US President Barack Obama warned supporters on Sunday that he was no Usain Bolt, and that his re-election bid would be a fight all the way to the finish line, not an easy jog to victory.
Obama ushered well-heeled supporters into his Georgian-style mansion in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood for a rare glimpse of the home he left behind when he won the White House in 2008.
He offered a pep talk to the crowd of about 100 of Chicago’s elite, who had paid US$40,000 a head for the exclusive invitation designed to swell his campaign coffers ahead of the presidential election on Nov. 6.
The president predicted a tight struggle with Republican presumptive presidential candidate Mitt Romney as he asks voters for a second term.
“This is not going to be a race like Usain Bolt where we’re like 40 yards [36.6m] ahead and we can just kind of start jogging 10 feet [3m] before the finish line,” Obama said, referencing the Jamaican legend, who has won the 100m and 200m sprint double at the last two Olympics.
“We’re going to have to run through the tape, but we’re really well-positioned to not just win, but to keep America moving forward,” he said.
The president stood against a backdrop of conifers and Christmas trees in the well-kept front yard of his three-story red brick mansion in an appearance that offered reporters an unprecedented close look at his home.
Obama rarely returns to Chicago and has spent only about nine nights in his own house since he moved to the White House in Washington in January 2009, and is hoping that he will not have to return permanently early next year.
“Every election, presidents or candidates will say: This is the most important election of my lifetime,’” he said, before joking: “This is the most important election of my lifetime.”
“This year, you have a stark choice, as stark as we’ve seen in a generation, at least,” Obama said on a small, hedge-fringed stage set up on his lush front lawn.
“On behalf of Michelle and myself, I want to thank you, but I also want to warn you: This is going to be a close election. We’ve got 86 days left. Now is not the time to get weary. Now is the time to double down,” he said.
The curtains of the president’s mansion were drawn, so it was not possible to see inside the house, framed by an ornate porch with white columns.
However, in one quirky note, the home, surely one of the most protected residences in the world, bore a sticker in a window saying it was protected by ADT, a top US home security firm.