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Surrogate-in-Chief Hits The Campaign Trail

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama takes to the campaign trail once again Thursday, making stops in Maryland to campaign for Gov. Martin O’Malley, followed by a trip to Chicago to lend his support to Senate contender Alexi Giannoulias.

Why the Chicago trip? It’s Obama’s second in two months to campaign for Giannoulias, who is vying for Obama’s old Senate seat, and first lady Michelle Obama plans to give the Democrat a boost when she visits next week.

Months ago it looked like Republican Rep. Mark Kirk was in a comfortable spot, particularly after the bank Giannoulias’ family owned was shut down this spring. But Kirk had his own stumbles and failed to take full advantage of the summer months to campaign. Recent polls show the race to be a virtual dead heat. As Bloomberg’s John McCormick and Roger Runningen report: “The first family’s efforts illustrate the struggle polls show Democrats face in keeping control of all statewide offices in Illinois. Their visits could rekindle local interest in the Senate race that has faded amid an unexpected mayoral race that may feature Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.…Mark Kirk, the Republican nominee, and Giannoulias have spent much of their campaign debating who is the more scandalized.”

Why Maryland? To begin with, the state is still Obama territory, at least much more so than much of the rest of the country. "The president is going there because Maryland is one place where he should be able to fire up the base and get them engaged," said Jennifer Duffy, senior analyst with the Cook Political Report. Recent polls give O’Malley an edge over Ehrlich. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Congressman Chris Van Hollen are also expected to attend the rally.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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