Obama, Clinton Each Have Ties to Chicago VIPs At first glance, you'd think Sen. Barack Obama would have no problem lining up Chicago's most influential Democrats to support and fund his presidential bid. But Hillary Rodham Clinton was born and raised there, which gives her an in with Chicago power brokers and fundraisers.
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Obama, Clinton Each Have Ties to Chicago VIPs

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Obama, Clinton Each Have Ties to Chicago VIPs

Obama, Clinton Each Have Ties to Chicago VIPs

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

Today it's New Hampshire. Yesterday it was Iowa. Democratic Senator Barack Obama is out on the campaign trail after formally announcing his presidential bid over the weekend. Obama also made a stop in his hometown of Chicago for a fundraiser. Many influential Chicago Democrats were there offering their political and financial support. But not everyone among Chicago's Democratic elite is lining up behind Obama. Hillary Rodham Clinton also has deep roots in Chicago. She was born there.

And as NPR's David Schaper reports, that's leaving many of the city's power brokers torn between two candidates.

DAVID SCHAPER: One the wall of the den in his north side Chicago home, Lou Manilow displays several pictures of him and his family with the Clintons.

Mr. LOU MANILOW: Here's one at the White House Christmas party. See, that's Susan, Bill and Hillary.

SCHAPER: Manilow was Bill Clinton's Illinois campaign finance chairman in 1992 and has remained close to the Clintons ever since. And he says he thinks the world of Hillary Clinton.

Mr. MANILOW: Absolutely. I think she's been a superb senator and she's a terrific, experienced gal. No question about it.

SCHAPER: But this time around, Manilow is solidly Barack Obama.

Mr. MANILOW: First of all, he's local. I know him. He's done a wonderful job. He's the most talented politician to come on the scenes in a long, long time.

SCHAPER: On the other side, Chicago Alderman Danny Solis also thinks highly of Obama. He says the two got to know each other years ago when both worked as community organizers.

Mr. DANNY SOLIS (Chicago Alderman): Out of our leaders, the leaders that we work with in the different communities in Chicago really saw something special in him, and so did I.

SCHAPER: But Solis, a Chicagoan through and through, who roots for the White Sox over the Yankees and the Bears over the Giants, says he'll be supporting New York's Senator Clinton.

Mr. SOLIS: Hillary has a little bit more experience, which I think is important in this day and age in the world that we live in, and secondly, my sister is Hillary's campaign manager. And blood, at least in my family, is certainly thicker than water.

SCHAPER: Patty Solis Doyle is just one of many Chicago political strategists and foot soldiers with connections to the Clintons going back to the 1992 campaign. Hillary Rodham Clinton herself has deep roots. She was born and raised in the Chicago area and still keeps in touch with a large network of friends here. So many within Chicago's Democratic establishment are torn.

Mr. JIM TERMAN: I know people who feel very loyal to both of them, have histories with both of these candidates and are having a tough time.

SCHAPER: Jim Terman is a partner in the Chicago-based public affairs firm Jasculca-Terman.

Mr. TERMAN: You know, many folks are sort of, they may even be trying to hide in the shadows because they don't want to pick.

SCHAPER: Terman did pick. Despite the fact that his firm did advance work for the Clinton campaigns and the Clinton White House, he's backing Obama. But his partner, Rick Jasculca, who has continued to do events for Senator Clinton is staying with her. Terman says that division between partners extends to many of the firm's associates, some of whom went to Iowa earlier this month volunteering for Clinton while others spent this past weekend working for Obama.

Among the other heavy hitters with ties to both, former Clinton commerce secretary Bill Daley and his brother, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, are with Obama. Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a top former Clinton White House aide, is quoted as saying he's hiding under his desk and putting off his choice for as long as possible.

But many who are caught in the middle between Obama and Clinton, like consultant and political fundraiser Bill Brandt, say this isn't a bad problem for Chicago Democrats to have.

Mr. BILL BRANDT: No one is standing in the middle of the Michigan Avenue Bridge today, having had it just occur to them that they now have to pick between Barack and Hillary and deciding to jump instead.

SCHAPER: Chicago author Sarah Paretsky says she's not ready to jump, but she still can't make up her mind.

Ms. SARAH PARETSKY: I get mailings from both of them asking for support and I think well, I love you both, so I hope you both win.

SCHAPER: Paretsky says she may solve her dilemma by just writing checks to Obama and Clinton, as many Democrats here call the presidential candidacies of both an embarrassment of riches that can only benefit Chicago in the long run.

David Schaper, NPR News. Chicago.

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