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Obama coming to town as homicide tally ready to surpass 2011’s

Updated: November 26, 2012 7:16AM

Chicago’s 2012 homicide count is closing in on 2011’s 12-month total with more than two months left in the year, and President Barack Obama might be here to see the key statistic tick above last year’s number.

Republicans could use the coincidental timing of Obama’s visit Thursday to cast an early ballot — and the possible topping of last year’s homicide tally of 433 killings — to attack the president. The blowback could have national implications in the Democratic president’s neck-and-neck contest with Republican challenger Mitt Romney with less than two weeks until Election Day.

Chicago has seen 426 homicides this year as of Wednesday afternoon, up about 25 percent from 341 at this time last year. Eight more killings would put the city above last year’s total.

The city’s violence, which already has drawn national attention, was noted by Obama in his second debate with Romney when he answered a question about limiting the availability of assault weapons.

“In my hometown of Chicago there’s an awful lot of violence,” Obama said, “and they’re not using AK-47s, they’re using cheap handguns.”

The number of homicides in Chicago skyrocketed during the first three months of the year, rising 66 percent compared with the same period last year. But police officials have pointed out that he city’s murder total for July was the third-lowest since 1987.

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who appeared before the City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday, attributed the decline in murders in July to a comprehensive gang-violence reduction strategy launched this year.

Contributing: Frank Main

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