"I, for one, am unwilling to let President Barack Obama be bullied out of office!", Massachusetts Gov. DeVal Patrick told an enthusiastic crowd at the 41st Annual Conference of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund at the Chicago Hilton & Towers across the street from Grant Park on Wednesday, July 11 as Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was addressing the NAACP in Houston and facing a tough crowd who at times booed him.
Patrick succeeded Mitt Romney as the governor of the state of Massachusetts taking office in 2007. Patrick is in his second term as governor. Romney only served one term.
Rattling off a list of President Obama's accomplishments at the luncheon, Patrick said "It's a record long, impressive and barely told." Those accomplishments Patrick cited began with no more Osama bin Laden, allowing you to marry who you love, saving the American auto industry, preventing another Great Depression, and in the last two years 4.5 million new jobs.
In contrast, Patrick said Obama's Republican opposition "has made division the centerpiece of their governing strategy."
"This 2012 presidential election", Patrick continued, "is about the character of the candidates and the character of our country. Helping people help themselves--and there is only one candidate in that race who does this, President Barack Obama."
Patrick shared with the audience that he had been written off when he ran for re-election as governor of Massachusetts in 2010. That he had not accomplished all he had wanted to at that juncture. Just as the president has more he wants to accomplish. Patrick recalls talking with President Obama about how the two things he hated about campaigning were asking for money and bragging about himself. The president's reply? "Get over it!"
When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the mike, he put the choice facing voters in the November presidential election more starkly, "Osama bin Laden is dead. GM is alive. Do you have a question?"
Then Emanuel posed a question of his own. "How can we not be optimistic about the future when the students are optimistic? We have kids hanging their futures on the choices we make as adults. We have to invest in their futures. The most important thing we can do, is ensure another generation of kids have the same opportunities we did."
Emanuel stressed, "The importance of education.To be able to go from 5600 South Wabash Avenue in Chicago where DeVal Patrick grew up in a two bedroom apartment with his mother and grandmother to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it all comes down to one thing--education. Only in America." An endorsement of DeVal Patrick for president in 2016 perhaps?
Heck, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn who also spoke at the luncheon asked those assembled, "Don't you think we should have a street named after DeVal Patrick, a favorite son?" Patrick grew up on Chicago's south side even though he is now governor of Massachusetts.
As to the future of healthcare in Illinois following the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Quinn said with a nod to Governor DeVal Patrick who has implemented his predecessor Mitt Romney's healthcare plan for the Bay State, "In Illinois, we want to have everyone in, nobody left out. To be like Massachusetts."
Getting back to Mayor Emanuel, he lauded African-Americans from Chicago who have made a "landmark footprint in both the private sector and public sector that we should be very proud of." Emanuel also acknowledged the contributions of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition "to the success of many of them."
In closing, Emanuel emphasized the two front doors in a student's life that are so important in learning. The front door of a home with unconditional love and the front door of a classroom with a teacher who inspires you.
Actor Danny Glover participated in a panel discussion earlier in the day celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the African National Congress, founded in 1912 and South Africa's governing political party in post-apartheid South Africa since 1994.
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is not attending the conference amidst much speculation kicking off the conference as to his medical condition. He has been on medical leave for over a month. Late in the day, his Chief of Staff Rick Bryant released the following statement from an unnamed Jackson physician who is treating him:
"The Congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder. He is responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery."
Chief of Staff Bryant added, "In addition, the rumors about him being treated for alcohol or substance abuse is not true."