Obama Marks 50th Birthday At Chicago Campaign Events President Obama flew to Chicago late Wednesday for two fundraisers timed to coincide with his 50th birthday Thursday.
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Obama Marks 50th Birthday At Chicago Campaign Events

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Obama Marks 50th Birthday At Chicago Campaign Events

Obama Marks 50th Birthday At Chicago Campaign Events

Obama Marks 50th Birthday At Chicago Campaign Events

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President Obama flew to Chicago late Wednesday for two fundraisers timed to coincide with his 50th birthday Thursday.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

NPR: NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from the campaign trail.

ARI SHAPIRO: It may not have been Marilyn Monroe singing to John F. Kennedy, but as birthday serenades go, you could do worse than movie star and Chicago native, Jennifer Hudson.

JENNIFER H: (Singing) Happy birthday to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: Twenty-four hundred people crowded into a hot, muggy ballroom as President Obama described what turning 50 means to him.

BARACK OBAMA: By the time I wake up, I'll have an e-mail from AARP...

OBAMA: ...asking me to call President Obama and tell them to protect Medicare.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: Medicare could be cut in the next round of deficit reductions. The president didn't talk much about the last round of negotiations that have occupied so much of his energy, saying simply: We don't have time to play partisan games.

OBAMA: Unidentified Woman: But we can do it.

OBAMA: But we can do it.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: Chris Veronis(ph) is a communications consultant in Chicago.

CHRIS VERONIS: Personally, I think he's weaker. He came in on soaring rhetoric, a lot of goodwill, people were behind him. He got bin Laden. But for some reason that doesn't seem to be translating into getting things done.

SHAPIRO: At the rally, the president tried to counter that perception by listing his accomplishments, but he recognized that the last two years have sometimes been frustrating.

OBAMA: And we knew the road ahead was going to be difficult, that the climb was going to be steep. I have to admit I didn't know how steep the climb is going to be.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: Still, by the end of the speech, the crowd sounded fired up with an enthusiasm reminiscent of 2008.

OBAMA: It doesn't matter how tough a week I have in Washington 'cause I know you've got me.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

OBAMA: You've got my back. When I come to Chicago, when I travel across the country, I know we can't be stopped.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: At the house party in Alexandria, Virginia, retired computer programmer Marlene Walker baked sugar cookies for the president birthday.

MARLENE WALKER: Well, the five and zero that was decorated with the logo - Obama logo.

SHAPIRO: She says the president needs another four years to appoint more Supreme Court justices and to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

WALKER: I mean I'm disappointed. Things haven't, you know, happened as quickly. But I'm certainly not disappointed to the point that, you know, would abandon the cause.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: Back in Illinois, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington says disappointment is to be expected.

LAURA WASHINGTON: I think the expectations are a huge part of the story. He set them so high, this whole change - we're going to do - we're going to change the way we do business in Washington, we're going to change this country forever, it was an impossible goal.

SHAPIRO: Ari Shapiro, NPR News traveling with the president.

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