Happy Birthday Mr President: Obama’s 50th bash tonight
Fresh from signing a bill to allow the United States to continue borrowing money, President Barack Obama will tonight celebrate his 50th birthday by raising funds to boost his chances of re-election in 2012.
The swankiest of two events, at the Aragon Ballroom in his home town Chicago, costs from $50 to $35,800 a person and will feature performances by Herbie Hancock and Jennifer Hudson.
Proceeds will be split between the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The president's remarks from the party will be beamed into satellite parties being held by supporters around the country.
In a recruitment drive called "50 for 50", activists were asked to sign up 50 new people to win a chance to attend one of the Chicago bashes, and were also given the chance to donate to the campaign.
Despite worsening poll numbers, Mr Obama raised a record $86 million in the second quarter of this year and is forecast to exceed the $700 million raised in his successful 2008 campaign.
Tea Party protesters plan to congregate opposite the ballroom for a "jobs bash" designed to highlight the struggling economy and high unemployment.
It is being organised by William Kelly, who runs a television production company. "All of my friends are out of work," he told the Washington Times. "The president is out here trying to raise money to get reelected, and we want real Americans to have jobs."
Mr Obama's actual birthday is on Thursday, but he plans to fly back to Washington on Wednesday night. Aides have not released details of his plans for the day itself. As the debate over a debt deal dragged on, it seemed he might have to miss the celebrations in Chicago.
"I feel real good about 5-0," he said recently. "I've got a little greyer since I took this job, but otherwise, I feel pretty good."
Mr Obama added that his wife, Michelle, has told him that she still thinks "I'm cute".
"And I guess that's, that's all that matters, isn't?" he said.
The White House announced the president will attend anniversary ceremonies on September 11 at the three sites where terrorists launched their deadly US attacks a decade ago.