URBANA, Ill. -- Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, whose campaign for President Obama's former Senate seat has been rocked by the failure of his family's bank, said Monday he plans to appear with the president in Quincy this week.
In a brief announcement, Giannoulias' campaign said he will join other state officials Wednesday when Obama's "White House to Main Street Tour" stops in the Mississippi River community. However, he sounded slightly less certain of his plans at an afternoon campaign stop in Urbana.
"I actually think we are going to be there," Giannoulias said. Aides explained they were still rearranging his schedule to get Giannoulias to Quincy.
The appearance is considered good news for Giannoulias after the White House's silence fueled widespread speculation that Obama might not campaign for him.
On Friday, the same day regulators shut down Broadway Bank, the White House said Obama intended to help Illinois Democrats "up and down the ballot." But Giannoulias' campaign initially said he did not plan to be in Quincy.
His Republican opponent, Rep. Mark Kirk, has made the bank failure a central part of his campaign, raising questions about Giannoulias' competence and judgment. Giannoulias was a senior loan officer at the bank until he was elected treasurer four years ago.
Kirk stepped up the questions a few weeks ago after a published report that the bank had loaned $20 million to two convicted felons -- one convicted of running a multistate bookmaking ring and the other convicted of promoting a nationwide prostitution ring -- while Giannoulias worked there.
Giannoulias said no one from the Democratic Party has asked him to step aside because of the bank's problems, which he blamed on a bad economy and not bad management by his family.
"It's really tough to see a business that your father started more than 30 years ago close its doors," Giannoulias said in Urbana, adding that he doesn't expect the bank's failure to have serious campaign ramifications. "People understand how tough it is; people understand the community banks are struggling every single day."
He spoke to a handful of University of Illinois students at the Courier Cafe in downtown Urbana. They told him that, given the economy, few soon-to-graduate students expect to get jobs quickly.
"A lot of them, it's just, 'I don't know what to do so I'm going to go back and get my master's (degree),"' said senior Beth Frailey, 22, of Belvidere.
Giannoulias said he wants to make education a key area of focus during his campaign.