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Obama returns home to Chicago to rally Democrats for Pat Quinn

Last Updated Oct 20, 2014 12:41 PM EDT

President Obama's second public rally of 2014 midterm election took him to familiar turf: the south side of Chicago.

"It's good to be home!" the president shouted to an adoring crowd at the Chicago State University Jones Convocation Center Sunday night. They responded in kind with roaring cheers of support back.

Mr. Obama was on the campaign trail over the weekend for the first time this year. He rallied supporters in the Windy City for incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, telling them that Quinn "is real."

"He is who he is. He's not trying to front. He's not trying to pretend he's something he's not. He remembers where he came from. He's fighting for you every single day and that's why you gotta have his back," the president said.

Earlier Sunday President Obama attended a rally of 8,000 supporters for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. Unlike Brown, who is ahead in the polls, Quinn is in a tight race against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.

Recent numbers show the unpopular Quinn just three points ahead of his challenger. And while many midterm candidates have been distancing themselves from the president as his approval numbers sag, Quinn embraced not only the president, but the Affordable Care Act.

"Everybody who gathered together in his campaigns, all of us understand that democracy is about banding together for causes we believe in" he said. "They may have more money, but we've got President Barack Obama. President Obama understands very well the important of standing for something when you run for office. And our president stood fast on behalf of decent healthcare for everybody."

According to the most recent CBS News polls, President Obama's approval rating stands at 42 percent, with 50 percent of Americans disapproving of the job he is doing. In Illinois, however, the most recent poll from the Chicago Times shows 52 percent approve of the job he is doing with only 40 percent disapproving - though it was taken before the Ebola virus outbreak reached the U.S.

It's this type of hometown love for the Mr. Obama that Quinn is counting to put him over the top Election Day. University of Illinois-Springfield Political Science Professor Kent Redfield told CBS News, "If [Quinn] wins it's because he got the base energized."

The White House isn't holding back on resources to make that happen, sending first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden to campaign with Quinn as well.

Sunday's indoor early voter rally boasted more than 6,000 attendees, a smaller number from a similar outdoor early voting rally four years ago when 35,000 people showed up.

With a few more gray hairs than he had in 2010 -- but still feeling then energy of the crowd -- the president criticized Republicans for what he says are out-of-date ideas from the 1950's and reminiscent of the TV show "Mad Men."

"If we're going to strengthen the middle class for the 21st century, we've got to have leaders from the 21st century, not the 1950s. Let's make sure women are paid fairly. Let's make sure women can take some time off to take care of a sick kid or a sick parent. Let's make sure every woman controls her own health care decisions -- not some politician," he said. "We've got to do away with politicians who belong in a "Mad Men" episode. Because when women succeed, America succeeds."

He got the loudest crowd reaction when he returned to theme of hope and change from his first presidential campaign, encouraging voters to reject cynicism.

"You taught me hope is a better choice. I learned that right here," Mr. Obama said.

He encouraged supporters to get their friends to the polls vote for the Governor -- something he promised to do when he casts his ballot Monday morning as early voting in Illinois gets underway. A new law that applies just to the 2014 election will allow people who vote early to do so without a photo ID, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sunday marked the president's first day of public events on the campaign trail after months of sticking to the fundraising circuit to avoid dragging down Democrats in states where his approval ratings are lower. He will make appearances in mostly blue states, including a stop for Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy that had to be rescheduled after Mr. Obama cancelled the trip to deal with the current Ebola crisis.

This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the law that allows early voters not to show an ID applies to the 2014 election only.