At rallies, Obama casts 2014 as key for his legacy

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At rallies, Obama casts 2014 as key for his legacy
In this photo taken Oct. 20, 2014, President Barack Obama votes next to Aia Cooper at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center in Chicago. As Cooper was voting next to Obama her boyfriend, Mike Jones, decided to crack wise: "Mr. President, don't touch my girlfriend." Obama, laughing, replied: "There's an example of a brother just embarrassing me for no reason." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
An election worker watches as President Barack Obama, right, begins to vote at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center during early voting for the midterm election Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in Chicago. Obama took a break from campaigning for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., to cast an early ballot for the election. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama arrives to vote early at Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center in the midterm elections on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in Chicago. Obama took a break from campaigning for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., to cast an early ballot for the election. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama addresses the crowd during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
President Barack Obama addresses the crowd during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, center, stands with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, and Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., during a campaign rally at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama waves as he steps out of Air Force One upon arriving at JFK International Airport Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama salutes military personnel as he walks down the stairs from Air Force One upon arrival at JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Marine One, with President Barack Obama aboard, leaves JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. The president is in New York to attend fundraisers. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama, salutes Marines honor guards as he disembarks from Marine One to switch to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, for a trip to New York City and Greenwich, Conn. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama signs the Improving Medicare Post Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), legislation on quality measures for nursing home and home health patients, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama smiles after signing the Improving Medicare Post Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), legislation on quality measures for nursing home and home health patients, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. With him from left are Arilma St. Clair, president of the DC Chapter of the National Assoc. of Hispanic Nurses, Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association President, Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., Jean Moody Williams, CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality Deputy Director, and Larry Minnix, CEO and President of Leading Age. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. From left are, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the president and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama speaks at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. President Obama paid tribute to disabled U.S. veterans on Sunday, pointing to the dedication of a new memorial honoring those severely injured in war as a symbol of the nation's perseverance and character. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication ceremony of the American Veterrans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington. (Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - Arthur Wilson, President of DVLMF, left, President Barack Obama, Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, Lois Pope Chairman of the DVLMF and Robert Vogel Superintendent , National Mall and Memorial Parks, attend the dedication ceremony of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington.(Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
First lady Michelle Obama applauds after speaking at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Ind., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, where he spoke about the economy. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
President Barack Obama works the rope line after delivering remarks at Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
First lady Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - President Barack Obama, left, greets Lois Pope, Chairman DVLMF during the dedication ceremony of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington.(Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
US President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press after a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama met with the national security team and senior staff on stopping the outbreak of Ebola. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
First lady Michelle Obama and Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke wave during a at a campaign event for Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
FILE - This April 28, 2014 file photo showsU.S. President Barack Obama toasting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, right, during a state dinner at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, following the signing of the Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The Obama administration is still chipping away at its grand plan for a rebalance to Asia that began within months of Obama taking office in 2009, when the U.S. signed a cooperation treaty with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (AP Photo/Francis R. Malasig, Pool)
President Barack Obama greets actor Gary Sinise, right, during the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. President Obama paid tribute to disabled U.S. veterans on Sunday, pointing to the dedication of a new memorial honoring those severely injured in war as a symbol of the nation's perseverance and character. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 7: First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke during a campaign rally at the Overture Center October 7, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. First lady Michelle Obama returned to Wisconsin to campaign for Democrat Mary Burke, who is running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November elections. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 7: First lady Michelle Obama (4th L) greets supporters at a campaign rally for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (R) at the Overture Center October 7, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. First lady Michelle Obama returned to Wisconsin to campaign for Democrat Mary Burke, who is running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November elections. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
First lady Michelle Obama acknowledges the crowd at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Jennifer Beall, founder & CEO of CleanBeeBaby, an eco-friendly cleaning service for strollers and car seats, listens as Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion with business leaders about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP PhotoNick Ut)
Vice President Joe Biden joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a roundtable discussion with business leaders about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Biden is on a six-city swing that includes stops in Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington state. (AP PhotoNick Ut)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks to students faculty and staff at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
President Barack Obama pauses in his speech during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
President Barack Obama shakes hands with supporters during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, center, stands with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, and Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., during a campaign rally at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, left, embraces Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn after an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
President Barack Obama, center, stands with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, right, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, center, stands with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, left, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
President Barack Obama addresses the crowd during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Members of the audience applaud President Barack Obama during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Audience members cheer before the arrival of President Barack Obama to a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, right, and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wave to the crowd during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
President Barack Obama, right, and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wave to the crowd during an early voting and campaign rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at Chicago State University Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. Early voting in Illinois starts Monday for the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2104 file photo, President Barack Obama votes early for the midterm election at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center in Chicago. President Barack Obama is hitting the black radio airwaves to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drumming up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don’t want him around in person. Black turnout will be vital if Democrats are to hope for victory in states like Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina that will help determine control of the Senate. And Obama remains beloved among black voters even if candidates in those races are running away from him amid low approval ratings overall. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
President Barack Obama, left, cast a ballot for the 2014 midterm elections at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center while participating in early voting on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in Chicago. Obama took a break from campaigning for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., to cast an early ballot for the election. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama cast a ballot at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in Chicago, while participating in early voting. Obama took a break from campaigning for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., to cast an early ballot for the 2014 midterm elections. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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CHICAGO (AP) - Marching onto the campaign trail for the first time this year, President Barack Obama cast Democrats' success in this year's midterm elections as a chance to further the policies he's fought for in the White House. "Don't give up now," he said. "Not after we've made this much progress."

Returning to the accepting embrace of his home state of Illinois, Obama told voters that Republicans mean well, but "just have bad ideas." He accused the GOP of recycling those ideas over and over, urging voters to take their future into their own hands by showing up Nov. 4 - and electing Democrats.

"The power to move our society, our government, it really is in your hands," Obama said during a rally for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn that doubled as a homecoming for the president. "You're the reason that I had the audacity to actually run for president of the United States."

Echoing many of the same themes as his own 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Obama said Democrats were fighting to give women equal pay, give children a good education and give all Americans access to decent health care. He contrasted that with the policies of Republicans, whom he claimed were living in the 1950s and belong "in a 'Mad Men' episode."

Obama's rallies Sunday in Chicago and Maryland marked his first major foray into the 2014 midterm elections. Obama was supposed to rally last week in Connecticut for Gov. Dannel Malloy, but postponed that visit to focus on Ebola.

Though limited in his ability to help his party this year, Obama has sought to use his own policies, like a minimum wage hike, to frame an economic message that can lift up Democratic candidates across the country. In radio ads and other appearances, Obama has also sought to rev up the same voting blocs that helped elect him twice - including minorities, women and young people - in hopes they'll show up this year even without Obama on the ballot.

Although Obama has raised money for Democrats this year at a feverish pace, he's stayed away from appearing in public with candidates - due in large part to his sagging approval ratings in key states. Obama will rally in the coming weeks for another half-dozen Democratic candidates for governor, but is not venturing into the conservative-leaning states where Democrats are fighting their toughest Senate races.

"We're in the fight of our lives for the soul of Illinois' democracy. They may have more money," Quinn said of his opponent, Republican Bruce Rauner. "But we've got President Barack Obama."

Hours earlier, a much more muted Obama was at another rally - this one at a high school just east of Washington - seeking votes for Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in his bid for the state's top job.

Roughly 8,000 people packed a high school gymnasium - with more in an overflow crowd next-door - where Obama adopted his party's mantra for this election season by claiming the midterms would come down to one thing: "Who is going to fight for you?"

"The Republican Party can keep telling you what they're against," Obama said, riffing off a long list: affordable health care, immigration reform, action on climate change, to name a few. "But the good news is Democrats keep telling you what things we're for."

Obama's rally for Brown had the feeling of a gospel service, and a local pastor opened by noting that the slaves who helped build the White House could have never anticipated that one of their own would one day occupy the home, evoking chants of "amen" from the audience. One speaker suggested that Brown, if elected, would be a leader in the model of Obama himself, while others denounced Republican moves to tighten voting restrictions as an attempt to stifle the black vote.

Support for Obama still runs high in Democratic-leaning Maryland - and especially in Prince George's County, a heavily African-American corner of the state and Brown's home base. Roughly 9 in 10 voters in the county backed Obama in 2008. Just next to the high school where Obama held his rally sits Barack Obama Elementary School.

Illinois, too, is about as safe as territory gets for Obama these days. The president remains popular here, and Quinn has also gotten a boost from Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama.

But unlike in Maryland, where Brown has held a healthy lead over his opponent, the race in Illinois is tighter, in large part due to Quinn's low popularity. Like Brown, Quinn is counting on black voters who still support Obama to turn out Nov. 4 to secure his re-election.

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