- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2012

President Obama kicked off a full day of fundraising Friday in Chicago by urging Republican presidential candidates to behave more like Abraham Lincoln by promoting the common good.

Speaking in advance of the GOP Illinois primary on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said, “My message to all the candidates is welcome to the Land of Lincoln, because I am thinking maybe some Lincoln will rub off on them while they are here.”

“This is a president who, in the midst of the Civil War, launched the transcontinental railroad, understanding that in order for America to grow, we had to stitch ourselves together,” Mr. Obama said.

Both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania campaigned in Illinois Friday.

Mr. Obama said Lincoln, the first Republican president, “knew that if we as a nation through our federal government didn’t act to facilitate these things, then they likely wouldn’t happen and as a result we would all be worse off.”

Mr. Obama flew on Air Force One Friday morning from Washington to to his home city, then was to fly later in the day to Atlanta, for a series of five fundraisers that are expected to net his reelection campaign at least $5.5 million. He had no public events or private briefings on his schedule for the entire day; it’s believed to be the first time Mr. Obama has held five fundraisers in a single day.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that the president isn’t neglecting his duties as chief executive. For example, he said, Mr. Obama called Afghan President Hamid Karzai shortly after midnight Thursday to discuss concerns expressed by Mr. Karzai about foreign troops in Afghan villages.

“The president of the United States is president of the United State 24 hours a day, including when he calls foreign leaders in the very early hours of the morning, and on weekends, and on any given day of the week,” Mr. Carney said. “I can assure you that his day will be full of the execution of his responsibilities as president, even as he is engaging in some of these campaign events.”

Mr. Carney said the White House adheres carefully to rules covering the reimbursement of the government by the campaign’s coffers for such trips.

In Chicago, the president told about 600 supporters who paid a minimum of $2,500 each that the Republican field of contenders so far hasn’t exactly behaved like the Great Emancipator.

“You may be watching some of this avalanche of attack ads and think this is not appealing to the better angels of our nature,” he said, quoting from Lincoln’s first inaugural address. “But hope springs eternal!”

Mr. Obama called for ending tax breaks for oil companies, and for raising taxes on Americans who earn at least $1 million per year.

“Our politics may be divided, but most Americans understand that we are greater together, … we rise and fall as one people,” the president said. “That is what is at stake in this election.”

Following his speech in a hotel ballroom, the president went into a closed roundtable discussion with a more select group of 60 supporters for which tickets started at $10,000.

In Atlanta, Mr. Obama was to hold three more fundraisers: a $35,800-a-head event at the residence of actor and director Tyler Perry, a separate event at Tyler Perry Studios and finally a $10,000-per-person fundraiser at a private residence. CeeLo Green is expected to perform at the studio; he is famous among other songs for his hit “F– You.”

“I know he’s a fan,” Mr. Carney said of the president. “I don’t have any comment on specific songs.”

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