Friday, June 15, 2012

President Obama Lunches With 'Dinner with Barack' Winners At DC's Lincoln Restaurant

President's guests are a firefighter, a homemaker, a realtor and a GM employee; he laments that Father's Day is "a forgotten holiday"...
UPDATE, June 19: The menu
As his Administration sidestepped Congress by announcing a new immigration policy on Friday, President Obama took the four "grassroots" winners of an online fundraising contest to Washington, DC's Lincoln Restaurant, which has the motto "food by the people for the people." The three women and one man participated in the fourth 'Dinner with Barack' contest, and were selected following a big push to encourage supporters to make repeat donations of as little as $1 during the entry period in late February and March. The President arrived at 12:17 PM at the seasonal, small-plates eatery at 1110 Vermont Avenue NW, which is located just blocks from the White House. (Above: The President and his companions)

The President's guests were Janet Jones, 64, a grandmother from Accokeek, Maryland, whom Obama 2012 spotlighted in blogposts as the first winner of the contest; Paula Matyas, a retired GM auto worker from Milford, Michigan; Jim Heath, a firefighter from Aurora, Ohio; and Wyndi Austin, a realtor from Gilbert, Arizona. Joined by loads of other supporters, their donations helped Obama 2012 raise $53 million in March, the highest figure for the financial quarter.

Gathered around a dark wood table where no food had been served, the President, in his shirtsleeves, was overheard discussing Father's Day during a brief photo op. He lamented that families make a bigger deal of Mother's Day, for which First Lady Michelle Obama has rebuked him, he said.

"There was one year that I got a tie or something and I said why is it that everybody makes a big deal about Mother's day and Father's Day seems to be the forgotten holiday?" President Obama said.

"And Michelle looks at me and she says, 'let me tell you what, every day is Father's day. You're always getting a treat.'"

Mrs. Obama this week e-mailed supporters asking for campaign donations as they sign a Father's Day card for the President.

The President also discussed the Tuskegee Airmen biopic film Red Tails with Jones; her grandfather, Milton, 86, was a member of the WWII squadron. The President hosted a White House screening with the film's stars earlier this year.

Lincoln's menu features the President's preferred luncheon item, a cheeseburger. The Lincoln Burger has Meyer Farms Beef, watercress, firefly goat cheese, and roasted tomatoes ($16). Artisanal fare, such as a Cornmeal Crusted Oyster Po-Boy, Crab Grilled Cheese, Local Crab Hush Puppies, and Lobster Pea Risotto Balls are also served. The Chicken Pot Pie ($14) is a signature dish. Corporate Executive Chef is Demetrio Zavala, who promises "a celebration of local and regional farmers, bringing the freshest seasonal ingredients to your table." The lunch menu.

The restaurant was closed to the public so campaign aides could film promotional videos, and lunch was quick: The President was due back at the White House for a scheduled 1:15 PM Rose Garden statement about the immigration announcement, but he arrived at 1:35 PM. The event comes on the heels of Thursday night's glamorous multi-million dollar fundraising dinner with celebrities at Sarah Jessica Parker's New York home, where a different contest winner also joined the fun. (Above: Production lights for the filming are visible in the photo)

Friday's lunch will be the last local meal with donors for the 'Dinner with Barack' contests; winners of 'Dinner with Barack V', currently seeking entries, will be flown to meet the President somewhere on the campaign trail.

Crowds rapidly gathered outside the restaurant, attracted by the President's motorcade. Four DC dump trucks with snow plows attached blocked the street. On Wednesday, the President also inspired crowds when he celebrated Father's Day early, with a luncheon for four local Dads at DC's Kenny's BBQ Smokehouse.

Contest helps raise $53 million in March...
In a change from the three previous 'Dinner with Barack' contests, winners for IV were selected on four different dates in a process designed to build excitement and encourage repeat donations. The contest opened on Feb. 21, and selections took place on Feb. 22, March 3, March 18, and March 31. Supporters were encouraged to donate again and again if they did not win with a first donation, with e-mails from the President, Mrs. Obama, and aides. featured a countdown clock to the contest deadline to build excitement (above).

The push helped the President raise a total of $53 million for March, the highest amount for the financial quarter.

The prize package--taxable to the winners--has an assigned retail value of $1,150, which includes round-trip coach-class airfare and a one-night hotel stay. The dinner is valued at $200; the airfare is valued at $800 and the hotel stay is valued at $150. Winners also had to pass background checks and agree to be used throughout all eternity in campaign promotional materials.

The other 'Dinner with Barack' contests...
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 also fulfilled with a luncheon; the President took his four winners to DC's Scion restaurant on January 6, 2012. On March 8th, for the third contest, the President and Mrs. Obama dined at DC's Boundary Road restaurant with three winners who were each allowed to bring a guest.

*Click here for all posts about the 'Dinner with Barack" contests.

From the White House, the winners' bios:

JANET JONES, Retired/homemaker, Accokeek, MD Janet is the mother of four adult children and stays at home to take care of her 86 year-old father, who was a Tuskegee Airman in WWII, and her husband who has stage-4 prostate cancer. They’ve been fortunate to have full health insurance coverage but have seen firsthand why insurance reform and health care for all is so important. (Above: Janet's photo from OFA, featured in the blogposts about her winning the contest)

JIM HEATH, Firefighter, Aurora, OH: Jim is married to a teacher and has two boys. He has been a firefighter for over a decade and was a lifelong Republican, mainly because he was raised as such, but as he explored the issues and how they actually impacted him and his family, Jim found himself moving to the Democratic platform. Jim believes that the tax system should be simplified but that millionaires should pay their fair share as they can afford it more than someone like him.

WYNDI AUSTIN, Director of Marketing for Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors, Gilbert, AZ Wyndi and her husband voted for the first time in 2008. Due to the state of the economy and the world in general, they realized they could no longer sit on the sidelines and they knew their vote could make a difference. Despite living in a primarily conservative area, they cast their vote for President Obama and have supported him ever since. Healthcare is of the utmost importance to Austin as she feels affordable care is a necessity, not a luxury.

PAULA MATYAS, Retired General Motors autoworker, Milford, MI Paula is a third generation Michigander with three adult boys who all also live in Michigan. She comes from an auto family – her grandfather emigrated from Hungary and worked at a Ford manufacturing plant, her father was a traveling tool and die maker, and she worked at GM for nearly thirty years. While Matyas had retired before the auto recovery, she appreciates the difficult decision that the President made to save the industry because it was vital to the state of Michigan and to their economy.


Info: Lincoln Restaurant is at 1110 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC, 2005. Phone: 202-386-9200.

*Photos by Getty/Pool.