Michelle Obama raises funds in home town

Tribune reporter

In what could be her last pre-election visit to her hometown, First Lady Michelle Obama told donors at a Chicago fundraiser Thursday that a president must be driven by the plight of “all you serve,” as she encouraged supporters to engage voters in neighboring battleground states of Iowa and Wisconsin.

Though she did not mention Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by name, she appeared to allude to controversial comments recorded on videotape at a GOP fundraiser in which he contended 47 percent of the public would back President Barack Obama, because they are “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims.” The comments are also part of a new Obama campaign ad.

“You see, as president, you must be driven by the struggle, hopes and dreams of all you serve,” she told a few hundred people in a TV-studio style setting at Harpo Studios on the Near West Side. “That‘s how you make the right decisions for this country. That’s what it takes to be a leader.”

Speaking before an electronic backdrop of the campaign’s 2012 motto, “Forward,” and with a teleprompter on stage, Mrs. Obama said her husband had promised to tell the American people the truth, not just what they want to hear “when everyone is urging you to do what’s easy, what polls best, what gets good headlines.”

She maintained that the administration has made strides in restoring the economy and meeting the Obama campaign’s winning 2008 motto.

“Barack has been fighting for us,” she said. “Slowly but surely we have been pulling ourselves out of that hole that we started in. For three-and-a-half years we’ve been moving forward and making progress and we’re beginning to see that change we all can believe in,” she said.

She said while the president is “very proud of what we’ve all achieved together, trust me, my husband is nowhere near satisfied” with the economy. “It’s going to take a lot longer than four years to rebuild an economy that was on the brink of collapse,” she said.

After a stop at NBC Tower to tape the Steve Harvey Show, which is to air next Wednesday, the Harpo Studios event was the first of two Chicago fundraisers for Mrs. Obama.

She also attended an evening fundraiser of the LGBT Leadership Council at the home of Fred Eychaner, owner of Newsweb Corp. Tickets for both events started at $250 and went to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of the president’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties. 

The second fundraiser was held at the multi-level, Lincoln Park home of Eychaner, a major Democratic donor.

Upon entering up a stone staircase to the upper-level patio, a sign on the glass door read: “Obama pride. LGBT for Obama.”

About 200 people attended in the three-story modern-styled home featured towering concrete walls and wall-length glass windows.
Wearing a cream-colored pant-suit, the first lady spoke before a lectern and teleprompter. Three American flags were staged behind her. She began her remarks at about 7 p.m. and spoke for about 28 minutes.
Obama spoke about many of the same subjects as at her earlier appearance, including community.

“No one is where they are on their own,” she said. “You value everyone’s contributions. You treat everyone with respect.”

She said her husband knew the value of having the freedom to be “married to the love of their life,” to loud cheers.

She then turned to battleground states and implored the crowd that there was still much work to be done. “The only guarantee you have in this election is it will be closer than the last one.”

White House pool reports contributed.

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