Obama to visit Detroit at crucial time in campaign

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    Barack Obama_webPresident Barack Obama is set to be in metro Detroit next week, April 18, to take part in two major fundraisers for his 2012 reelection battle against likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney. 

    Obama is already leading Romney in Michigan, a state that is not a surety for Democrats in this election cycle.

    But the weight of what promises to be a gruelling 2012 presidential campaign is already weighing in on the campaign to reelect President Obama. 

    Aside from making history as the nation’s first Black president after a bruising 2008 campaign, the question now is, can the man who said “Yes We Can” pull it off in November? 

    Can he win reelection in a rancorous political climate where the economy is slowly recovering and the fate of his landmark health care law is now being decided by the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court? 

    In private lunch and dinner meetings with some top Democratic and White House officials, Democrats are very concerned about their message in this campaign season, and are  treading cautiously. 

    While some top Dems and those who work for the president are convinced that Romney – if he is the nominee – can be defeated, they also are not forgetful of the fact that the nation that reelected George W. Bush can do the unthinkable. That though the Republican candidates seemed on the surface to be unelectable, it still doesn’t exempt the GOP from a real shot at the White House. 

    So in a very real sense Democrats are not taking the president’s reelection chances lightly even if their current behavior suggests the opposite. 

    If the U.S. Supreme Court bans the health care legislation, it would create a momemtum for both Republicans and Democrats to energize their base. While Republicans will champion it as a triumph for individual liberty, Obama can use it as campaign fuel by running against both Congress and the Supreme Court.  

    Obama senior campaign advisor David Axelrod said the campaign strategy in 2012 will be to show how Romney is disconnected from the middle class and the rest of the nation. This despite the fact that a Washington Post early poll shows Romney ahead of the president on who best can handle the economy. 

    While there is nothing serious to read in early polls, it still signals a tough battle for the Obama campaign because this time around they are facing a different candidate, and the leader of the free world is running as an incumbent, not as a Washington outsider.  

    Michigan is among those states that will help determine how the presidential pendulum swings on the road to Election Day. And Detroit, the state’s largest Democratic constituency, is crucial in that campaign. 

      With Obama’s visit, Democrats in the state are expecting to raise almost a million dollars from the two functions. 

    The first fundraiser is at the Henry Ford Museum, where the tickets starts at $250. To join the  fundraising dinner and receive a photo, the cost is $5,000. Anyone interested in being part of the “VIP rope line” must pay up to $1000. 

    The second fundraiser will take place at the home of University of Michigan Board of Regents member Denise Ilitch and Jim Scalici in Bingham Farms. The ticket for that event is $40,000 per person for a formal photo, dinner and the cocktail reception, and $10,000 per person for dinner and a candid photo.  

    Detroiter Simone Lightfoot, a campaign veteran, said she would like to “see Obama here in a presidential role to help us with the challenges we are facing. It’s one thing to raise money, it’s another thing to enlist the support of the people so they can feel like you are helping them on the ground.” 

    Lightfoot said Detroit is facing many challenges politically as well as basic human rights matters. 

    “I’ve love for him to weave that into his remarks as he receives contributions,” Lightfoot said. 

    It makes sense that Obama is making his 11th trip to the state and raising money, because the campaign needs to make an early impression on not only its base but also on independents and women. 

    The Republican orchestrated war on women is a Christmas gift for Democrats, if only they know how to utilize the politics of contraception by separating fact from fiction and letting women know exactly what is at stake.  

    Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and the author of a six-part series on the Obama presidency, including “Obama and Black Loyalty,” published last year. His latest book is ”Obama and Christian Loyalty” with an epilogue written by Bob Weiner, former White House spokesman. His upcoming books in 2012 are “Obama and Jewish Loyalty” and ”Obama and Business Loyalty.” Listen to him every Thursday morning on WDET 101.9 FM Detroit and every Sunday, 9 to 10 p.m. on “The Obama Watch” program on WLIB 1190 AM-New York. E-mail  bthomspon@michronicle.com. 

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