Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Behind The Scenes: President Obama's Birthday Party Fundraiser At His Chicago Family Home

Obama campaign releases audio recording from inside $40,000/person shindig: Contest winners dish on meeting the President...
The Florida pharmacist and Arizona probation officer who were the two lucky winners of Obama for America's online fundraising contest 'Barack's Birthday' were not allowed to talk to the media when they joined President Obama for the event at his Chicago home on Sunday, August 12. But Obama for America has newly released photos of the winners. And in a move that's new in the promotional quiver, the campaign also released a 3+ minute audio recording of the guests dishing on their meeting with the President--from inside his party. Each winner was allowed to bring a guest. Above: Mr. Obama with winner Kalestine Butler, the pharmacist, and her guest/sister, Karen Foster. OFA did not ID which woman was which.
The second winner, Sepp Sprietsma, the probation officer, brought his wife Lisa to the event, where about 100 guests had each paid $40,000 to party in the front yard of the President's three-story brick home in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Soft jazz plays in the background of the recording as the winners gush. Sprietsma said he donated $5 to win his spot.

"The two winners of the Barack's Birthday contest and their guests mingled on the lawn in disbelief," noted Obama for America. "For Kalestine and Sepp, meeting the President of the United States was a moment they'll never forget."

That's the gist of the audio content, where both winners call the party "unbelievable" and a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, the same language used by the campaign to woo contest entrants. The President can also be heard on the recording.

"I'm so grateful for everything you guys do day to day to support this campaign," the President tells the winners.

The house party was one of five fundraisers the President attended in Chicago on Sunday, where he raked in at least $6.4 million as he chided his GOP rivals for "fairy dust" economics.

The President gave Sprietsma a "handwritten note" for his two kids, the winner says in the audio. (Above: The President with Sprietsma and his wife)

The prize package included air fare to Chicago and a one-night hotel stay. The assigned retail value of $1,600 is taxable to winners, who also had to pass background checks and agree to be used in campaign promotional materials throughout eternity. They were selected from a pool of fifty entrants, according to the official rules of the contest, and had backgrounds that support the President's platform.

"Sepp works with the local juvenile court system in Arizona, and teaches GED classes in the evening. He supports President Obama because he is a strong leader who invests in America and fights to keep jobs here," the campaign said in a statment when revealing the winners' names.

"Kalestine has seen firsthand how important health care reform is, and she believes the President’s leadership will help us move forward on job creation and ending the war in Afghanistan."

First Lady Michelle Obama, who did not attend the event, announced the heavily promoted contest via e-mail on July 16, and the President, Vice President Joe Biden, and campaign aides all sent e-mails urging supporters to enter the contest. There was also a big push on Twitter. The contest entrants helped President Obama raise more than $75 million for the month of July, but he was still outraised by GOP rival Mitt Romney, who raised $101.3 million.

*The transcript of the President's remarks at the birthday event at his home.

The party invitation for the $40K donors: