- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 3, 2014

CHICAGO — President Obama told fellow Democrats on Wednesday night that his party often goes into “hibernation” during midterm election season, but said they must gain seats in Congress this year.

The president offered brief remarks at the Chicago home of Obama campaign donors Grace Tsao-Wu and Craig Freedman. There were about 60 people in attendance, donating up to $10,000 each to the Democratic Party.

“We need to hang on the Senate. We need to pick up seats in the House. We need to make sure that the public knows very clearly what is at stake in this election,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s hard during midterms because Democrats have a tendency to get really excited during presidential years and then, during the midterms, we go into hibernation.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the president pushed an increase in the nation’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 during a speech at the University of Michigan. He then attended a fundraiser at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse, where he also delivered a brief statement about Wednesday’s shooting at Fort Hood.

At the second fundraiser, Mr. Obama also sounded a nostalgic note and said it was good to be back home in Chicago.

“As I look around this room, I’m reminded of all the pieces of myself that are connected to individuals in this room. There are people here who have been friends of mine for a couple of decades now,” the president said. “There are folks here who were with me when nobody gave me a chance to even get to the U.S. Senate.”

Mr. Obama also tied the unfolding situation in Ukraine to the virtues of the U.S., charging that Russia is acting aggressively not because it’s a strong nation but because it’s weak and no one wants to move there.

“I’ve had to explain to people that Russia moving troops into Ukraine wasn’t a sign of strength, it was a sign of weakness. You’ve got a country that isn’t attracting people from the outside. The population is shrinking,” he said.

“It feels surrounded in part because people look at the West and they look at Europe and they look at America and they say, ‘This is a place where if we put in effort, without connections, without being born to the right place, without having to pay a bribe, we might be able to succeed,’” the president said.

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