Eater in Chief woos first-time youth voters with French fries...
President Obama on Thursday afternoon stopped by OMG! Burgers in south Miami, Florida for a quick late lunch that was not noted on his official schedule, but planned: He held a pre-arranged roundtable with three 20-year-old university students, all voting for the first time in this election. Arriving shortly before 4:00 PM, the President had a doubledecker American cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and ketchup ($6.49); French fries ($2.19); and a soda as he chatted with Maximo Soler, a senior at U of Miami; Emily Young, a junior at U of Miami; and Leslie Redmond, a junior at Barry University in Miami Shores. The thrilled eatery will be renaming Mr. Obama's burger "the Presidential Cheeseburger," the owner announced shortly after the visit ended.
"Dive in, guys," the President, his shirt sleeves rolled up, instructed his guests as the fries arrived and he popped some into his mouth.
The students the President dined with will sign a "Pledge to Vote" card, according to the campaign. The eat n' greet came after a 'Meet the Candidates' Town Hall hosted by Univision at the University of Miami. The President was surprised to discover that two of the students are paying $44,000 annually in tuition. The restaurant was half-filled with customers as the President quizzed his companions.
"Do you have your voter cards here?" President Obama asked. "I am going to make sure that everybody knows you're on the case here."
"You've got a lot of support in Miami," said Young, who is from Jacksonville.
Then Mr. Obama steered the conversation to student loans, saying "the stakes are so high" in the election. He noted that in the Univision Town Hall, "education was a big topic obviously." He said the future of Pell Grants and other federal loan programs hinged on the outcome of the election. The President then asked how much tuition is at the University of Miami.
"$44,0000," said Soler.
"$44,000?" the President Obama said--incredulously, pool reported. "Wow."
He talked about how his financing in college was in loans and grants.
"The ratio of loans to grants for your generation is much more likely to be loans," President Obama said.
Secret Service arrived at the eatery located at 5748 Sunset Drive about fifteen minutes ahead of the visit, said surprised owner Abiel Ballesteros, who happens to be a Cuban American and part of another voting bloc the President is aggressively wooing.
The President "was very cordial and nice and posed for pictures with anyone who asked," Ballesteros told Miami Herald. An aide paid cash for the meal, Ballestros said as he announced the name change for the President's cheeseburger.
"He made us famous for a day, so we really appreciate him coming to our restaurant," Ballestros said.
The President departed the burger joint at 4:47 PM, en route to Tampa for a fundraising reception at the home of Lisa DeBartolo
and her husband Donn Miggs, with a special performance by Eddie Vedder,
lead singer of Pearl Jam. Chef Tyler Florence was scheduled to cook. Tickets were $20,000 each and 85 guests were expected, according to a campaign official. UPDATE: CLICK HERE for details about the fundraiser.
DeBartolo is the executive vice president
of DeBartolo Holdings LLC and the daughter of Edward DeBartolo Jr., the
former owner of the San Francisco 49ers.
The daytrip to Florida is the President's tenth visit this year. He returns to the White House on Thursday night, and will campaign in Virginia on Friday.
Info: OMG! Burgers is located at 5748 Sunset Drive, Miami, Fl., 33143. Phone: 305-668-3770.
Obama for America offered this background on the President's roundtable:
"Following the Univision and Facebook “Meet the Candidate” town hall, President Obama will hold a roundtable with three first time voters in Miami at OMG Burger where he will discuss the importance of young Americans getting involved in the political process. All three students and first time voters are enrolled at schools in the Miami area and will sign a “Pledge to Vote” card. “Pledge to Vote” is an expansion of our “Pledge to Register” or “Pledge to Reg” program. The “Pledge to Reg” program was launched this past spring to encourage young Americans to register to vote and get involved in the political process. “Pledge to Vote” is an avenue for the campaign to follow up with young Americans who have pledged and registered to vote and then to get them to the polls on Election Day.
Maximo Soler, a first time voter
Maximo Soler is a 20 year old senior at the University of Miami majoring in Economics and minoring in Finance. He relies on a Pell Grant and other student loans to finance his education. Maximo was born in Virginia, but lived overseas for much of his life. Living outside the United States allowed Maximo to experience different types of governments and inspired him to get involved in with the Obama campaign. He currently serves as a phone bank captain at the University of Miami.
Maximo is volunteering for President Obama to make sure the progress continues on access to health care, college affordability and advancements in alternative energy.
Leslie Redmond, a first time voter
Leslie Redmond, a Washington, DC native, is a 20 year old junior at Barry University in Miami Shores majoring in Political Science and minoring in African Studies. While Leslie was too young to vote in 2008, she didn’t waste any time getting involved this year by helping register students on campus and educating her fellow out-of-state students on the importance of registering and voting in Florida.
Leslie is inspired by President Obama’s vision for health care in this country and supports his commitment to supporting everyday Americans like herself.
Emily Young, a first time voter
A Jacksonville, FL native, Emily Young is a 20 year old junior at the University of Miami majoring in Political Science and Public Relations. She relies on scholarships and student loans to pay for her education. Before Emily could even vote, she was involved in the 2008 campaign encouraging those in her community to vote for the President on her behalf. In high school, Emily registered to vote the first day she could and was involved in helping her classmates register as well. Emily is currently a campus team leader at the University of Miami.
Emily supports the President’s commitment to making education more affordable and values the actions President Obama took to help all Americans afford quality health care."
*Top photo by Jen Psaki/Obama for America