Obama in Chicago for re-election bid; homecoming not so sweet for some

10:48, April 15, 2011      

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by Ted Regencia

President Obama returned to his hometown Chicago on Thursday to kick start his campaign for a second term, and raise millions of dollars to finance his 2012 re-election bid.

But even in this Obama-friendly town, where the president launched his political career as a community organizer, not all are enthusiastic about his visit, with some expressing frustration about unfulfilled promises about the economy, as well as issues like the war and immigration.

Obama, a former Illinois senator, arrived late in the afternoon from Washington D.C., where he had a full day of meetings with the Emir of Qatar and his bipartisan group of advisers on budget deficit reduction.

As soon as the presidential aircraft Air Force One landed in Chicago, the commander-in-chief turned into fundraiser-in-chief attending two high-priced dinner events, and a large reception aimed at younger and small-amount donors.

At the MK Restaurant in Chicago's Gold Coast area, Obama dined with contributors who paid 35,800 U.S. dollars a plate. At N9NE Steakhouse in the West Loop, diners paid 5,000 dollars to 15,000 dollars to meet the president. Obama is only allowed to accept a maximum contribution of 5,000dollars per person. The rest of the contributions will go to the Democratic National Committee.

The Obama re-election campaign is being run from Chicago, with headquarters at the Prudential Plaza overlooking Millennium Park. It expects to raise as much as 1.0 billion dollars.

Outside Navy Pier, a group of activists against the war mounted a protest action criticizing the president.

"We're not surprised at all that President Obama, who many people (are) hoping would bring about changes, has brought the exact opposite. He's escalated the war, he's expanded the wars," John Beacham, Chicago coordinator of the anti-war group ANSWER, said in an earlier interview with Xinhua.

"We are protesting the war, because the money that's been spent in the war should be spent on things people actually need," Beacham said, adding that both Obama and the opposition Republican Party "ultimately work" in the interest of Wall Street and wealthy corporations.

Beacham cited Obama's deficit reduction plan, which seeks to balance the budget by cutting trillions of dollars in funding, would hurt "regular working people and working families."

Not too far from Obama Campaign Headquarters, Joshua Hoyt of the Illinois Coalition on Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is calling the president to task for failing to deliver on his promise to pass the immigration reform bill.

"He promised immigration reform his first year in office. All we have gotten are record number of deportations and families destroyed," Hoyt told Xinhua on Thursday, just hours before Obama's arrival.

"We welcome President Obama back to his home. We wish him well. But we have to tell him that in the immigrant communities, there is a lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy," he said.

Hoyt is urging Obama to stop the deportations, especially among the students who would qualify for the long-proposed DREAM Act, which seeks to legalize undocumented students who entered the U.S. illegally as children.

"What we need for him to do is to use his presidential administrative powers and end the destruction of families, by granting parole in place to those undocumented with significant roots in this country," he said.

In order for Obama to get re-elected, he needs the "active support" of the growing Latino voters and Asian immigrants," Hoyt stressed. "He will not be re-elected unless there is enthusiastic support" in the immigrant community, he added.

Marissa Graciosa, campaign coordinator of the Center for Community Change, said she is also "very disappointed" with President Obama.

"I feel very disappointed, and I think the community is disappointed because we expected more from this president," Graciosa said, while pointing out that more deportations happened under the Obama administration, than during the eight years of President George W. Bush.

Graciosa told Xinhua that her organization is registering voters and making sure that people are becoming American citizens "if they have the ability to do so," so they can influence the outcome of the next presidential elections.

"For the upcoming elections, we know that there are states across the county that President Obama is absolutely going to need the immigrants and Latino votes to win, if he wants to win. And if he wants those folks to come out and vote, he better deliver some relief for our communities and for our families," Graciosa said.

Source: Xinhua
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