(CBS) — President Barack Obama arrived at the Gary-Chicago International Airport on Air Force One Wednesday evening and is spending the night in Chicago. The president will spend Thursday at a fundraiser for Governor Quinn and a speech at Northwestern University in Evanston.

Shortly after 7 p.m. President Obama arrived on board a 757, a smaller plane than the 747 usually travels in. The president was greeted outside the plane by Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana).

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President Obama had dinner at RPM Seak in River North with Valerie Jarrett, Marty Nesbitt and others.

“He was introducing himself and he was shaking hands and enjoying the environment as he does as the president of the United States,” said RPM patron John Arnott.

The Gary-Chicago International Airport was chosen so as not to disrupt air traffic at O’Hare, which is still dealing with the after effects of the fire at the Aurora Air Traffic Control Center last Friday.

If you weren’t a politician, you didn’t get to welcome the president up close at the Gary airport, but there were plenty of Obama fans who tried to get a glimpse.

“This is history, I’ll never get a chance to be this close to Air Force One or the president again in my lifetime,” said Gary resident Dave Matthews.

Some of them say they’re going to return Thursday when the president leaves to try to see him once again.

The president’s trip back home is expected to provide a big fundraising boost for Gov. Pat Quinn. CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports President Obama will be with Governor Quinn, headlining a Near North Side brunch for high-rollers that’s expected to raise significant funds for the Quinn campaign.

But attorney Manny Sanchez, a strong supporter of President Obama, is backing Republican Bruce Rauner for governor, not Quinn.

“Pat Quinn has had a chance in the governor’s office to address some changes here, some really fundamental changes that have to be addressed and he hasn’t done it,” Sanchez said.

Despite the president’s dip in national job approval, his hometown popularity remains one of the Quinn campaign’s best tools to raise funds and spur voter turnout.

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“I’ll be proud to stand with him tomorrow and every day after,” Quinn said.

Rauner supporters are hoping Democratic voters break longtime loyalties, like Manny Sanchez did.

“Hard, fiscal decisions have to be made. I don’t see that being addressed by Pat Quinn,” Sanchez said.

The Quinn fundraiser will be hosted by the daughter of wealthy real estate investor Neil Blum.

The president will also give a speech on the economy on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston. Governor Quinn is expected to accompany the president aboard Marine One to Evanston for the speech at Cahn Auditorium. Video feeds will be set up on campus for people who can’t make it into the auditorium.

WBBM’s Bob Roberts reports you won’t find a Northwestern student who does not know about the visit. Students speaking with WBBM said that the University has been barraging students for a week with e-mails detailing the visit, who is allowed at Cahn Auditorium for the speech, other places where students can watch a live video feed, what is blocked off on and near campus for security reasons and when.

A disappointed Kandace Webb will be watching the feed.

“I know we get live viewings of him but I think we ought to be able to see him in person, too,” the freshman said.

Webb wants Mr. Obama to address the number and types of jobs he expects the economy to create over the next four years.

He could well do that. A White House spokesman told WBBM the theme of Mr. Obama’s speech will be the economic recovery and that job creation would be a part of it.

The Northwestern visit is a first one by a sitting president since President Eisenhower received an honorary law degree from the university in 1954, according to Northwestern.

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Obama received an honorary degree from the university and gave the commencement speech in 2006 when he was a U.S. senator.