The Campaign's new symbol of citizen engagement represents key voting blocs, and she's working out to look terrific for her Presidential dinner...
The first winner of the Dinner with Barack IV sweepstakes, a 64-year-old grandmother of four identified by the campaign as "Janet, from Accokeek, Maryland," has already gotten as much play from Obama for America as the eight contest winners who have joined President Obama during previous dinner fundraisers. OFA previously kept the identities of winners secret until after they'd dined with the President, but Janet was introduced to America last week, and there are now more details about her on OFA's blog--including her photo (above). Janet's father, Milton, 86, was a Tuskegee Airman; her husband is battling cancer.
As a symbol of voters and issues crucial to the President's re-election effort, Janet is a quintuple threat: She's African American, she's a woman, she's a senior citizen, she's from a military family, and soon we'll all be hearing about how her husband has benefited from the President's efforts with health care reform.
OFA offers homey gossip about Janet: She actually screamed when she found out she'd won her seat at the President's table, so now she's working on self control for the dinner.
"I'm going to be praying that God will give me the right attitude, because I get very talkative, and I want to be quieter and enjoy the moment. I'm going to practice silence," Janet said.
Janet has also started a new fitness regime in order to prep for her date with destiny, which she won by donating $25: "Sit-ups, push-ups, 100 a day! I want to be healthy and looking good," Janet said. Perhaps she's hoping to meet First Lady Obama, the reigning queen of push ups.
Janet's family has also had a running joke about dining with the President and First Lady Obama, OFA reports. As for Janet's papa, Milton, the Tuskegee vet? The President--coincidentally?--welcomed a group of Tuskegee Airmen to the White House in February, for a special screening of the biopic "Red Tails." The President e-mailed supporters on Monday evening, asking them to enter the current dinner contest.
Janet sent an e-mail to supporters this weekend, encouraging them to enter the contest (just $3), which has a staggered selection process to inspire repeat donations. The winner for dinner Seat #2 has supposedly been selected, and seats #3 and #4 will be chosen on March 18 and March 31.
He has already dined with the eight winners of two of the previous "Dinner with Barack" contests, but has not yet dined with the six winners of the "Dinner with Barack and Michelle" contest. The President ate dinner with the four winners of the first "Dinner with Barack" contest in October of 2011, at The Liberty Tavern in Arlington, VA. The second dinner contest was fulfilled with a luncheon; the President took his four winners to DC's Scion restaurant on January 6, 2012. A new video about the event is here. The dinner prize packages include airfare and a one-night hotel stay, and the assigned retail value is taxable to winners, who also sign documents agreeing to be used without compensation in campaign promos.
OFA's blog post about Janet:
For Janet, a running joke in her family took on a different meaning last week when she found out she had been chosen as the first guest at the next round of Dinner with Barack.
"Every time I get together for a meal with my sister and cousins, we say 'Oh, we should have President Obama and the First Lady over.' We joke that we're going to pick them up and bring 'em over. We've been playing like that for years: 'Let me just call Barack and Michelle and see if they'll come.' And then I find out I'm going to have dinner with the President—and I don't even have to cook! I tell you what: The tables have turned."
Janet, a grandmother from Accokeek, Maryland, got the news on her way home from a car trip.
"I was in the supermarket parking lot when I found out," she explains. "I was driving down from New York and I started to get really hungry, so I pulled off and got some things to eat. Then all of a sudden my phone rang. I had to boot it out of there so I could stand in the parking lot and scream. I was floored. I felt like I was in a hot air balloon just sailing over everything.
"I was so surprised. I wanted to support the President's second term, so I gave not knowing I had entered into a contest. I just had a desire to give, and as a result I have the ability to sit down and dine with President Obama—that's a blessing. I was getting emails from people in the campaign, and I clicked on one that offered the chance to donate. I saw the block that said donate, so I clicked on it."
When asked what she plans to do in preparation for Dinner with Barack, Janet doesn't miss a beat:
"Sit-ups, push-ups, 100 a day! I want to be healthy and looking good. And I'm going to be praying that God will give me the right attitude, because I get very talkative, and I want to be quieter and enjoy the moment. I'm going to practice silence. I'm going shopping. I'm going to continue to take care of my husband, who is fighting cancer. And I'm going to relax and try to get ready."
She has this advice for anyone deciding whether to pitch in and support the campaign:
"My dad is a Tuskegee Airman. He always says 'Support your leaders and listen to their voices, and in turn, they'll listen to yours.' Turns out he was right about that."
Enter today for your chance to join Janet at Dinner with Barack.
*Photo by Obama for America