Tales from the Trail

Back at home, President Obama, family attend wedding

President Barack Obama got a brief respite from the euro zone debt crisis and an intensifying general election campaign on Saturday while attending the wedding of a top aide’s daughter with his family in his hometown.

The wedding of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett’s daughter, Laura, on a balmy night brought Obama administration allies and friends to Jarrett’s home in a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

Laura Jarrett was to marry fellow Harvard Law School graduate Tony Balkissoon, according to local news reports.

Notable guests included Attorney General Eric Holder; Ariel Investments chief executive and big-dollar Obama fundraiser John Rogers, Jr.; and business executive and civil rights activist Vernon Jordan, an adviser to former President Bill Clinton.

Obama and his family strolled to the wedding from their own home a few houses away. The president wore a light brown suit, first lady Michelle Obama was dressed in a cream-colored skirt, and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, wore green and yellow dresses, respectively.

Romney hits Obama’s economic vision in Democrat’s hometown

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney told supporters at a swanky fundraiser in President Barack Obama’s hometown on Thursday evening that under his administration they would see an “extraordinary resurgence of America’s economy” because of the former private equity executive’s economic prescription of less taxation, regulation, and government meddling.

The fundraising event in Chicago raised roughly $3.3 million for the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign and wider Republicans and came on the heels of speeches Romney and Obama gave hours before in different parts of the battleground state of Ohio outlining disparate visions for the economy.

“Our economy is propelled by freedom,” Romney said, speaking before roughly 220 people at a reception in a downtown Chicago hotel. “[Obama] believes a government can do a better job guiding lives and guiding the economy than can free people.”

Michelle Obama joins stump on behalf of Democratic hopefuls

michelle_2010First Lady Michelle Obama shook off the rust and hit the campaign trail – at least the campaign fundraising circuit – ahead of the November midterm elections.

Praising her husband’s accomplishments in just a year-and-a-half in office, she urged supporters to “have his back” by getting out the vote for fellow Democrats so he can pursue promised change with a friendly Congress.

Republicans are expected to make inroads in the November mid-term election.

“This is my first day out on the campaign trail. In fact, I haven’t been on the trail since a little campaign a couple of years ago,” Obama told a well-heeled crowd attending a $750-a-plate fundraiser for U.S. Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias.

Chicago River is plenty clean, Mayor Daley says

Chicago river photo2Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Upset that the federal government instructed Chicago to clean up its namesake river to make the water swimmable, Mayor Richard Daley suggested Washington attend to the Potomac River and leave him alone.

“Go swim in the Potomac,” Daley told reporters when asked about the letter from the Environmental Protection Agency addressing the condition of the Chicago River. “We’re trying to make this river every day more cleanable.”

The mayor was just warming up.

“They send letters all the time. They should get down to BP and start saving the people down in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama — all their lives and their livelihood — instead of sending us letters,” Daley said.

Washington blizzard finally gets respect from ‘flinty’ Obama

President Barack Obama, who famously chided Washington for not being “flinty” enough in dealing with snow compared with his hometown Chicago, isn’t scoffing any more as a winter storm threatens to dump up to 30 inches on the U.S. capital this weekend.

WEATHER-USA/SNOW“I think even a transplanted Hawaiian to Chicago has sufficient respect for a forecast of nearly two feet of snow,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters as snowflakes fluttered against the window of his West Wing office.

Midwesterners like Obama like to brag how tough they are in winter weather compared with their East Coast brethren. That said, Gibbs noted the president was not going to have to shovel the White House’s many paths, although he allowed that the Obama daughters Sasha and Malia  might well play in the drifts or get out the First Family’s sled.

Want to be Obama’s neighbor? House in Chicago for sale

obama-familyCHICAGO – Be President Barack Obama’s neighbor for a cool $1.85 million. 

The 17-room, 6,000 square foot (557 sq metres) brick house for sale adjacent to Obama’s Chicago home needs work to update the kitchen and bathrooms, but there is no need to worry about break-ins, the seller says. 

“It’s definitely got phenomenal security. A whole team of Secret Service agents is posted 20 feet (6 metres) away” night and day, real estate agent Matt Garrison said.

Obama Olympics Ouch!

So. What happened?

President Barack Obama dashed overnight to Copenhagen, waved the flag, praised everyone in sight, and came home with Nothing, Nada, Naught, Zero, Zip, Zilch (couldn’t find the Danish word or would have thrown that in too).

OLYMPICS-VOTE/CHICAGOThe Olympics Oracle, after much fumbling with the envelope, read the winner and Rio de Janeiro scooped up the 2016 Summer Games.

Chicago — the hometown for Obama, his wife, and close advisers like David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel — was left out in the cold, not even making it to the T2 (Top Two).

The First Draft: Sex scandal and the Olympics

They’re not linked, but the stories that topped the news shows this morning had to do with sex and with the Olympics.

Late-night comedian David Letterman made an unusual LEISURE EMMYconfession on his show last night: he was the victim of a $2 million extortion plot by a man who threatened to write a screenplay about Letterman having afffairs with female employees.

The talk show host quoted a blackmail note as saying: “I know that you do some terrible, terrible things and I can prove that you do these terrible things.”

The First Draft: Iran …and the Olympics

When President Barack Obama was running for president, he was heavily criticized by his rivals — including his current secretary of state, Hillary Clinton — for saying he would be willing to sit down with the leaders of countries like Iran.NUCLEAR-IRAN/

Well, today is the day the United States takes part for the first time as a “full participant” in talks between Iran and six world powers to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program.

Obama is not participating but he will likely be closely following results of the one-day talks in Geneva. U.S. officials have said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns — the head of the American delegation — would not actively seek a one-on-one meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator but would not reject one if the opportunity arose.

The First Draft: Obama’s next diplomatic challenge: Olympics victory

If you think President Barack Obama has it tough negotiating with the G20 over the global economy and Iran over its nuclear program, take a look at his next international diplomatic challenge:

OBAMA/OLYMPICSGoing head-to-head with the International Olympic Committee over the venue for the 2016 Summer Games.

Obama thinks it ought to be held in his hometown of Chicago.

He’s so sold on the idea that he’s flying to Copenhagen Friday to put in a personal appearance at a meeting of the IOC — the first time a sitting U.S. president has done so.