t be stopped.”
His presence resonated with supporters.
“It was fantastic,” a man said. “I love the way Obama reaches out to everyone; I feel like he just has a way to really connect with the people.”
In front of a crowd of about 2,400 people, President Obama didn’t hold back any shout-outs to his friends and political allies, among them his former chief of staff, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“I don’t know too many people who love the city of Chicago more than your mayor and I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Obama said.
There was also his former mentor in the Illinois State Senate, former Senate President Emil Jones.
“He will win big, may carry all 50 states next time,” Jones said. “It’s not his fault that the economy … the people know that the previous president left the country in a mess.”
Even the president himself, who got the campaign fundraising boost he needed the most in just one night, was honest with supporters before he left.
“We knew the road ahead was going to be difficult, but the climb was going to be steep,” he said. “I have to admit, I didn’t know how steep the climb was going to be.”
Some Republicans ripped Obama’s fundraisers at a time of high unemployment, among them Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady.
“He said three years ago if he couldn’t get the economy turned around in three years, which is today, he’d be a one-term president,” Brady said. “He hasn’t turned the economy around, and so I think his policies have been a failure.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also jumped in, by saying the first job the president is interested in saving is his own. Republicans are calling him the “campaigner in chief.”