CHICAGO — Tweaking Republicans four days before the Illinois primary, President Barack Obama said Friday that the hopefuls campaigning to take his job would do well to channel the moderation and inclusiveness of the Land of Lincoln.
"I'm thinking maybe some Lincoln will rub off on them while they're here," Obama told a lunchtime fundraiser in Chicago.
Obama also noted the barrage of attack ads the primary season has unleashed and said they're not exactly appealing to – in Lincoln's famous words – "the better angels of our nature."
The nation's first Republican president is an oft-mentioned Obama role model, and he began a day of fundraising in Illinois and Georgia by holding Lincoln up as an example to today's conservative GOP field.
"We've got some guests in Illinois this week," Obama noted at a donor event organized by Democratic lawyers. "Apparently they have not wrapped up on the other side."
Obama said Lincoln understood Americans are one nation, and they rise and fall together. He contrasted that with "on-your-own economics" which he says his GOP foes embrace.
While stumping in the state, Obama said he hopes those foes "take a little time to reflect on this great man."
Recalling Lincoln's devotion to education and public transportation, Obama said, "That vision of Lincoln's – a vision of a big, bold, generous, dynamic, active, inclusive America – that's the vision that has driven this country for more than 200 years."
Obama was expected to raise at least $4.8 million during the day. Seats at the Chicago fundraiser ranged from $2,500 to $10,000. Campaign officials expected about 600 to attend.
At a fundraiser later in Atlanta, Obama cast the Republican Party as holding a "fundamentally different vision about who we are as a country" and compared his challengers unfavorably with his 2008 presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain.
"That shift that has taken place in the Republican Party we haven't seen in a very long time," he said. "In 2008, the guy I was running against, the Republican nominee, he didn't deny that climate change might be a problem, he thought it was a good idea for us to ban torture, he was on record as having supported immigration reform."
The Obama campaign's African American Leadership Council held a gala at film producer Tyler Perry's studio in Atlanta, featuring a performance by singer Cee Lo Green. General admission tickets were $500. VIP tickets ranged from $2,500 to $10,000. A more intimate dinner for 40 at Perry's home was expected to raise $35,800 per guest. Among those attending was Oprah Winfrey.
The president wasn't the only Obama on the road raising money Friday. First lady Michelle Obama was meeting with donors during a trip to Minneapolis.
The money is split between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.