ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
In his hometown of Chicago, President Obama joked about the city that recently pulled away Rahm Emanuel from the nation’s capitol.
“Have you seen my chief of staff,” Obama asked a crowd at the Drake Hotel tonight. “I was like looking around and I was like, ‘What happened?’”
The president this evening planned to headline two fundraising events for Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. He did so without Emanuel, his recently departed chief of staff, who was not present at the Drake Hotel event.
Giannoulias is locked in a tight race with Republican Rep. Mark Kirk for Obama’s former Senate seat. The president said not to count out Giannoulias, an old basketball buddy from his Chicago days.
“I have still some sore ribs to prove it,” Obama quipped. “He’s a competitor. And we’ve seen that in this campaign. He just keeps on plowing ahead.”
The president again spoke about the so-called enthusiasm gap and urged those who fought for his win in 2008 to prove the pundits wrong and come out to vote again.
“It’s up to you to defy the conventional wisdom once again," he said. "It’s up to you to show the pundits that you love this country too much to let it fall backwards.”
The events for Giannoulias were expected to rake in $750,000 to be split between the DSCC and the Giannoulias campaign.
In remarks before the president arrived, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., joked that the tea party movement “can have the witches and the wingnuts,” and urged those in the room to get out and vote for the Democratic Party.