Back on trail, Obama tries to recapture energy of 2008

President Obama admitted Thursday night that his first term in office has left him a little older and a little "dinged-up," but during his first appearance as a candidate for reelection, he said he was proud of what his administration has accomplished in two and a half years.

In a fundraising speech in his hometown of Chicago, Obama drew on the hopeful tone of his 2008 campaign while acknowledging that some of the sheen of his first presidential campaign was gone now.

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"I'm grayer and a little dinged-up," Obama said Thursday at a late evening speech at Chicago's Navy Pier after two closed-door fundraisers at local restaurants.

The latest poll numbers reflect some of the hits the president has taken. Obama's job approval stands at 42 percent in Gallup's daily survey, which is near his low point.

But Obama's language was laced with similar themes of hope and change that he focused on during his first campaign. Just like in 2008, he said his campaign wasn't about him but about a grassroots effort.

"I want to make sure we're putting the campaign in your hands," Obama said. "In this country we rise and fall together."

But Obama acknowledged that a few things were different.

"Some of us are a little bit grayer, but all of us can remember that [2008 election] night in the streets, the sense of hope, the sense of possibility," Obama said.

Obama also highlighted some of the accomplishments of his administration, such as passing healthcare reform and the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

"Because of you, we did what we've been trying to do for almost a century and we made sure that everybody in this society, if you get sick you don't have to go bankrupt," Obama said.

He also highlighted the recent drop in the unemployment rate under his watch.

"Over the last 13 months we’ve added nearly 2 million private-sector jobs," he said. "That didn’t happen by accident. It happened because we made some tough choices — like saving the American auto industry."

The president's speech was sprinkled with jokes. While talking about his first years in office, Obama called out a few of the unexpected world events that the White House has had to deal with.

"Along the way we had to deal with pirates," Obama said, in reference a hostage situation perpetrated by Somali bandits. "Who thought we'd have to deal with pirates? That wasn't in my campaign platform."

In April 2009, U.S. Navy SEALs rescued an American sea captain who was being held by pirates in the Indian Ocean, killing three of the hostage takers. Obama said at the time he had ordered the military intervention to halt the rise of piracy in the region.

Obama made the most of being home in Chicago. He was flanked at the speech by some local VIPs. The Democratic National Committee fundraiser featured Bulls star Derrick Rose, as well as Obama's former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who introduced him. 

On mentioning that Chicago was where he "grew up," the president seemed to take a jab at so-called "birthers" who argue Obama wasn't born in the United States.

"I wasn't born here. Just want to be clear ... I was born in Hawaii," Obama said to a laughing crowd. "But I became a man here in Chicago."

Throughout his speech, Obama stressed that his work was hardly finished.

"The question is, do we finish the job? I’m prepared to finish the job," Obama said. "I hope you are, too."

This post was updated at 10:00 a.m.