Barack Obama

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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

President Barack Obama was in Chicago this week backing Governor Pat Quinn's re-election bid, while questions about Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative continue.

Deep and ominous voices sound the attack …sugary and optimistic voices signal support.  

As part of our series on the “dark arts” of the campaign business….we meet the people behind the voices trained to influence the democratic process.

As  Alex Keefe found, some of the most famous political ads in recent American history may have been voiced in a closet near you.

WOODEL: So, when I do voices for political campaigns, or for anybody, I do them out of my closet here in the house.

KEEFE: This is literally a closet.


Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says the United States should take a hard line against the Islamic State group.  

Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist. It also warns President Barack Obama that as long as U.S. air strikes against the group continue there'll be continued violence.  

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Undocumented immigrants in Central Illinois rallied in the capital city Thursday, asking President Obama to use his power of executive order to stop deportations. The Springfield gathering was part of a nationwide day of action by immigrants and allies.

Ralliers propped up at 10-foot-high puppet of President Obama. In his cardboard hands, two signs read "continue separating families" and "take bold executive action," representing the two choices the group said Obama has.

  U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk each say they support limited air strikes over Iraq to try to deter the Islamic State terrorist organization. But Durbin's expressing reservations.

President Barack Obama Thursday night authorized air strikes on the terrorist group which has been gaining territory in Iraq.

While Durbin (D-IL) says he is glad the action involves no boots on the ground, he's still cautious about getting involved in the conflict.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

An Illinois Senate panel Wednesday approved a measure to pay tribute to one of the chamber's most distinguished former members.                                         

Barack Obama was once one of 59 state senators. He had a desk. And a chair. And someone had the foresight to put them into storage.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

  Republicans say they've found another way to fundraise for a future Barack Obama presidential library ... one that doesn't involve state funds. This comes a day after Democrats advanced a plan to use state funds to entice the president to put his library in Chicago.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

  A legislative committee Wednesday voted to authorize spending $100 million to lure Barack Obama's presidential library to Chicago ... for the second time.

Before he became President, Barack Obama served as an Illinois state senator and a U.S. senator. He worked as a community organizer in Chicago, and taught at the University of Chicago law school.

All reasons he might locate his presidential library and museum in Illinois.

But New York and Hawaii are also in the running.

Illinois legislators will vote a second time on a plan to spend $100 million to help lure Barack Obama's Presidential Library and Museum to Chicago, following a controversy.

A lesson in politics: Whichever party is in charge can often use the rules to its advantage. Like last week, when the Obama library proposal passed out of a Democratic-controlled House committee with nine votes ... even though only five representatives were there. Republicans had skipped the hearing, and many say they're opposed to spending the money given Illinois' financial situation.

  The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Illinois House are taking opposing views on whether Illinois should promise taxpayer money to try and lure President Barack Obama's library and museum to Chicago.

The head of Illinois' Democratic Party, Michael Madigan, wants Illinois to spend $100 million dollars on a Presidential Library and Museum for Barack Obama.

It's up to Obama to choose where it'll be located.

One of the key farm bill negotiators says the nation has entered “a new era of farm and food policy.” 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) said the legislation President Obama signed into law Friday “values saving money, reforming or repealing government programs and yet still providing an effective safety net for the production of our national food supply and for those Americans who are struggling.”  Read Lucas' full statement here

  Illinois' senior U.S. Senator says he supports President Barack Obama's changes for the National Security Agency.

President Obama has seen a split within his own party since Edward Snowden's revelations about how the U.S is gathering intelligence.

But at least one Democrat — Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin — says Obama is taking the right steps in balancing privacy with keeping America safe.

Food Allergy Awareness Law

Nov 14, 2013

President Barack Obama has signed legislation giving financial incentives to states to stockpile emergency medications in schools that could save lives in the cases of allergic reactions.  
The deaths of two girls in Illinois and Virginia from severe food allergies helped spur efforts to get schools to stockpile epinephrine.  

Epinephrine is considered the first-line treatment for people with severe allergies. The medication is administered by injection through preloaded EpiPens.  
The measure was co-sponsored by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.  

Obama Applauds Illinois Legislature

Nov 5, 2013

President Barack Obama is praising the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in his home state of Illinois.   Obama, who served in the Illinois state Senate, released a statement saying he
was ``overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois.''
The president is commending members of the Legislature for approaching the
issue in an ``open and fair way.'' He says the nation's journey is not complete
until gay men and women are treated equally under the law.
Same-sex marriage legislation passed the state House on Tuesday, nearly nine

Healthcare Marketplace To Be Called 'Get Covered Illinois'

Sep 25, 2013

Illinois officials have decided on a brand name for the new health insurance marketplace set to open Tuesday.

Gov. Pat Quinn's administration unveiled the name Wednesday: It's  "Get Covered Illinois.'' The brand tagline is "The Official Health Marketplace.''

Deputy Gov. Cristal Thomas says the administration wanted a name that was "very clear about what this product has to offer.''


The price of insurance policies that will be offered under the federal health care overhaul remain a mystery, even to state officials.

Oct. 1 will be a big day across the country for President Barack Obama's signature health care law. It's the launch date for insurance marketplaces, the Affordable Care Act's term for where people without insurance will be able to shop for coverage.

While he waited for the concession call from Mitt Romney, the president worked on his acceptance speech with Jon Favreau, director of speechwriting, and campaign adviser David Axelrod at a Chicago hotel.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Collin Corbett is a Republican whose job it is to elect Republicans. His company in Chicago’s northern suburbs, Cor Strategies, has worked with presidential contender Mitt Romney, gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Bill Brady and dozens of lesser-known politicians vying for offices such as city council or circuit clerk. 

After President Barack Obama won re-election in November, Corbett says his Republican clients immediately wanted to copy the Democrat’s campaign tactics, especially when it came to technology. 

Wherever you start the selection of an American president, it’s going to be a big story with lots of reporters blowing it out of proportion — coverage that then has an impact on subsequent contests in the race.

Nowhere does the law of unintended consequences work better than in politics. The coming Illinois presidential primary on March 20 provides an example. 

President Barack Obama
WUIS/Illinois Issues

While Illinoisans revel in the fact that one of their own now sits in the White House, Barack Obama’s presidency has sapped the star power of the state’s congressional delegation, which already had lost key members in recent years.

“Outsiders can do two things: They can try to be like everybody else; or they can identify with other outsiders. Part of what Barack learned was not to be ideological.” —Jerry Kellman
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gerald Kellman’s office is in a nondescript ranch house on Chicago’s northwest side, adjacent to St. Mary of the Woods Catholic Church, which owns the property.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In the same 35-day span, the world saw two remarkably different faces of the Land of Lincoln.

One was Barack Obama, savoring his historic win before more than 100,000 admirers in Chicago’s Grant Park, standing as a polished and inspiring symbol of change for Illinois and America, the first African-American president. A man of honesty, the masses hoped.

Presidential Poetry

Dec 1, 2008
Barack Obama
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In October, as Illinois’ adopted son Barack Obama rose in the national presidential polls, a group of Chicago poets gathered for an “Obama open mic,” as part of an event called Poets for a Better Country. Organized by Toi Derricotte and Judith Vollmer, poets and professors at the University of Pittsburgh, the event was held simultaneously in cities across the country, including Chicago, Falmouth, Mass., New York City, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. “As poets, we have a historic duty to express the unspoken passion, rage, desires and hopes of our country.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Not long ago, I was complaining to a friend and colleague about a previous political campaign. “Why does it have to be so incredibly negative?” I grumbled. His simple reply: “It works.”

My friend, one of the better-known political writers in the state, is a pragmatist. He wasn’t endorsing the tactic; just stating a fact.

Well, it doesn’t work for me. After months of following the backs-and-forths of this year’s presidential campaign like a political tennis match, I am so sick of the negativity — from both camps — that I’m ready to check “None of the above” on the ballot.

Now that the Land of Lincoln — and Grant and Reagan — faces the possibility of another Illinois resident moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., many Illinoisans want to know what a Barack Obama presidency would mean for his home state.

There is, of course, the obvious: Fellow Illinoisans would follow Obama to the White House to serve as advisers and aides; the nation would take a closer look at Illinois politics; and a presidential library eventually would draw tourists and academics after Obama left office. 

Barack Obama in February 2007 as he announces his intention to run for president
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Editor’s note: Barack Obama wrote this article for Illinois Issues in 1988, while he was a community organizer in Chicago. It later became part of a book, After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois, published by Illinois Issues in 1990. We are republishing it this month to show, in his own words, some of the Democratic presidential candidate’s earliest influences in Illinois.


Dan Fisher met Barack Obama only once. It was three years ago, when Obama stopped in Gillespie, a town about 50 miles south of Springfield, during his campaign for the U.S. Senate. As he left the stage, Obama turned to Fisher, who was standing nearby holding an empty beer cup. Their conversation lasted just a few minutes.

Obama: He puts ethics on the agenda

Feb 1, 2007

Barack Obama says the "extremely good fortune" that launched him, seemingly without effort, into the top tier of American politics has helped him steer clear of entanglements with special interests and donors.

"I'm not sure that's a typical experience. But it allows me even more independence now that I'm a sought-after politician because I get to talk to the voters directly," Obama said in an interview shortly after the November election.

Barack Obama's election to the U.S. Senate from Illinois may prove to be one of the most significant in American history. Perhaps not since the Senate election of 1858, when Stephen Douglas defeated Abraham Lincoln, has one Senate election had such an impact on the national leadership cadre. Although Lincoln lost that election, his speeches and debates with Douglas over slavery and the future of the Union ensured his place as a national leader of the young Republican Party and then as a leading contender for the Republican nomination in 1860.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Will he or won't he? By the time you read this, you're likely to know. But in mid-January, as we get the issue ready for the printer, we don't have that advantage — despite lots of telephone conversations with and e-mails from Dan Vock, who wrote our cover story out of D.C., Webgrams from any number of sources and early reports by Anderson Cooper. 

If next month's election turns out the way just about everyone expects, Illinois will send one Harvard-educated African American to Washington, D.C., and another back to Maryland.

In education and race, Barack Obama and Alan Keyes share common backgrounds. But the similarities stop there with these two competitors for the state's open U.S. Senate seat.