Tales from the Trail

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.”

Supporters spent $2,500 for the general reception, $10,000 to get a photo with Romney, and $50,000 for a private reception and dinner. Two-hundred and fifty tickets were sold, all in. In attendance was Dan Rutherford, the Illinois State Treasurer, and Illinois lawmakers Judy Biggert and Aaron Schock, as well as Pat Brady, the Illinois Republican Party Chairman.

“I am absolutely convinced that you are going to see an extraordinary resurgence of America’s economy. It’s going to come roaring back with the right policy,” said Romney, who has seen a lift in national polls and has been emboldened by weak economic data and an Obama gaffe giving the private sector a clean bill of health.

Obama tells critics to “grab a mop”

President Barack Obama fired back on Tuesday at conservative critics who say he has not accomplished enough in his first nine months in office.

He told them they should “grab a mop” to help him clean up the mess he inherited from Republican President George W. Bush. obama1

Many Republican critics say the continued sluggishness in the economy and the rise in the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent were a sign that Obama policies on the economy were not effective.

Even Barack Obama can’t tame the Boss

Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel teamed up for the first time on Thursday night for a concert to raise money for the Democrats’ presidential campaign — and kept the Illinois senator waiting in the wings for nearly an hour as they plowed through their songbooks for a happy crowd of donors.
The marathon 3-hour show for nearly 2,000 fans at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, where tickets started at $500 and ran to $10,000, included backup help for Springsteen and Joel from Springsteen’s wife Patti Scialfa, singers John Legend and India Arie and Joel’s band.
The two aging rockers traded songs through the night, and by the time presidential contender Barack Obama bruce.jpgarrived for a speech that was supposed to close the concert the pair was just getting warmed up.
Springsteen sprawled across Joel’s piano for “Spirit in the Night,” calling out the chord changes to Joel as he went along. Joel played “New York State of Mind” and “Allentown” — his version, not Springsteen’s.
“The Piano Man is gonna become the Guitar Man now — anything can happen,” Springsteen said when Joel grabbed a guitar as they kicked off “Glory Days.”
Springsteen dedicated “Born to Run” to Obama before clambering up and making a closing leap from Joel’s piano — and rushing back to dramatically clean the scuff marks off it.
John Legend and India Arie were featured on the closing version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” before Obama arrived to declare it “a magical evening.”
“Sorry, Bruce and Billy, but I grew up with you all. They are musical icons,” he said, as Springsteen, Joel and the other musicians huddled in the corner of the stage to listen.  “They are the finest musicians of our generation,” he said. “They can tell stories about our lives that resonate in ways a speech won’t do.”
As he had all day, Obama warned the crowd against overconfidence heading into the Nov. 4 election. “Don’t underestimate the capacity of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” he said. “Don’t underestimate our ability to screw it up.”
With that, Obama reprised his own greatest hit — his story, rarely heard these days, which ends with him leading the crowd in chants of “Fired Up! Ready to Go!”
He was then joined on stage by his wife Michelle, and the couple danced and clapped along to Springsteen and Joel’s version of the song that now closes Obama rallies — Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Allen Frederickson (file photo of Springsteen performing in Wisconsin in January 2008)

Gores host post-debate fundraiser for Obama

obamas.jpgNASHVILLE, Tenn. - Democrat Barack Obama wasn’t quite ready to call it a night after his debate on Tuesday night with Republican John McCain.

Obama stopped by the home Al and Tipper Gore in Belle Meade, just outside of Nashville, where the former vice president and his wife were holding a fundraiser on his behalf.

The soiree raised more than $900,000 for Obama’s campaign coffers.

Gore said he didn’t want to take anything for granted but introduced Obama as the “next president of the United States.”

Financial gloom doesn’t halt glitzy Obama fundraiser

So what does Barack Obama do after a hard day of defending the common man during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression?
Throw a $28,500-a-head fundraising dinner, of course.
Followed by a $2,500-a-head reception featuring Barbra Streisand singing a song or two.

The Democratic presidential candidate spent the day Tuesday campaigning in Colorado, where he talked to supporters about the mortgage crisis that has reshaped Wall Street and caused many people to lose their homes.
Speaking a day after the stock market had its worst day since 2001, he assured a rally in the Denver suburb of Golden that he understood the impact the crisis was having from Wall Street to Main Street.
“Jobs have disappeared, and peoples’ life savings have been put at risk. Millions of families face foreclosure, and millions more have seen their home values plummet,” he said.
“These are the struggles that Americans are facing. This is the pain that has now trickled up.”
Then he jetted off to Los Angeles Tuesday evening for a pair of glitzy fundraisers that could be the biggest for Democrats during this election cycle.
Republican John McCain lost no time pointing out Obama was courting the stars instead of ordinary folk. 
“(He) talks about siding with the people, siding with the people — just before he flies off to Hollywood for a fundraiser with Barbra Streisand and his celebrity friends,” McCain told a rally in Vienna, Ohio, a critical battleground state. “Let me tell you my friends, there’s no place I’d rather be than here with the working men and women of Ohio.”

Streisand, a Democratic activist and Oscar-winning actress and singer,  initially endorsed Hillary Clinton but has embraced Obama since he won the nomination.
The Illinois senator has put together a formidable fundraising machine that has attracted hundreds of thousands of small donors, pulling in $66 million in August alone. That compared with $47 million for McCain.
Obama’s fundraising skill prompted him to forego federal campaign financing, despite earlier pledges not to do so. That enables him to raise and spend more than he could if he accepted federal money. But it also means he has to spend more time off the campaign trail raising money.

Obama says odds of winning White House ‘very good’

ARLINGTON, Va. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama likes his chances in the White House battle with Republican John McCain, telling a fundraising reception the odds of his winning are “very good.”
“Let’s face it, there weren’t too many people who thought we were going to pull this off,” Obama told a fundraiser attended by about 40 people on Monday in Arlington, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington.
“We are now in a position where the odds of us winning are very good. But it is still going to be difficult.”
Obama said he was pleased with his trip to Europe and the Middle East — “we executed very well” — but did not expect it to give him a big bump in polls.
He said people were still evaluating his candidacy because he was a new face in national politics.
“I don’t look like any presidential candidate America has ever seen,” said Obama, the son of a black African father and white mother from Kansas who spent part of his youth in Indonesia.
“It’s not just a function of race, it’s background, experience, resume — this is new for them, and new for us as a country,” he said. He expects a close race to the end.
“We’re not going to see some huge gap develop, some huge separation develop between now and Nov. 4,” he said. “This is going to be a close election for a long time because I’m new on the national scene. 

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