Mitt Romney in Chicago, Elk Grove Village
August 7, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Mitt Romney attended two private fundraisers in downtown Chicago Tuesday evening during an unexpected campaign stop.
Earlier Tuesday, the presumptive Republican nominee made a last-minute campaign stop at a business in Elk Grove Village.
Some are asking why Romney would spend time campaigning in a state where President Obama is believed to hold a wide lead.
ABC7 political reporter Charles Thomas learned that the plans for the campaign event in Elk Grove Village were not finalized until late Sunday. Romney, whose core mission was to raise money Tuesday in the Chicago area, appeared at a manufacturing company to make his points about President Obama's handling of the economy.
"President Obama is simply out of ideas, he's out of excuses and Illinois needs to help me make sure that in November we put him out of office," said Romney.
Above the din inside the Acme Industries precision parts factory, Romney repeated his claim that after three-and-a-half years of 8 percent-plus unemployment, President Obama's economic policies are not working.
"The median income of an American family is down $4,000 a year since President Obama has been president," said Romney.
Even so, Acme Industries CEO Warren Young, an ardent Romney supporter, reports the company's sales increased 80 percent in the past year, and the factory has hired new workers.
"I think that's an indication that the Obama policies are working rather than the opposite," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston).
Young said he believed his business would do even better under Romney.
Romney said he is praying for the six people killed by a gunman at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and asked supporters at ACME Industries to do the same.
Six worshipers were killed when the gunman opened fire on Sunday. Romney said the shooter, 40-year-old Army veteran Wade Michael Page, was "motivated by hate" and that Sikhs are peaceful and loving. Page, who was a member of a white supremacist heavy metal bands, was killed by police.
The Republican presidential candidate then asked for a moment of silence, before transitioning to a discussion about restoring manufacturing jobs and criticizing President Barack Obama's economic policies, blaming them for the U.S. high unemployment rate.
"The American middle class is struggling under this president. If we were to re-elect him you'd see more chronic unemployment, continuing wage decline or stagnation and, of course, an economy on the verge of economic crisis given the massive debt we have," Romney said.
Romney left Elk Grove Village for downtown Chicago and two fundraisers. The former Massachusetts governor raised more money than the president in July amid reports that some high-dollar 2008 Obama donors had switched to Romney in 2012.
"There's been a complete turnaround in the donor base here in Illinois from Obama to Romney. And I've been to all these events and I see a lot of Obama donors," said Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party.
Romney's audience at Acme Industries was predominantly white and suburban. Kevin Suggs, one of a handful of African-Americans at the event, liked Romney's plan for the economy.
"It's all about the middle class and the middle class is made up of Latinos and African-Americans and all of the other ethnicities, so we do need to diversify more within the party," said Suggs.
In Elk Grove Village, Romney accused the Obama administration of gutting welfare reform by allowing some recipients to collect benefits without working for them.
"That is wrong; if I'm president, I'll put work back in welfare," said Romney.
The White House reacted quickly to the welfare charge. Obama spokesman Jay Carney called Romney's claim "dishonest". Carney said several Republican governors requested that the welfare rules be changed in their states.
Despite some polls suggesting Romney trails in the president's home state by double digits, the Republican showed Tuesday he will campaign here as well as raise money. Romney was set to make stops Tuesday night at fundraisers at Harry Caray's and Maggiano's in downtown Chicago.
politics, charles thomas
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