Repeat donations from contest hopefuls helped raise $53 million in March...
UPDATE: CLICK HERE for the post about the lunch
On the heels of Thursday's glamorous multi-million dollar fundraising dinner with celebrities at Sarah Jessica Parker's New York home, President Obama will have lunch on Friday with four "grassroots supporters" who are the winners of the fourth fundraising dinner contest run by Obama for America, 'Dinner with Barack IV,' the White House has announced. The winners were gleaned from a big push to woo supporters to make repeat donations of as little as $1 during the contest entry period from Feb. 21 to March 31. Guests at Parker's dinner paid $40,000 each to rub elbows with the President and First Lady Michelle Obama.
The White House has not yet announced the restaurant where the President and his guests will dine. But the luncheon will be his last local meal with donors; the 'Dinner with Barack V' contest, currently seeking entries, will have the winners flown to meet the President somewhere on the campaign trail.
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. Selections took place on Feb. 22, March 3, March 18, and March 31, and supporters were encouraged to donate again and again if they did not win with a first donation. There was even a countdown clock to the contest deadline on BarackObama.com (above).
The push helped the President raise a total of $53 million for March, the highest amount for the financial quarter.
Obama for America has (sort of) revealed the identities of two of the President's lucky guests. The first winner chosen is identified as "Janet, from Accokeek, Maryland." She's a 64-year-old grandmother of four. The campaign revealed that her father, Milton, 86, was a Tuskegee Airman, and her husband is battling cancer. She's a good choice: It gives the President the opportunity to discuss his healthcare efforts and his military achievements. (Above: Janet)
Another winner is "Paula," described on BarackObama.com as "a retired GM autoworker and third-generation Michigander." That's a nice choice, too, since the President "saved" the company.
"These meals are one simple thing that sets this campaign apart," President Obama wrote in an e-mail announcing the contest. First Lady Michelle Obama also e-mailed supporters, urging them to enter.
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 must also pass background checks and agree to be used throughout all eternity in campaign promotional materials.
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. 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.
*Photo by Christopher Dilts/Obama for America; the President enjoys a cheeseburger and fries at the second Dinner with Barack event, which was also a luncheon.