John McCain praised his running mate Sarah Palin and slammed Barack Obama for not taking on Illinois Democrats during a 16 minute fund-raising speech at the Chicago Hilton & Towers Monday night that netted over $4 million for the Republican nominee.
"The America people want change in Washington and they want the right kind of change. They are glad that someone like Gov. Sarah Palin has taken on her party and the special interests in Alaska. I have stood up against my party when I had to. And Sen. Obama has never once stood up to his party. You know that very well in the state of Illinois," McCain said, according to the Pool Report.
Though Palin wasn't at the event, she was a constant theme of McCain's remarks.
From Rick Pearson's account in the Tribune:
McCain also touted Palin's opposition to Alaska's now-infamous Bridge to Nowhere, though he did not mention the controversy surrounding her initial support for the project while she was a candidate for governor. Of her opposition, McCain said, "That's guts. That's guts."
But even as McCain sought to play up the buzz surrounding Palin, the GOP presidential candidate also acknowledged lingering concerns 10 days after selecting her by telling donors, "She was thoroughly vetted."
Crediting Palin's background on energy through her negotiations involving a planned $40 billion pipeline, McCain said it would bring natural gas from Alaska "down to the lower 40" instead of "lower 48."
Even attendees who paid upwards of $2,500 for dinner and a photo with McCain would so again if Palin came to Chicago, state Sen. Dan Rutherford told the Sun-Times' Abdon Pallasch.
"I think if they bring her back, separate from him, they would open up their checkbooks again," Rutherford said.
Around 200 people attended the general reception, while nearly 100 attended the two earlier, closed to the media events. McCain spoke for just under 16 minutes and left with over $4 million for Chicago-area supporters. The haul surpassed President Bush's 2004 Chicago fund-raiser, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz said.
"In 2004, George Bush raised $4 million and we've made more than that tonight."
John McCain comes to Chicago Monday on the first stop of a national four-city fund-raising tour.
The McCain camp expects to haul in close to $4 million from his Chicago event.
Local organizers of McCain's fundraising event at a downtown Chicago hotel said they expect to net a minimum of $4 million for the Arizona senator's campaign tonight. Event fees range from $1,000 for the general reception, $5,000 for a smaller reception and photo with the candidate and a $25,000 intimate dinner.
Ticket sales increased following Sarah Palin's vice presidential nomination, State Rep. Jim Durkin, the McCain campaign's Illinois chief, told the Tribune. Pailin, however, will not be at the fund-raiser. She's on her way to Ohio, for a joint appearance with McCain in the key swing state.
Lynn Sweet has the details:
McCain is expected to haul at least $2 million out of the city on Monday to be divided between the Republican National Committee and state parties in the key battle ground states of Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The "Road to Victory Tour" receptions moves from Chicago to Miami on Sept. 15 to Los Angeles on Oct. 1 to New York on Oct. 14.
*An individual pledging to raise $200,000 gets a "universal pass" to all four events and all perks.
*A pledge to raise $50,000 gets a VIP reception, four photo-op tickets, a reception and two tickets for a private dinner with McCain.