Ten years to the day of being elected president, former President Barack Obama is home revving up a get-out-the-vote rally Sunday, pushing voters to cast ballots early or turn out on Tuesday for the Illinois Democrat ticket.
“The character of our nation is on the ballot,” a hoarse Obama told the crowd Sunday at the rally, which kicked off at 3 p.m. at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion, 525 S. Racine Ave.
“When you vote, when you participate in the political process, you can be a check on bad behavior,” Obama said.
As the rally ended, Obama joined Illinois Democratic candidates including J.B. Pritzker, his running mate, Juliana Stratton, and Illinois attorney general hopeful Kwame Raoul onstage. “Out of this political darkness, around the country, I am seeing an awakening,” Obama told the crowd.
Grammy- and Academy Award-winning rapper and actor Common energized the crowd earlier in the event.
“Hey everybody, I’m from the South Side of Chicago,” Common said.
Long lines of people stood outside the pavilion Sunday despite the rain.
Gubernatorial candidate Pritzker took the stage before Obama spoke to say “hatred and misogyny should have no place in America.” He told the crowd, “This election is about what Illinois can be.”
Raoul told the crowd, “I’m a proud son of Haitian immigrants who did not come from [a] s-hole,” referencing reports of President Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks about immigration from several countries earlier this year. “I am a birthright baby,” Raoul said.
Comptroller and likely Chicago mayoral contender Susana Mendoza called herself at the rally “your truth-telling fiscal watchdog who is not afraid to stand up to Bruce Rauner.”
Getting big cheers early in the rally: U.S. House hopeful Lauren Underwood, the nurse running against GOP Rep. Randy Hultgren. Another U.S. House candidate, Sean Casten, was also slated to speak.
Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin told the crowd at UIC the election Tuesday is about “saying no to hate and fear we hear from this president every day.”
Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth delivered a stemwinder at the rally: On Tuesday, be there to “say no to [President Trump], say no to [Gov. Bruce Rauner,]” and say no to a “petulant schoolyard bully of a president.” Both Durbin and Duckworth have both been on the Illinois road for Democrats. Neither are up for re-election this year.
Illinois Democratic Party chair Michael Madigan will not be at the rally, sources say. But Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did show up backstage, according to a source who said he and Obama “chatted about midterm expectations, what they are hearing about races around the county and about the Obama Presidential Center.”
Rauner hits the trail
Rauner is looking to boost GOP turnout with stops Sunday in Decatur; Gibson City; Morris, and St. Charles. While the Illinois Democratic ticket is united, the GOP contenders are not stumping together in the final days of the campaign.
Early voting ends Monday.
Ten years ago, Chicagoans filled Grant Park to celebrate then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., becoming the first African-American president. Today, Democrats are pushing to reclaim some of the power they lost with the surprise win of President Donald Trump in 2016.
The election season is winding up with Trump and Obama holding dueling events to turn out their respective base votes.
Obama has been on the stump for embattled Democrats. Before coming home to Chicago, Obama is leading an Indiana turnout rally for Sen. Joe Donnelly, one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats. While Indiana is heavily Republican, northwest Indiana is a Democratic stronghold.
Obama, who used an absentee ballot to vote from his home in Kenwood, needs to jazz up turnout from Democratic stronghold Chicago for the statewide ticket.
Democrats concerned about Raoul
While Pritzker is ending his battle with Rauner well ahead in all polls, there is some concern over Raoul, who is locked in a struggle with GOP opponent Erika Harold.
Casten and Underwood, running in Republican suburban House districts, need massive Democratic turnout to beat their rivals. Casten is aiming to defeat Rep. Peter Roskam in the 6th District and Underwood wants to deny Rep. Randy Hultgren another term in the 14th district.
On Monday, the president will hold rallies in Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Cape Girardeau, Mo.
On Sunday, Trump hits Macon, Ga., for a 3:55 p.m. rally, speaking at about the same time Obama will be on the stage at UIC. Trump has an evening rally in Chattanooga, Tenn., and stumps in Ft. Wayne on Monday.
Take a look back at this day, 10 years ago, when Barack Obama was elected president: