Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dinner with Barack: The Mini Movies

Obama Campaign releases five new videos from inside President's dinner with contest winners...  
UPDATE, Jan. 6, 2012: CLICK TO READ: Second "Dinner with Barack" contest turns into lunch
President Obama this week announced the third "Dinner with Barack" contest to raise money for his 2012 re-election war chest. To build interest among donors, Obama for America released five new videos from inside the first contest dinner President Obama has completed, his meal on Oct. 27 at Liberty Tavern in Arlington, Virginia. The President's press pool was allowed into the dining room for less than one minute during the event for a rapid photo op, so the Campaign videos are the first extended look at what occurred as four "everyday Americans" broke bread with the Commander in Chief. The longest video is more than eight minutes long, and edited like a feature film. (Above, the President with from L Knight, Smith, Helbling, and Martinez).

The winners were Juanita Martinez, a retired teacher from Brighton, Colorado; Casey Helbling, a software entrepreneur and small-business owner from Minneapolis, Minn.; Ken Knight, a U.S. postal worker from Chandler, Arizona; and Wendi Smith, a retired professor and artist from Corydon, Indiana. Helbling is such a huge Obama supporter he named one of his children "Maxwell Barack," he revealed after the dinner. All had to sign documents agreeing to be used--without pay--in campaign materials. Each prize, taxable by the IRS, was valued at $1,075, and included air fare to DC and a one-night hotel stay for the guests. The prizes did not include make up and hair service for the winners, as they made their feature film debuts.



The dinner was just 70 minutes long; the guests declined the President's offer of dessert. The longest mini-movie, above, is titled "Dinner With Barack: Two Teachers, an Army Veteran, a Small Business Owner and The President." It's edited to build excitement, and shows the President's guests arriving in Washington and being wowed by the monuments, while discussing their thrill over the upcoming dinner with Mr. Obama. Then it transitions to the restaurant, and shows edited portions of the Presidential mealtime conversation. The other four videos are shorter vignettes of the table talk, edited by theme.

For the record, the President at dinner enjoyed the "Harpoon Caught Swordfish," which is regularly featured on The Liberty Tavern menu. It's served "Portuguese style," with white beans, sweet peppers, lamb sausage escarole, and Littleneck clam sauce ($22). He washed it down with iced tea, though his companions drank wine. Before this week's video releases, the four winners had previously dished about their dinner to various media outlets, as well as put out statements for Campaign HQ.



Above, in this 1:05-long clip, "Dinner With Barack: The Impact of My Father," the President is asked by one of his guests about the "negative impact" of not knowing his father, who left when he was a small child. It's the most moving of the videos.

"As I look back on my life, I only remember my father for one month of my whole life," President Obama said. "When I was ten."

His father, however, introduced him to all the things he became passionate about, the President said--among these basketball and jazz--and the absence made him realize how important it is to be a good father to daughters Malia and Sasha.



Above, in the 1:04-long "Dinner With Barack: A Typical Day," Mr. Obama discusses what might occur on any given day of the Presidency. The days are "packed," the President said, noting that he's "not a morning person." The last time he was awakened in the middle of the night for an emergency was for the Japan earthquake and tsunami, the President said, "probably around 3 in the morning."

"At 6:30, even if I'm really busy, I'll stop, go upstairs, and have dinner with the girls," the President said.



Above, in the 1:02-long "Dinner With Barack: Why Education Is important," the President and his guests discuss education issues, as the title implies.



Above, the final 52-second video is a teaser, billed as "Video Preview: Dinner with Barack." The President talks about the challenges of trick-or-treating in public with his daughters, now that he's Commander in Chief. Last time he "pulled it off," Mr. Obama said, was in 2007.

Other dinners...
The President will dine at a later date with four more donors from the Campaign's second contest, the "Dinner with Barack II" sweepstakes, held during fundraising quarter 3, July-September. The winners' names have not yet been released. In an interview in September, Campaign Deputy Press Secretary Katie Hogan told Obama Foodorama that there was no way to determine how many donors have actually given money in order to be entered in the dinner contests; she said that donations for the dinner contests were not specifically tracked, which seems hard to believe. Donors for the second and third contests were and are automatically entered into the dinner pool, but that was not the case for the first dinner contest. Entering the contests without donating is/was possible, too.

The third contest closes on December 31, and will have three winners, each of whom can bring a guest. The Campaign is already heavily promoting the third dinner contest, and this week sent a Thanksgiving e-mail to woo donors.

*Videos by OFA; photo by AP/Pool