Obama Goes to Bat for Alexi Giannoulias, His Old Basketball Buddy, in Illinois

Aug 5, 2010 6:35pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: President Obama went to bat today for his old basketball friend from Chicago, Alexi Giannoulias, who is running for his old Senate seat in Illinois. “Alexi is my friend,” Obama said, making a personal pitch from the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. “I know his character.  I know how much he loves this country.  I know how committed he is to public service for all the right reasons.” By pitching in, President Obama’s own political capital is on the line in an election that is neck-and-neck between Giannoulias and his Republican opponent, Rep. Mark Kirk. About 400 people turned out for the $1,000 to $2,400-a-plate fundraiser, which gives a big boost to Giannoulias, whose opponent has nearly four times as much money in his campaign war chest. “Alexi is not one of these politicians who puts his finger to the wind and who changes who he is or where he stands to suit the political moment.  You can trust him.  You can count on him,” Obama said.  The president played up Giannoulias’ time as Illinois state treasurer as a fighter. “Alexi has proven himself as someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to special interests,” Obama said. “He took on credit card companies and banned them from aggressively marketing on college campuses, so that our kids don’t graduate with credit card debt on top of tuition debt.” The president said that Republicans – instead of bringing change – want to stand in the way of reform, as evidence by some Republicans wishing to repeal Wall Street reform, he said. “Most of them voted against it, including Alexi’s opponent.  Now they want to repeal it.  Now, think about it:  worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, almost put the entire economy over a cliff — 8 million people unemployed as a consequence of it.  And their answer is, go back to the status quo that got us into this,” Obama said. The president said the choice in this election is between going back to the same rules that allowed the economic crisis to happen or “to keep on moving forward.” The commander-in-chief turned fundraiser-in-chief today has two more fundraisers this evening in Chicago for the DNC, which are anticipated to rake in $1.5 million for the democrats. -Sunlen Miller

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