Friday, September 30, 2011

President Obama Fundraises At Georgetown Dinner: Everybody Must "Re-Engage"

Transcript: Time for a return to 2008's "fierce urgency"
President Obama gave his final fundraising pitch for this quarter on Friday evening at the historic, seven-bedroom Georgetown home of Dr. James D'Orta, a Washington physician and Democratic Party fundraiser. Sixty guests attended the event, according to a DNC official, paying between $10,000 to $35,800 depending on the level of engagement with the President. Mr. Obama spoke about his successes, and then described the 2012 election as more crucial than the 2008 election, a theme First Lady Obama was repeating almost at the same moment at a fundraiser in Rhode Island.

"I hope you are signed up for a year of hard work," President Obama said. "We've done a lot in the last two and half years...But what we haven't done is change Washington. People have lost confidence."

Guests sat at about a half-dozen round tables as they dined on salad and wine, according to pool. In order to win the next election, everyone must be involved, with the same "fierce urgency of now" that existed in 2008, President Obama said.

"The only way it works is if everybody is involved and everybody is paying attention and everybody is engaged. We got people engaged and excited in 2008," he said. "We’ve got to re-engage them and re-excite them in 2012.

D'Orta introduced the President before his remarks. The Campaign closes its books at 11:59 PM, following a massive fundraising push that included offering the President as the prize in a dinner sweepstakes for donors.

The transcript:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
__________________________________
September 30, 2011
For immediate release


REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT DNC EVENT

Private Residence
Washington, D.C.

7:31 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, to Jim and Jeff, thank you so much for the hospitality. To all of you, for being here. I have to say that the good doctor could run for office. (Laughter.) He's quite an orator. So that was an extraordinarily gracious introduction and thank you for opening up your home. To all of you who are here -- some of you who've been longtime supporters, some of you who I'm seeing for the first time, it's wonderful to be here.

And what I want to do is have more of a conversation than a monologue, so I'm just going to say a few words at the top very briefly, and then we'll open it up for questions.

I was just on the West Coast, traveling across the country, talking to people about the jobs act and why we need to put people back to work; talking to them about a wide range of issues like energy and health care. And I made the argument to them that I'll make to you, which is that this election is in some ways even more consequential than 2008.

I think in 2008 we understood that for decades there had been a host of problems that had been building up over time; that the dream of middle-class folks, or folks who were aspiring to the middle class, being able to work hard, get a good education, get a good job, act responsibly, buy a home, make sure that their kids are doing even better than they are, retire with some dignity and respect -- that dream felt like it was slipping away. And for a whole host of reasons -- because we had under-invested in our human capital and our education system, and in our infrastructure; because, frankly, we had seen the rules tilted against ordinary folks in favor of those who were well connected in Washington or powerful on Wall Street.

And we argued in 2008 -- and we captured I think the imaginations of a lot of people -- that we could bring about some fundamental change if we got past some of the partisan rancor and the constant politicking that had come to characterize Washington.

Now, we've done a lot over these two and a half years. Obviously in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, we've been able to avoid a great depression, stabilize the financial system. We've been able to move forward on a lot of the campaign pledges that we had talked about from making sure that health care is affordable and accessible to every American; to reforming our education system at the K- through-12 level so that our kids can compete in this global economy; to ending "don't ask, don't tell"; to making sure that we signed into law equal pay for equal work.

Extraordinarily proud of the accomplishments and the progress that we've made over the last two years. But what we haven’t done is change Washington. And we still have work to do to make sure that this town is working on behalf of ordinary folks so that they can start once again believing in the American Dream -- because people have lost confidence in the capacity of folks to look out for them as opposed to look out for themselves or their most powerful patrons. And that’s part of what 2012 is all about.

We’ve got the other party that is laying out for all to see what their agenda is, and that is to roll back environmental regulations; to try to shrink the capacity of government to act in a proactive way to make sure that we can out-educate and out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world; to basically allow the most powerful forces in our society to write their own rules and everybody else is going to be on their own. And the argument I made in 2008 applies to 2012: That’s not the story of America.

What Jim was just talking about in terms of the history of this home is a story of people making it in part because somebody was investing in public schools, somebody was making sure that we were investing in basic research and development that could ensure that America had the technological edge. The story of America is all of us joining together and everybody sharing in sacrifice, but also sharing in opportunity. And that’s what we need to sustain and that’s what’s at stake in this 2012 election.

Now, it’s going to be hard. The economy is coming out of this enormous world recession and people, understandably, are hurting. All around the country where I travel, folks are having a very difficult time. They don’t believe in the other side's vision, but they’re frustrated.

And so we’ve got to be able to make the argument -- an argument I believe that if we stay the course, if we stay on track, if we keep on the task of reforming our education system and making college more affordable, if we stay on track in terms of implementing health care to start making it more efficient, if we stay on track in rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools, and if we stay on track in terms of bringing manufacturing back to the United States and making it effective, then I have no doubt that America can compete -- because we still have the universities; we still have the best entrepreneurs; we still have the best scientists; and I believe we’ve got the best system of government -- when it’s working.

And the only way it works is if everybody is involved and everybody is paying attention and everybody is engaged. We got people engaged and excited in 2008. We’ve got to re-engage them and re-excite them in 2012. And I can’t do that by myself. I’m going to need all of you to be a part of that.

So let me just close by saying this. I could not be prouder to have friends and supporters like the people in this room. I hope you are signed up for a year of hard work. This is not going to be easy. But if we have that same sense of urgency -- what I called in 2008 the “fierce urgency of now” -- if we still possess that, then not only are we going to be able to succeed in the election, but more importantly, we’re going to be able to give the American Dream back to the American people.

Thank you so much, everybody. (Applause.)

END 7:38 P.M. EDT
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Michelle Obama Campaigns In Rhode Island: 2012 Election Will Impact America "For Decades"

Transcript: A decision about competing visions of Nation...
Ahead of the midnight FEC quarterly donation deadline for the Obama campaign, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to about 220 guests at a fundraiser on Friday evening at the Providence, Rhode Island home of former Mayor Joseph R. Paolino JrPresident Obama was simultaneously appearing at a big-ticket event in Georgetown.

"Make no mistake about it, whether it’s health care or the economy, education or foreign policy, the choice we make in this election will determine nothing less than who we are as a country -– and who we want to be," Mrs. Obama said. "You’re here because you know that in just 13 months, we’re going to make a choice that will impact our lives for decades to come."

Mrs. Obama's appearance followed a visit with military spouses at the Rhode Island National Guard headquarters in Cranston earlier in the afternoon, as well as two fundraisers in Maine.

"I am not going to kid you, this journey is going to be long. It is going to be hard. And there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way," Mrs. Obama said. "The reality is, is that change is slow -- real, meaningful change. It never happens all at once."

Mrs. Obama spoke under a white tent set up in the backyard of the Paolino's three-story white Colonial home, located about a mile from Brown University, on the city's affluent East Side. Paolino is a prominent businessman and Democratic Party fundraiser who served as U.S. Ambassador to Malta during the Clinton Administration. He said the event would raise more than $300,000 for the Obama re-election campaign, with tickets starting at $1,000 and donations capped at $38,500.

Guests: RI Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, a Republican turned independent who served in the U.S. Senate with Mr. Obama; RI Sen. Jack Reed and RI Rep. David Cicilline; outgoing Brown University president Ruth Simmons; and David Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island. Guests started arriving as early as 4 PM.

Those who gave at least $5,000 had a picture taken with the First Lady. The menu included "heavy hors d'oeuvres" of steak and lamb, according to pool. Proceeds for the fundraiser, sponsored by the Democratic National Committee, went to the Obama Victory Fund.

The transcript:

THE WHITE HOUSE
_____________________

Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release
September 30, 2011

REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
AT 2012 RHODE ISLAND RECEPTION

Private Residence
Providence, Rhode Island

7:31 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: Yes! (Applause.) The night is young. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Can everybody hear me?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fired up!

MRS. OBAMA: Can you hear me? (Applause.) All right. It is a pleasure and an honor to be here with all of you tonight. You’re looking good, too. (Laughter.) I want to thank you. I want to start by thanking Patrick for that very powerful, passionate introduction. He is tremendous, and he has been a friend, a supporter, an advocate, a role model -- just a pillar of strength. And we love you. We love your family. Let’s give him a round of applause. (Applause.) Thank you so much, Patrick.

And I also want to thank Joe and Lianne and their beautiful family for hosting us. They’re gorgeous, and they’re accomplished. (Applause.) And there are a whole lot of strong women. You guys are pretty good if you can withstand it. Thank you for hosting us here tonight in your lovely home.

And to Mark and to Susan, thank you all for everything you’ve done as co-chairs. You have done a tremendous job. Way to go. It’s an excellent start.

I also want to recognize Governor Chafee, who is here, as well as Senators Reed and Whitehouse. (Applause.) Representatives Langevin and Cicilline are here as well. (Applause.) And I think Mayor Taveras is here, our mayor -- he’s here as well. (Applause.) And to all the other elected officials here today, thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for your leadership, your service, and your support. We could not do this without you.

And finally, I want to thank all of you for joining us this evening. Friday night, good weather, and you’re here? (Laughter and applause.) So to all the dates here, make sure you go out to a nice dinner afterwards. (Laughter.) There are a lot of good-looking people here. It’ll be an early evening; make sure you do something else. Okay? You promise me that? (Laughter.)

I am thrilled to see so many new faces, but I am also thrilled to see so many old friends -– folks who have been with us since the very beginning, through all of the ups and downs and the twists and turns. It’s been a ride, hasn’t it?

But there’s a reason why you all are here tonight, and it’s not just because it’s a nice evening and a Friday night. You’re here because you know that we stand at a fundamental crossroads for our country. You’re here because you know that in just 13 months, we’re going to make a choice that will impact our lives for decades to come. And you’re here because I know that you care about this country, you care about your fellow citizens, you care about your children, your grandchildren, and you care about the world that we’re leaving behind for them.

And that’s really why I’m here tonight as well, and why I will be out there working hard for the next 13 months.

Because as First Lady, I have the privilege and the delight and the honor of traveling all across this country, meeting folks from all different backgrounds and hearing what’s going on in their lives. And every day, I hear about the folks who have businesses that they’re trying to keep afloat. I hear about the doctor’s bills that people can’t pay, or the mortgage they can no longer afford.

I hear about how folks are taking that extra shift, or they’re working that extra job; how they’re saving and sacrificing, and never spending a dime on themselves because they desperately want something better for their kids.

And make no mistake about it, these struggles are not new. For decades now, middle-class families have been squeezed from all sides. The cost of things like gas and groceries -- tuition -- have been continually increasing, but people’s paychecks just haven’t kept up.

So when this economic crisis hit, for so many families, the bottom just fell out. And the question today is, what are we as a nation going to do about this? Where do we go from here?

And I know that amidst all the chatter and the debates, it can be hard to see clearly what’s really at stake. And these issues are complicated, and folks are busy. Folks are raising families and working full-time jobs, helping out in their communities. And many of us just don’t have time to follow the news, and the back-and-forth, and to figure out how all of these conversations and issues connect to our daily lives.

But the fact is that in just a little over a year from now, we are going to make a decision between two very different visions for this country -- very different. And I am here today because when it comes to just about every issue -– from our health, to our economic security, to the quality of our schools –- the stakes for our families, and for our country, have never been higher -- never.

Let’s start with the American Jobs Act that my husband just sent to Congress. (Applause.) When we talk about how this bill will give tax cuts to 6 million small business owners, we are talking about folks who run the restaurants and the stores and the startups that create two-thirds of all new jobs in this country each year -- two-thirds.

We’re talking about people who work themselves to the bone every day, then they go home and pore over the books late into the night, determined to make the numbers add up.

We’re talking about a tax cut that could mean the difference between providing for their families or not, between hiring new employees or handing out pink slips; the difference between keeping their doors open, or closing up shop for good.

That is what’s at stake in this election.

When we talk about how this bill would extend unemployment insurance for 6 million Americans, we’re talking about folks who are just weeks away from losing their only source of income.

So this is literally about whether or not millions of families and children will have food on their tables and a roof over their heads. It’s about whether folks will have money in their pockets, money that means more money into the economy and more jobs.

But most importantly, it’s about whether we as a country will honor that fundamental promise that we made generations ago, that when times are hard, we do not abandon our fellow citizens. (Applause.) That promise that we don’t let everything fall apart for struggling families. It’s not who we are.

Instead we say, “There but for the grace of God goes my family.” Instead we remember that we’re all in this together, and we extend a helping hand.

That’s the choice in this election.

And how about the first bill my husband signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work? (Applause.)

Now, he did this because, as he put it, we believe that here in America, there are no second-class citizens in our workplaces. And he did it because he understands that when nearly two-thirds of women are breadwinners or co-breadwinners, that women’s success in this economy is the key to families’ success in this economy. And closing that pay gap can mean the difference between women losing 50, 100, 500 dollars from each paycheck, or having that money to buy gas and groceries and school clothes for their kids.

That is the choice we’re making in this election.

And let’s talk about health care for a minute. Last year, we made history by finally passing health reform. (Applause.) Thanks to all of you. But now, there are folks out there talking about repealing this reform. And today, we need to ask ourselves, will we let them succeed?

AUDIENCE: No!

MRS. OBAMA: Will we let insurance companies deny us coverage because we have preexisting conditions like breast cancer or diabetes?

AUDIENCE: No!

MRS. OBAMA: Or will we stand up and say that in this country, we will not allow folks to go bankrupt because they get sick? Who are we?

Will we let insurance companies refuse to cover basic preventative care -– things like cancer screenings, prenatal care -- that save money and save lives? Or will we stand up for our lives and for the lives of the people we love?

That is what’s at stake here. That is the choice in this election.

I’d just ask you to think a moment about what we’ve done in education. And just think about the investments we’ve made to raise standards and to reform our public schools.

This is about improving the circumstances for millions of our children in this country -- kids we know are sitting in crumbling classrooms. Kids with so much promise. Kids who could be anything in the world they wanted if only we gave them the chance.

Think about how we’ve tripled investments for job training at community colleges just this year alone. It’s about millions of hardworking folks who are determined to get the skills they need for that better job and those better wages. Folks willing to do whatever it takes to improve their own lives, willing to do it themselves -- working full-time, raising kids, but still making time every evening to go to school, study late into the night, because they desperately want something better for their families.

And make no mistake about it, this type of investment in our students and in our workers will determine nothing less than the future of this economy. (Applause.) It’s going to determine whether we’re prepared to make the kinds of discoveries and build the industries that will let us compete with any country anywhere in the world.

That is what’s at stake here.

And let’s not forget what it meant when my husband appointed those two brilliant Supreme Court justices, and for the first time in history, our daughters and our sons watched three women take their seats on our nation’s highest court. (Applause.) A beautiful sight.

But let’s not forget the impact that their decisions will have on our lives for decades to come -– on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and love whoever we choose.

That is what’s at stake in this election. (Applause.)

And think about how we finally are bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan -- (applause) -- and helping them and their families get the education and the employment and the benefits that they have earned. (Applause.)

And we cannot forget how, because we finally ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” our troops will never again have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you!

MRS. OBAMA: Think about how we finally brought to justice the man behind the 9/11 attacks and so many other horrific acts of terror. (Applause.)

And think about what it means to finally have a foreign policy where we work to keep our country safe, but we also restore our standing in the world.

That is what’s at stake in this election.

So make no mistake about it, whether it’s health care or the economy, education or foreign policy, the choice we make in this election will determine nothing less than who we are as a country -– and who we want to be.

Will we be a country that tells folks who’ve done everything right but are still struggling, “tough luck, you’re on your own”? Who are we?

Or will we honor that fundamental American belief that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, and if one of us is hurting, then all of us are hurting? Who are we as a nation? (Applause.)

Will we be a country where opportunity is limited to the few at the top? Or will we give every child a chance to succeed, no matter where she’s from, what she looks like, or how much money her parents have? Who do we want to be as a nation?

Will we lose sight of those basic values that made our country great and built our thriving middle class? Or can we rebuild our economy for the long term so that work pays, and responsibility is rewarded, and everyone -- everyone -- gets a fair shake and does their fair share?

That is the choice we face. Those are the stakes.

But believe me, Barack knows this all too well. He understands these issues because he’s lived them. He was raised by a single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills. And when things got too tough for her, his grandmother stepped in, waking up every morning before dawn to take the bus to her job at the bank.

And his grandmother worked hard, and she was good at what she did. But for nearly two decades, he’s watched as she was passed over for promotions. Why? Because she was a woman. And she watched men no more qualified then she was –- men she actually trained –- climb the corporate ladder ahead of her.

So believe me, Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means when someone doesn’t have a chance to fulfill their potential. And today, as a father, he certainly knows what it means to want your children to grow up with no limits to their dreams.

Those are the experiences that have made him the man -– and the President -– he is today. And that is what I hear in his voice when he comes home after a long day traveling around the country, and he tells me about the people he’s met.

That is what I see in those moments late at night, after the girls have long gone to bed, and he’s poring over letters and briefings. The letter from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won’t cover her care. The letter from the father struggling to pay his family’s bills. The letter from the young person with so much promise but so few opportunities.

And believe me, I hear the passion in his voice and the determination. He says, “You will not believe what folks are going through.” That’s what he tells me. “Michelle, it isn’t right. We have got to fix this. We have so much more to do.”

You see, what you all have to understand about your President is that when it comes to the people he meets, Barack has a memory like a steel trap. Irritates me sometimes. (Laughter.)

He might not remember your name, but if he’s had a few minutes and a decent conversation with you, he will never forget your story. It becomes imprinted on his heart.

And that is what he carries with him every day -– it’s that collection of hopes, and dreams, and struggles.

That is where Barack Obama gets his passion. That’s where he gets his toughness and his fight.


And that’s why, even in the hardest moments, when all seems lost and we’re all wringing our hands and wondering what’s going to happen -- I do this to him all the time -- (laughter) -- Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He is always looking 100 feet ahead. Never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise. It is amazing.

He just keeps moving forward.

But I have said this before to many of you, and I will say it again: He cannot do this alone. Never could. That was never the promise.

He needs your help. He needs you to keep up that extraordinary work that you’ve been doing. He needs you to keep on making those phone calls and registering those voters. He needs you to take one of those “I’m in” cards -- that I know you all better have -- and use them, sign up yourselves, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues. Convince more and more people to join in and give a little part of your lives each week to this campaign.

But I am not going to kid you, this journey is going to be long. It is going to be hard. And there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way. But the truth is, that is how change always happens in this country. The reality is, is that change is slow -- real, meaningful change. It never happens all at once.

But if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight, if we keep doing what we know is right, then we always get there. We always do. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but maybe in our children’s lifetimes, or our grandchildren’s lifetimes.

Because in the end, that is really what this is all about. In the end, we are not fighting these battles for ourselves. We are fighting them for our sons and our daughters -- for our grandsons and our granddaughters. We’re fighting for the world we want to leave for them. That’s what this is about.

And look, I am not in this fight -- (applause) -- I’m not in this just as a mother who wants to leave a legacy for my girls. I’m also in this as a citizen who knows what we can do together to change this country for the better. We know who we are.

Because the truth is, no matter what happens, my girls will be okay. We are blessed. My girls still have plenty of advantages and opportunities in their lives. And that’s probably true for many of the young people in your lives as well.

But I think the last few years have shown us the truth of what Barack has always said: that if any child in this country is left behind, then that should matter to all of us -- even if she is not our daughter, even if he is not our son. (Applause.)

If any family in this country struggles, then we cannot be fully content with our own family’s good fortune. Because that is not what we do in America. That is not who we are.

In the end, we cannot separate our own story from the broader American story. Like it or not, we are all in this together, and that’s a good thing. And we know that here in America, we can shape our own destiny. We know that if we make the right choices, and if we have the right priorities, we can ensure that everyone gets a fair shake and a chance to get ahead. We can do that in America.

So we cannot afford to be complacent, or tired, or frustrated. We don’t have the time for that. It is time to get to work.

So let me ask you one last question: Are you in? (Laughter.) Are you all in? (Applause.) Are you out there? Because let me tell you something: I am in. (Applause.) I am in. I am going to work harder than anybody out there, because I know the country that I want to leave for my girls. (Applause.)

So I hope that all of you are fired up. I hope that all of you are ready to go. Because we have work to do. Are you in? (Applause.)

Thank you all. God bless you. Let’s get it done. (Applause.)

END 7:54 P.M. EDT

###
*AP photo
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Sam Kass & Cabinet Secretaries Unveil "MiPlato"

¿Qué Hay en su Plato?: A new Spanish-language version of MyPlate, the "most delicious" effort from Lets Move!, says Kass...Video...
October is Hispanic Heritage Month, and there was a foodie celebration on the White House campus this afternoon. Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass joined Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to unveil MiPlato, the Spanish-language version of USDA's MyPlate food icon. They were joined at the 3:15 PM event by chef Marcela Valladolid and Chef Pepín, huge celebs on Hispanic food TV. (Above: Kass speaks as Salazar looks on)

MiPlato is a targeted edition of the colorful MyPlate icon, launched by First Lady Obama in June. It offers visual guidance for creating meals based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which encourages citizens to consume fruit or vegetables at every meal, including breakfast.

"Mi Plato is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we're eating," Mrs. Obama said in a statement.

The First Lady noted that hardworking, busy parents don't have time be nutritionists, and that's where MiPlato comes in.

"We do have time to take a look at our kids' plates, and as long as they're eating proper portions, as long as half of their meal is fruits and vegetables alongside their lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, then we're good," Mrs. Obama said. "It's as simple as that."

Kass hailed Mrs. Obama's leadership as he praised the usefulness of MiPlato.

"MiPlato--the Myplate initiative--is a tremendous tool and resource for parents and chefs alike all over the country to have a framework in which to innovate and create," Kass said. "I am very excited about this. We are working with communties to help make this the most delicious effort to date coming out of Lets Move!."



Kass has appeared on network TV to demonstrate recipes that show how various cultures can incorporate MyPlate into their own their own culinary traditions.

"I am excited that our First Lady initiated this program, something that we Hispanics need especially," said Chef Pepín.

In their own remarks, Salazar and Vilsack also praised Mrs. Obama's leadership, and both pointed out the high rates of obesity and diet-related disease in Hispanic communities. (Above: Vilsack speaks surrounded from l by Benjamin, Salazar, Kass, Valladolid and Pepín)

More information is at ChooseMyPlate.gov and LetsMove.gov. Check the sidebar of this blog for White House MyPlate recipes.

The Obama Administration’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month has the theme “Renewing the American Dream," and this week focuses on the community’s well-being. The MiPlato tips are "part of a multi-year effort to raise awareness and educate consumers of every age on the importance of healthier eating and physical activity."

USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recently announced that more than 4,000 organizations, known as Community Partners, have now joined the Nutrition Communicators Network doubling the July number. Community Partners are organizations actively committed to promoting healthy eating in accordance with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as symbolized by the MyPlate and MiPlato food icons.

October is also the first-ever National Farm to School Month.

*Photos by USDA. Updated.
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Obama's First Dinner Contest E-Mail Of The Day: "I Like These Dinners"

Based on President Obama's first e-mail of the day about the Dinner with Barack contest (there were two e-mails by 10:00 AM), it sounds like he and I used to dine together regularly, but since he's become all busy being Commander in Chief and saving the economy and I've been working an extra night job to support my underemployed partner, we've drifted apart. The first e-mail had the subject line "I like these dinners," and the President--er, Barack, because we're on a first-name basis in e-mail--opened with:

"Because you and I don't have a lot of chances to have dinner together, I hope you'll take advantage of the one that's coming up this fall."

Well, how can anyone resist such a prettily worded dinner invite?! I've been missing our dinners together, too! Barack asked for $3 to ensure we get the chance to continue our culinary adventures.

For a campaign that is relying on e-mail to woo donors, whomever is actually writing President Obama's missives is making some *interesting* choices for phrases. The e-mails are just plain goofy. Or "creepy" and "semi-stalkerish" according to Business Insider. Or filled with "borderline booty-call language," according to The New Republic.

I've never actually had dinner with President Obama, but First Lady Obama assured me in an e-mail sent on Wednesday that the President wants to have fun. She advised me to "just relax." In Barack's second e-mail today, the dinner invite was the PS to a request for a $10 donation. There's also a new video about the dinner.

What I'd really like from the Obama Campaign is an e-mail announcing the names of the winners of this summer's "Dinner with Barack and Joe" contest. Still wondering who those four mystery Americans are.

UPDATE: Late in the afternoon Twitter users started joking about e-mail subject lines, using the hashtag #ObamaCampaignEmailSubjectLines.

@EzraKlein had the best tweet: "I THE PRESDENT OF THE UNITED STATE HAVE AN URGENT BUSINESS PROPOSAL FOR TRUSTED FRIEND"

@Adambonin tweeted: "How Many More Terrorists Do I Have To Kill For You To Like Me Again?"

The text of e-mail #1, "I like these dinners":

XXXX --

Because you and I don't have a lot of chances to have dinner together, I hope you'll take advantage of the one that's coming up this fall.

So if you've been sitting on this, now's the time to toss your name in the hat:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner

I like these dinners not just because I get to hear from supporters like you, but because they're part of what makes our organization different.

Other campaigns save seats at the table for special-interest PACs and Washington lobbyists -- and you can see the effects in the decisions they make and the priorities they set.

Our campaign rejects all contributions from Washington lobbyists, and we refuse all money from corporate PACs. That means we're accountable only to the people, not special interests.

Instead, we're relying on millions of people like you giving just $3 or whatever you can pitch in.

Hope to see you soon:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner

Thanks,

Barack

##

The text of e-mail #2, "Stronger For it":

Friend --

We're building something different here.

Ours is the only major presidential campaign that outright rejects contributions from Washington lobbyists and refuses money from special-interest PACs.

No matter what the deadline, no matter what the pressures or distractions, we're always going to do this the right way: one person and one grassroots donation at a time.

It's the hard way to do it, but we're stronger for it in the end.

So please donate $10 or more before midnight tonight:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Friday-Deadline

Thank you,

Barack

P.S. -- If you make a donation of any amount before midnight, you'll be automatically entered for a chance to join me for dinner with three other supporters.

##
read more "Obama's First Dinner Contest E-Mail Of The Day: "I Like These Dinners""

#DinnerWithBarack Tweet Du Jour...

As the contest rockets to its midnight deadline, President Obama sent two e-mails to supporters--"I like these dinners"--and OFA posted a new dinner video. The President and First Lady Obama will both attend fundraisers today. Mrs. Obama is in Maine and Rhode Island; the President will be in Washington.
read more "#DinnerWithBarack Tweet Du Jour..."

Saturday: President Obama Keynotes Human Rights Campaign National Dinner

The President will celebrate the end of DADT with 3,000 guests; will he talk marching shoes?...
UPDATE: The post about the President's address is here
President Obama will speak to more than 3,000 guests in Washington, DC, on Saturday evening at the sold-out annual dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT rights organization. The President's appearance continues his tour of wooing crucial and potentially disgruntled constituencies: Last Saturday, Mr. Obama spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Phoenix Awards Dinner, an equally large event. The President was stern with his audience: He told the the CBC to "stop complaining" and "get to work" on his agenda, suggesting they swap their "bedroom slippers" for "marching shoes." (Above: The President also keynoted the HRC gala in 2009)

Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Thursday that he has no idea if the President will give his HRC audience similar advice about either work or clothing...but the end of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy will get some Presidential attention.

"I haven't seen a draft of the remarks yet, so I don't want to anticipate what he might say," Carney said. "I certainly think that the successful repeal and elimination of DADT is a topic worth discussing. It's a major accomplishment and a much-needed one. But beyond that, I don't know what he will say at this point."

DADT officially ended on Sept. 20, after the Administration worked aggressively to repeal it. But other LGBT rights issues that were Campaign promises remain up in the air. Will the President make news by discussing his"evolving position" on gay marriage?

"We are honored to share this night with President Obama who has a tremendous record of accomplishment for LGBT people," said outgoing HRC president Joe Solmonese. "On the heels of the end to 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,' we look forward to celebrating our victories and redoubling our efforts for the fights that remain ahead."

The President's statement on the end of DADT is here.

The HRC Dinner is at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Lady Gaga was the featured performer when President Obama addressed the HRC in 2009. Last weekend, she showed up at one of the President's fundraising dinners in Silicon Valley as a paying guest.

*Getty photo
read more "Saturday: President Obama Keynotes Human Rights Campaign National Dinner"

The New "Dinner With Barack" Video


The deadline for entries in the "Dinner with Barack" contest is 11:59 PM ET tonight, and OFA created a new video to woo donations--now down to $3 as the baseline ask. The video was shot during President Obama's luncheon with Campaign volunteers at Ted's Bulletin restaurant in Washington, DC on August 10th, not at the actual dinner with the four supporters who won the first dinner contest sweepstakes, "Dinner with Barack and Joe." OFA still hasn't publicly released their names.
read more "The New "Dinner With Barack" Video"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Obama Campaign Staffers Fueled By "Bad" Food, Sez Top Official

Perhaps First Lady Obama needs to drop by President Obama's re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago and give some tips on healthy eating and moderation: The overworked staffers are absolutely gorging on lousy food, according to Rufus Gifford, the National Finance Director for Obama for America.  Staffers have eaten a year's worth of junk in "the past few weeks," Gifford said today.  And they're hyper-caffeinated, too.

"We've all had more pizza and bad takeout in the past few weeks than anyone should have in a year," Gifford wrote in an e-mail request for a $3 donation.

"The staff and I are working around the clock, powered by too much coffee."

Gifford was unperturbed by the fact that he and his fellow staffers might be facing years of consequences--and huge health-care costs--from diet-related diseases.

"No one's complaining; that's what we signed up for," Gifford wrote. Though he does mention that "It's been way too long since we called our moms."

President Obama's Administration has created a comprehensive, multi-agency attack on obesity and diet-related disease, coordinated by Mrs. Obama's Let's move! campaign, but apparently Obama for America hasn't gotten the memo. Maybe it's time for staffers to take the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge, which now includes a nutrition component, Mrs. Obama announced last weekend.

Gifford's e-mail had the subject heading "Why we've been sending you emails."

The text:

Friend --

I'm the national finance director here at OFA.

I know we've been sending you a lot of email lately. That's because we're staring down a critical fundraising deadline tomorrow at midnight.

You know what that means for your inbox, but let me give you a sense of what that looks like around here.

The staff and I are working around the clock, powered by too much coffee. It's been way too long since we called our moms. And we've all had more pizza and bad takeout in the past few weeks than anyone should have in a year.

No one's complaining; that's what we signed up for. And we're not doing this just because it's our job to make sure the campaign has the resources it needs. We're doing this because it's part of what defines this movement.

From the beginning, we've refused to take money from D.C. lobbyists and corporate special interests. Our operation is fueled by people inspiring each other to take ownership of this campaign.

That's why we've been emailing this week, and that's why I'm obligated to remind you once more that the deadline is coming up in a matter of hours.

If you're able to, will you chip in just $3 today?

https://donate.barackobama.com/Friday-Deadline

For all of us here at HQ, and all of the staff and volunteers across the country counting on these resources, I really appreciate your help.

Rufus

Rufus Gifford
National Finance Director
Obama for America
##

*Photo: President Obama enjoys a Kringle, a kind of donut, during a visit to Ohio.
read more "Obama Campaign Staffers Fueled By "Bad" Food, Sez Top Official"

Michelle Obama Shops At Target

UPDATE: More details on First Lady's visit is in this post
First Lady Obama
was photographed today shopping at a Target store in Alexandria, Virginia. The shots were taken by AP photographer Charles Dharapak, who regularly covers the White House. Mrs. Obama, "incognito" in sunglasses and a baseball cap with a Nike logo, was snapped standing in the checkout line with an aide, as well as pushing a grocery cart while carrying plastic Target bags.

Secret Service agents scoped out the Target store, located on Rt. 1 about 20 minutes from the White House, about a half hour ahead of Mrs. Obama's visit, reported AP. The First Lady's Director of Communications, Kristina Schake, declined to confirm if photographer Dharapak had been tipped off about Mrs. Obama's citizen outing, which lasted between 30-40 minutes as she browsed the aisles.

"It is not uncommon for the First Lady to slip out to run an errand, eat at a local restaurant or otherwise enjoy the city outside the White House gates," Schake told CBS News.

One of Mrs. Obama's more notable "slip outs" was to DC's BLT Steak restaurant in April, when she ran into hockey dynamo Alex Ovechkin. The puckish superstar tweeted a photo of himself with his arm around the First Lady. (Above: Mrs. Obama checking out)

Target also tweeted Mrs. Obama's visit to their store.

"First Lady Michelle Obama may be incognito but there is no denying those signature @Target red carts!" was tweeted from the @Bullseyeview account. @Target retweeted it.

Mrs. Obama has a historic public private partnership for the Let's Move! campaign with Walmart, Target's biggest competitor. Walmart has pledged to trim fat, sugar, and salt from its private label food products, as well as build markets in "food deserts." Target has made no such commitment.

One of the photos of Mrs. Obama at Target wound up above the banner on Drudge Report for much of the afternoon, with the odd headline "A Woman's World." The Target shopping shots are in contrast to Dharapak's photos of Mrs. Obama snapped on Monday at the White House, when she made an announcement about womens' STEM career issues. (Above, Mrs. Obama entering the East Room for her announcement)

*Updated

*Photos by Charles Dharapak/AP
read more "Michelle Obama Shops At Target"

#DinnerWithBarack Tweet Du Jour...And The Winner Selection Process...

Donating does not increase the odds of winning dinner with the President...
The selection process for Dinner With Barack is rawther complicated, according to the Official Rules. There's a background and security check, an affidavit and media release that must be signed, and applicable taxes for the prize, which has an assigned retail value of $1,150. It's not just four names drawn out of a hat: 50 "potential winners" will be selected in a random drawing at Obama for America Headquarters on October 7. But then "Sponsor" will "select four winners from the list of eligible potential winners" based on "an appropriate range of views, backgrounds, and interests among the winners selected." Winners will be notified by Oct. 14.

Or maybe they won't be: The names of the winners for the first sweepstakes, "Dinner with Barack and Joe," have not been released as of today, Sept. 29. The rules for that sweepstakes required these to be publicly posted on http://my.barackobama.com/dinnewinners but the link takes users to a page that says "Sorry, the page you're looking for isn't here." The query box on the page redirects to a volunteer sign up/donation page.

Donating does not increase the odds of dining with the President, according to the Official Rules.

The Presidential dinner rules:

OBAMA FOR AMERICA "DINNER with BARACK II" SWEEPSTAKES OFFICIAL RULES

Important: Please read these Official Rules before entering this online promotion (the "Promotion").
By participating in the Promotion, you agree to be bound by these Official Rules and represent that you satisfy all of the eligibility requirements below.


NO PURCHASE, PAYMENT, OR FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS PROMOTION.
1. Eligibility. PURCHASE, PAYMENT OR FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION WILL NOT INCREASE ODDS OF WINNING. PROMOTION VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. PROMOTION OPEN ONLY TO INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES CITIZENS AND LAWFUL PERMANENT U.S. RESIDENTS WHO ARE LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE FIFTY (50) UNITED STATES AND DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND PUERTO RICO, AND OVER THE AGE OF 18 (OR THE AGE OF MAJORITY UNDER APPLICABLE LAW). BUSINESSES, CORPORATIONS, REGISTERED FEDERAL LOBBYISTS, REGISTERED FOREIGN AGENTS, FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES, NATIONAL BANKS, FEDERAL CONTRACTORS, LABOR ORGANIZATIONS OR OTHER ENTITIES ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO ENTER OR WIN A PRIZE, NOR MAY ANY INDIVIDUAL ENTER ON BEHALF OF ANY SUCH ENTITIES. IF YOU DO NOT MEET ANY OF THESE REQUIREMENTS, OR ANY OTHER ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS IN THESE OFFICIAL RULES, YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO WIN A PRIZE, AND OBAMA FOR AMERICA ("SPONSOR") RESERVES THE RIGHT NOT TO AWARD PRIZES TO YOU. To be eligible to win the prize, entries must be completed and received by Sponsor in the format designated below. Directors, officers and employees of Sponsor and any of their respective parent companies, affiliate companies, subsidiaries, agents, professional advisors, advertising and promotional agencies, and immediate families of each are not eligible to win any prizes. All applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.

2. Disclaimer. Sponsor, and its related committees, affiliates, directors, offices, consultants, professional advisors, employees and agencies (collectively, the "Released Parties") will not be responsible for: (a) any late, lost, misrouted, garbled or distorted or damaged transmissions or entries; (b) telephone, electronic, hardware, software, network, Internet, or other computer- or communications-related malfunctions or failures; (c) any Promotion disruptions, injuries, losses or damages caused by events beyond the control of Sponsor or by non-authorized human intervention; or (d) any printing or typographical errors in any materials associated with the Promotion.

3. Promotion Period. The Promotion starts at 12:00 a.m. (all times Eastern Time) on August 15, 2011 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sep 30, 2011 (the "Promotion Period"). All entries must be received during the Promotion Period to be eligible to win a prize.

4. Prizes. Four (4) winners will each receive the following prize package (the "Trip"):

  • One round-trip coach-class airplane ticket from the major airport closest to the winner's address within the continental United States to a destination within the continental United States to be determined at the sole discretion of the Sponsor ("Destination"), including ground transportation to and from the airport at the Destination. (approximate retail value $800.00)
  • One night's stay for winner at a hotel at the Destination on a date to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion in a single-occupancy room or room of equivalent value (approximate retail value $150.00);
  • Dinner with President Barack Obama at the Destination, on a date to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion (approximate retail value $200.00);

Approximate retail value of the entire Trip package: $1,050.00.

Sponsor will choose, in its sole discretion, the airline, hotel, flight dates, flight times, departure city and airport and other Trip logistics and details. Dates of travel are subject to availability. If winner's address is within 100 miles of the Destination, Sponsor may, in its sole discretion, provide ground transportation to the Trip hotel or event in lieu of an airplane ticket. Except as expressly set forth in the description of the Trip above, each winner is responsible for his/her ground transportation to and from the airports and hotel, all meals and all other expenses that such winner incurs in connection with the Trip. Sponsor will also determine, in its sole discretion, the date, location, attendees, and all other relevant details of the Dinner.

5. Odds; Taxes; Etc. Odds of winning a prize depend on the number and quality of eligible entries received. ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAXES ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECEIPT OR USE OF ANY PRIZE ARE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF WINNER. All prizes will be awarded. The prize may be forfeited and awarded to an alternative winner if the winner affidavit and release materials (see Sections 11 and 12 below) are not returned within three (3) days after being sent to winner or if two (2) attempts to contact winner by phone and/or e-mail are not successful. Prizes are not transferable. No substitutions or exchanges (including for cash) of any prizes will be permitted, except that Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value for any prize. Limit one prize per household or address. All prizes are awarded "AS IS" and WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, express or implied (including, without limitation, any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose).

6. Identity of Entrant. In the event of a dispute about the identity of the entrant, entries made online will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at time of entry. An authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. The potential winner may be required to provide Sponsor with proof that the potential winner is the authorized account holder of the e-mail address associated with the winning entry.

7. How to Enter. Participants may enter as follows:

  • (a) Free Online Entry Method: To enter via the free online entry method, visit http://my.barackobama.com/dinner-with-barack-2-alt or other web page specificly identified by Sponsor and complete and submit an online entry form during the Promotion Period.
  • (b) Contribution Method: We are asking for a donation of up to $2,500 from individuals per election to Obama for America. We are not asking for, and will not accept in connection with this solicitation, donations in any amount from registered federal lobbyists, registered foreign agents, federal political action committees, or minors under the age of 16. Contributions in any amount from corporations, labor organizations, national banks, federal contractors, and foreign nationals are prohibited. To enter by contributing money to Sponsor, complete and submit the contribution form at http://www.dinnerwithbarack.com during the Promotion Period. No minimum contribution is necessary to enter. Entering via the contribution method will not increase your chances of winning the prize.


For All Entry Methods: Failure to submit all required information in the manner required in these Official Rules and/or any entry or contribution form may result in disqualification. Proof of contribution or online entry will not be deemed to be proof of receipt of entry by Sponsor. All entrants and entries are subject to verification by Sponsor. Entries will not be acknowledged or returned. By entering the Promotion, you consent to being placed on an e-mail mailing list to receive information from Sponsor and for other purposes in accordance with Sponsor's Privacy Policy. Individuals may not enter the Promotion by any and all methods combined more than ten (10) times in any calendar day.

8. Promotion Rules. Fifty (50) potential winners will be selected by a random drawing from all eligible entries to be held at Obama for America Headquarters on October 7, 2011. Sponsor may, at its option, conduct a background check on each potential winner. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any potential winner from receiving any prize based on such background check if Sponsor determines, in its sole discretion that awarding any prize to such potential winner could result in a safety or security risk to any person or persons or could result in the disruption of any event associated with the Promotion. Sponsor will, in its sole discretion, then select four (4) winners from the list of eligible potential winners on the basis of criteria determined and applied by Sponsor to provide for an appropriate range of views, backgrounds, and interests among the winners selected. Winners will be notified by phone or e-mail by October 14, 2011. To claim the prize, each winner should follow the instructions and comply with the conditions contained in his/her notification.

9. General Release. By entering the Promotion, you release Sponsor and all Released Parties from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action, related to any claims, costs, injuries, losses, or damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the Promotion or delivery, misdelivery, acceptance, possession, use of or inability to use any prize (including, without limitation, claims, costs, injuries, losses and damages related to personal injuries, death, damage to or destruction of property, rights of publicity or privacy, defamation or portrayal in a false light, whether intentional or unintentional), whether under a theory of contract, tort (including negligence), warranty or other theory.

10. Use of Winner Name, Likeness, etc. Except where prohibited by law, entry into the Promotion constitutes permission to use each winner's name, hometown, likeness and/or prize information, without limitation, for promotional purposes without further permission or compensation. As a condition of being awarded any prize, except where prohibited by law, each winner may be required to execute a consent to the use of his or her name, hometown, likeness and/or prize information, without limitation, for promotional purposes without further permission or compensation.

11. Affidavit & Release; Background Security Check. As a condition of being awarded any prize, each winner may be required to execute and deliver to Sponsor a signed affidavit of eligibility and acceptance of these Official Rules and release of liability, and any other legal, regulatory, or tax-related documents required by Sponsor in its sole discretion.

12. Winner List; Rules Request. For a copy of the winner list, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope after September 30, 2011 and before September 30, 2012 to Sponsor at the address listed below, Attn:"Dinner with Barack II" Winner List. To obtain a copy of these Official Rules, visit http://my.barackobama.com/dinner-with-barack-2-rules or send a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope to Sponsor at the address listed below, Attn: "Dinner with Barack II" Rules Request. Residents of VT may omit return postage.

13. Intellectual Property Notice. The Promotion and all accompanying materials are copyright ®2011 by Obama for America. All rights reserved.

14. Miscellaneous. The Promotion and these Official Rules will be governed, construed and interpreted under the laws of Illinois, U.S.A. without regard to its or any other jurisdiction's choice of law provisions. Entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and by the decisions of Sponsor, which are final and binding in all respects. Any provision of these Official Rules deemed unenforceable will be enforced to the extent permissible, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain in effect. Sponsor reserves the right to change these Official Rules at any time, in its sole discretion, and to suspend or cancel the Promotion or any entrant's participation in the Promotion should viruses, bugs, unauthorized human intervention or other causes beyond Sponsor's control affect the administration, security or proper play of the Promotion, or Sponsor otherwise becomes (as determined in its sole discretion) incapable of running the Promotion as planned. Entrants who violate these Official Rules, violate any law, rule or regulation in connection with participation in the Promotion, tamper with the operation of the Promotion or engage in any conduct that is detrimental or unfair to Sponsor, the Promotion or any other entrant (in each case as determined in Sponsor's sole discretion) are subject to disqualification from entry into the Promotion. Sponsor reserves the right to lock out persons whose eligibility is in question or who have been disqualified or are otherwise ineligible to enter the Promotion. If you have any questions about these Official Rules or the Promotion, please e-mail them to dinnerwithbarack@barackobama.com or send written questions to the address listed below, Attn: "Dinner with Barack II" Questions.

15. Sponsor: Obama for America, 130 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601.
read more "#DinnerWithBarack Tweet Du Jour...And The Winner Selection Process..."

Friday: First Lady To Maine, Rhode Island For Fundraising Luncheon, Receptions

As deadline looms for quarterly finance reporting, Mrs. Obama attends big-ticket events...
First Lady Obama hits the road on Friday, traveling up the Eastern seaboard for one last fundraising push for President Obama's 2012 campaign, ahead of the FEC's midnight deadline for quarterly finance reporting. Mrs. Obama will attend one luncheon and three different receptions sprinkled between Maine and Rhode Island, as well as participate in a roundtable event with military spouses, as part of her Joining Forces initiative. (Above: Mrs. Obama joined the President in New York city last week for a DNC fundraiser)

Mrs. Obama's trip follows on President Obama's three-state western swing at the beginning of the week, and is part of the effort to attract one million donors for this quarter.

The First Lady will begin her day in Maine, attending an 11:30 luncheon and 1:00 reception at the home of Bobby Monks in Cape Elizabeth. Monks is a millionaire real estate developer and business entrepreneur, who became Chair of the Obama for Maine Steering Committee in 2007, then served on the Administration's Housing and Urban Development Transition team. He is a member of DNC's National Finance Committee. Tickets are between $2,500-$35,800. (Above: The President and Monks)

After, the First Lady will attend a 3:00 PM reception at the Ocean Gateway terminal at the Portland Jetport in Portland, Maine. Tickets range from $100 to $5,000 (full details on ticket prices for both events below).

In the evening, in Providence, Rhode Island, Mrs. Obama will attend a 7:00 fundraising reception at the Eastside home of former Providence mayor Joseph R. Paolino. The suggested donation begins at $1,000. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee will attend. He endorsed Candidate Obama in 2008, but told The Providence Journal that he is not yet ready to make a formal endorsement for 2012.

"They want more than I can afford," Chafee quipped, when asked how much he will be donating to the President's re-election effort.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama sent e-mails to supporters asking for donations, and touted the Dinner with Barack II sweepstakes.

In between the fundraising events, Mrs. Obama will participate in a 5:30 PM roundtable conversation with military spouses at the Rhode Island Army National Guard Facility in Cranston, RI. The military spouses represent all five military services and a variety of commands at the nearby Naval Station in Newport Rhode Island, including the Naval War College and the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy, according to the White House. The event is part of Mrs. Obama's Joining Forces initiative to support military families.

Maine fundraisers
11:30 AM: Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks at a Democratic National Committee luncheon and reception in Cape Elizabeth,. Tickets are $2,500.00 /guest for the luncheon, $5,000 for photo line reception and luncheon, $15,000 for Host Committee, which includes Co-chair reception, photo line reception and luncheon; and $35,800 for Event Chair designation, which includes the same package of perks.

1:00 PM: Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks at "Obama Victory Fund 2012 — Afternoon Reception with the First Lady," at the Ocean Gateway terminal at the newly refurbished Portland Jetport. Tickets range from $100 to $250 to $500 for "preferred section" to $5,000 for Co-host.

Rhode Island fundraiser
7:00 PM: Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks at a Democratic National Committee reception in Providence, at the East Side home of former Providence Mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr.. Suggested donations start at $1,000.

*Monks photo courtesy Bobby Monks
read more "Friday: First Lady To Maine, Rhode Island For Fundraising Luncheon, Receptions"

White House Sends Let's Move! Delegation To United Nations Health Summit

Dr. Judy Palfrey, Let's Move! Executive Director, blogs about the event...
In New York last week, as President Obama addressed the 66th session of the United Nation's General Assembly, First Lady Obama's Let's Move! team was at the UN too. On Sept. 19 and 20th, the UN held its first-ever High Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, which brought together global leaders for a summit focusing on cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes. Let's Move! Executive Director Dr. Judy Palfrey and members of the Let's Move! team acted as delegates for the summit, where there was much discussion of diets, food systems, and obesity. Palfrey posted about the experience on the Let's Move! blog, noting that the team was "inspired." The post is reprinted in full, below. (Above: Palfrey)

"We were...struck by the commitment of the leaders of many nations that they want to prevent the health consequences of the obesity epidemic that is literally growing worldwide," Palfrey wrote.

One thing Palfrey doesn't mention in her blogpost: On the eve of the summit, UN human rights expert Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter called on the global community to take "immediate and decisive action" against food corporations that produce unhealthy foods. De Schutter said nations must understand that "taxing unhealthy food, regulating harmful marketing practices and standing up to the food industry" are crucial to eliminating preventable diseases, especially diabetes and obesity.
"Our food systems create sick people: failure to act decisively on this issue kills almost 3 million adults each year," De Schutter said. "Voluntary guidelines are not enough."

The Obama Administration--despite being criticized by the GOP for over regulation--does not follow De Schutter's definition of "decisive action" in obesity policy.  There are currently no plans to tax unhealthy foods.  Regulating food marketing to children has come in the form of "voluntary principles" from the FTC (currently under furious assault from the GOP and food/media corporations).


And the White House, led by Mrs. Obama, has engaged stakeholders from across the food industry for voluntary commitments to changing unhealthy foods, which includes trimming fat, salt and sugar content in products, and building markets in food deserts.


Read De Schutter's full statement here. The only other time the UN has held a summit on health was for HIV/Aids.

Palfrey's blogpost:

O What a Wonderful World!
By Dr. Judy Palfrey

On September 19, for first time in history, world leaders met at the United Nations in a High Level Meeting called to begin addressing diabetes, heart disease and cancer on Global scale. One after another the Presidents, Prime Ministers, Health Ministers and other dignitaries stood in front of the UN symbol of peace pledged their resolve to address the root cause of many of these diseases -- overweight and obesity.

As delegates to the high level meeting, a number of us from the Let's Move! team had the honor of meeting people from all over the world who are committed to improving the nutrition and fitness of children and families and to prevent the early onset of chronic health problems.

We were inspired by stories of countries that are examining the availability of fresh foods and the opportunities for young children to play and explore the world. We were also struck by the commitment of the leaders of many nations that they want to prevent the health consequences of the obesity epidemic that is literally growing worldwide.

One of the people we met at the UN meeting was Isabella Platon, the Director of the International Diabetes Federation. As a mother, she has come up with a beautiful way to raise her own children in a global context that celebrates the world's diversity and the beauty of good food and culture. She and her 2 children have identified simple recipes from 195 countries that they can prepare together at home. They are "traveling around the globe" as they chop onions and chillies and tomatoes and prepare rice and beans and spring rolls together. It is at home and in our communities that we can learn about each other and support our children in having fun, learning about the world and keeping healthy.

##
read more "White House Sends Let's Move! Delegation To United Nations Health Summit"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Michelle Obama Sends Two "Dinner With Barack" E-Mails: The President Wants "Fun"

In her first missives about OFA's dinner contest with her husband, First Lady has some advice for winners: "Just relax"...asks for $3 and $10 donations...
First Lady Michelle O
bama sent her very first e-mails about the Dinner with Barack II contest today, writing that the President wants the dinners to be "fun," and signing her e-mails "Michelle." There were two versions: One had the subject line "Take him up on it," and asked supporters for $10. The other, with the subject line "These dinners," asked for just $3, a low-ball figure the campaign trotted out on Tuesday with an e-mail from President Obama himself. Both e-mails are part of a big push to get donations in before Friday's midnight FEC reporting deadline.

"Not everyone knows how to prepare for a dinner like this," Michelle wrote. "I want to tell you the one thing to do if you're selected to join him...Just relax. Barack wants this dinner to be fun, and he really loves getting to know supporters like you."

"Don't miss the opportunity to be there. Donate $3 today, before the September 30th deadline," Mrs. Obama adds.

"Contributing will not improve chances of winning," notes the OFA website about the dinner.

OFA still has not announced the winners for the first contest offering the President as a dinner date, "Dinner with Barack and Joe," months after entries closed in July. A Campaign spokesman couldn't explain why, but it violates OFA's own Official Rules for the contest.

"Since we launched our "Dinner with Barack" contest...we've been getting asked a lot: 'Is this for real?"' wrote National Finance Director Rufus Gifford in an e-mail sent waaaaay back in June.

The Campaign is still getting asked that question. Mrs. Obama will attend three fundraisers on Friday, in Portland, Maine and Providence, Rhode Island.

Michelle's $10 e-mail: "Take him up on it"

Friend --

Not everyone knows how to prepare for a dinner like this. As someone who's eaten countless meals with my husband, I want to tell you the one thing to do if you're selected to join him...

Just relax. Barack wants this dinner to be fun, and he really loves getting to know supporters like you.

I hope you'll take him up on it before Friday's deadline.

Will you donate $10 or more today and be entered to have dinner with Barack?

These dinners mean a lot to Barack. They're a chance for him to talk with a few of the people who are driving the campaign -- and a chance for him to say thank you.

So come prepared to tell your story, and say whatever's on your mind.

Don't miss the opportunity to be there. Donate $10 today, before the September 30th deadline:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner

Thanks,

Michelle

Michelle's $3 e-mail: "These dinners"

Friend --

Not everyone knows how to prepare for a dinner like this. As someone who's eaten countless meals with my husband, I want to tell you the one thing to do if you're selected to join him...

Just relax. Barack wants this dinner to be fun, and he really loves getting to know supporters like you.

I hope you'll take him up on it before Friday's deadline.

Will you donate just $3 today and be entered to have dinner with Barack?

These dinners mean a lot to Barack. They're a chance for him to talk with a few of the people who are driving the campaign -- and a chance for him to say thank you.

So come prepared to tell your story, and say whatever's on your mind.

Don't miss the opportunity to be there. Donate $3 or more today, before the September 30th deadline:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner

Thanks,

Michelle

##

*Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty, taken at Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 34th Annual Awards Gala at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.
read more "Michelle Obama Sends Two "Dinner With Barack" E-Mails: The President Wants "Fun""

@BarackObama's Dinner Contest Tweet Du Jour

The push is on for Friday's FEC filing deadline...
read more "@BarackObama's Dinner Contest Tweet Du Jour"

Bill Yosses Headlines Kickoff Event For Third Annual DC Farm To School Week

The Executive Pastry Chef is the White House ambassador for Oct. 3 celebration of locally sourced school meals and farm-to-table education...
October is the first-ever National Farm to School Month, designated by a Resolution passed by the US House of Representatives in November of 2010. In Washington, DC, Oct. 3-7 is DC Farm to School Week, and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses will join the kick-off celebration on Monday, acting as emcee for a Top Chef-style competition that will be held at 2:00 PM in the gymnasium shared by Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School and Savoy Elementary School in Southeast Washington. Yosses was on hand for last year's DC Farm to School Week celebration, when Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass served as emcee, wowing a crowd of about 200. (Above: Yosses in the Kitchen Garden)

The week of activities includes a focus on locally sourced school meals and farm education, and is sponsored by the D.C. Farm to School Network, now part of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture. At Monday's celebration, Yosses will provide the live commentary as four local chefs engage in a timed battle to create seasonal salads using a pantry of ingredients plucked from DC school gardens and provided by Whole Foods Markets. Student-led tours of the school vegetable garden will follow. This is the third year of events.

Chefs Move to Schools: White House chefs and Tubman Elementary School
Yosses, Kass, and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford all have plenty of experience bringing the farm-to-table experience to students: For First Lady Obama's Chefs Move to Schools initiative, the three Top Toques have adopted Harriet Tubman Elementary School in DC. They have cooked with the students at the school, as well as hosted them at the White House. (Above: The First Lady looks on as Yosses shows a jar of White House Honey to kids during a cooking demonstration on the South Lawn)

Among other activities, Tubman students helped the First Lady harvest her Kitchen Garden in Fall of 2010 and plant it for Spring 2011. They also served as junior guest chefs for the President and Mrs. Obama's 2011 Governors' Dinner, joining the White House chefs to help prepare the meal. Thousands of school kids have now visited the White House for chef-led tours of Mrs. Obama's garden and healthy cooking demonstrations--including at the annual Easter Egg Roll. The chefs have also traveled around the US spreading the Let's Move! message.

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama
read more "Bill Yosses Headlines Kickoff Event For Third Annual DC Farm To School Week"

Transcript & Video: Obama's 2011 Back-To-School Speech: "You've Got A Lot on Your Plates"

President Obama discussed ethics, responsibility, and the value of working hard during his third Back-to-School speech on Wednesday, at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C.. He was accompanied by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The President pointed out that kids today have "a lot on your plates" thanks to both the economic downturn and the pressures of social media. He turned up the heat even more:

"You're not just kids. You’re this country’s future. Whether we fall behind or race ahead in the coming years is up to you," President Obama said.

He also admited that he wasn't a very good student as a kid, and said that ethics was not his favorite subject.

"I’ll let you in on a little secret: I wasn’t always the very best student," President Obama said. "When I was in eighth grade, I had to take a class called “ethics”. Ethics is about right and wrong, but if you’d have asked me what my favorite subject was in eighth grade, I’d have said “basketball.” I don’t think ethics would have made the list."

Mr. Obama attended the Punahou School in Ouahu, Hawaii for 8th grade (he went for 5th-12th grades). The private K-12 school describes itself as “an independent college preparatory day school.” Its mission, according to the website: “To provide an environment where students can: Develop moral and spiritual values consistent with the Christian principles on which Punahou was founded, affirming the worth and dignity of each individual.”



The President had a far closer association with ethics as he got older: He led the Law Review by the time he was at Harvard Law School.

The transcript:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
____________________
For Immediate Release
September 28, 2011

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN BACK-TO-SCHOOL SPEECH

Benjamin Banneker High School
Washington, D.C.

1:48 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Everybody, please have a seat. Well, Madam President, that was an outstanding introduction. (Laughter.) We are so proud of Donae for representing this school so well.

And in addition, I also want to acknowledge your outstanding principal, who has been here for 20 years -- first as a teacher, now as an outstanding principal -- Anita Berger. Please give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want to acknowledge, as well, Mayor Gray is here -- the mayor of Washington, D.C. is here. Please give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) And I also want to thank somebody who is going to go down in history as one of the finest Secretaries of Education that we’ve ever had -- Arne Duncan is here. (Applause.)


Now, it is great to be here at Benjamin Banneker High School, one of the best high schools not only in Washington, D.C., but one of the best high schools in the country. (Applause.) But we’ve also got students tuning in from all across America. And so I want to welcome you all to the new school year, although I know that many of you already have been in school for a while. I know that here at Banneker, you’ve been back at school for a few weeks now. So everything is starting to settle in, just like for all your peers all across the country. The fall sports season is underway. Musicals and marching band routines are starting to shape up, I believe. And your first big tests and projects are probably just around the corner.

I know that you’ve also got a great deal going on outside of school. Your circle of friends might be changing a little bit. Issues that used to stay confined to hallways or locker rooms are now finding their way onto Facebook and Twitter. (Laughter.) Some of your families might also be feeling the strain of the economy. As many of you know, we’re going through one of the toughest economic times that we’ve gone through in our lifetime -- in my lifetime. Your lifetime hasn’t been that long. And so, as a consequence, you might have to pick up an after-school job to help out your family, or maybe you’re babysitting for a younger sibling because mom or dad is working an extra shift.

So all of you have a lot on your plates. You guys are growing up faster and interacting with a wider world in a way that old folks like me, frankly, just didn’t have to. So today, I don’t want to be just another adult who stands up and lectures you like you’re just kids -- because you’re not just kids. You’re this country’s future. You’re young leaders. And whether we fall behind or race ahead as a nation is going to depend in large part on you. So I want to talk to you a little bit about meeting that responsibility.

It starts, obviously, with being the best student that you can be. Now, that doesn’t always mean that you have to have a perfect score on every assignment. It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to get straight As all the time -- although that’s not a bad goal to have. It means that you have to stay at it. You have to be determined and you have to persevere. It means you’ve got to work as hard as you know how to work. And it means that you’ve got to take some risks once in a while. You can’t avoid the class that you think might be hard because you’re worried about getting the best grade if that’s a subject that you think you need to prepare you for your future. You’ve got to wonder. You’ve got to question. You’ve got to explore. And every once in a while, you need to color outside of the lines.

That’s what school is for: discovering new passions, acquiring new skills, making use of this incredible time that you have to prepare yourself and give yourself the skills that you’re going to need to pursue the kind of careers that you want. And that’s why when you’re still a student you can explore a wide range of possibilities. One hour you can be an artist; the next, an author; the next, a scientist, or a historian, or a carpenter. This is the time where you can try out new interests and test new ideas. And the more you do, the sooner you’ll figure out what makes you come alive, what stirs you, what makes you excited -- the career that you want to pursue.

Now, if you promise not to tell anybody, I will let you in on a little secret: I was not always the very best student that I could be when I was in high school, and certainly not when I was in middle school. I did not love every class I took. I wasn’t always paying attention the way I should have. I remember when I was in 8th grade I had to take a class called ethics. Now, ethics is about right and wrong, but if you’d ask me what my favorite subject was back in 8th grade, it was basketball. I don’t think ethics would have made it on the list.

But here’s the interesting thing. I still remember that ethics class, all these years later. I remember the way it made me think. I remember being asked questions like: What matters in life? Or, what does it mean to treat other people with dignity and respect? What does it mean to live in a diverse nation, where not everybody looks like you do, or thinks like you do, or comes from the same neighborhood as you do? How do we figure out how to get along?

Each of these questions led to new questions. And I didn’t always know the right answers, but those discussions and that process of discovery -- those things have lasted. Those things are still with me today. Every day, I’m thinking about those same issues as I try to lead this nation. I’m asking the same kinds of questions about, how do we as a diverse nation come together to achieve what we need to achieve? How do we make sure that every single person is treated with dignity and respect? What responsibilities do we have to people who are less fortunate than we are? How do we make sure that everybody is included in this family of Americans?

Those are all questions that date back to this class that I took back in 8th grade. And here’s the thing: I still don’t always know the answers to all these questions. But if I’d have just tuned out because the class sounded boring, I might have missed out on something that not only did I turn out enjoying, but has ended up serving me in good stead for the rest of my life.

So that’s a big part of your responsibility, is to test things out. Take risks. Try new things. Work hard. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re not good at something right away. You’re not supposed to be good at everything right away. That’s why you’re in school. The idea, though, is, is that you keep on expanding your horizons and your sense of possibility. Now is the time for you to do that. And those are also, by the way, the things that will make school more fun.



Down the road, those will be the traits that will help you succeed, as well -- the traits that will lead you to invent a device that makes an iPad look like a stone tablet. Or what will help you figure out a way to use the sun and the wind to power a city and give us new energy sources that are less polluting. Or maybe you’ll write the next great American novel.

Now, to do almost any of those things, you have to not only graduate from high school, -- and I know I’m just -- I’m in the "amen" corner with Principal Berger here -- not only do you have to graduate from high school, but you’re going to have to continue education after you leave. You have to not only graduate, but you’ve got to keep going after you graduate.

That might mean, for many of you, a four-year university. I was just talking to Donae, and she wants to be an architect, and she’s interning with a architectural firm, and she’s already got her sights set on what school she wants to go to. But it might, for some other folks, be a community college, or professional credentialing or training. But the fact of the matter is, is that more than 60 percent of the jobs in the next decade will require more than a high school diploma -- more than 60 percent. That’s the world you’re walking into.

So I want all of you to set a goal to continue your education after you graduate. And if that means college for you, just getting into college is not enough. You also have to graduate. One of the biggest challenges we have right now is that too many of our young people enroll in college but don’t actually end up getting their degree, and as a consequence -- our country used to have the world’s highest proportion of young people with a college degree; we now rank 16th. I don't like being 16th. I like being number one. That’s not good enough. So we’ve got to use -- we’ve got to make sure your generation gets us back to the top of having the most college graduates relative to the population of any country on Earth.

If we do that, you guys will have a brighter future. And so will America. We’ll be able to make sure the newest inventions and the latest breakthroughs happen right here in the United States of America. It will mean better jobs, and more fulfilling lives, and greater opportunities not only for you, but also for your kids.

So I don’t want anybody who’s listening here today to think that you’re done once you finish high school. You are not done learning. In fact, what’s happening in today’s economy is -- it’s all about lifelong learning. You have to constantly upgrade your skills and find new ways of doing things. Even if college isn't for you, even if a four-year college isn't for you, you’re still going to have to get more education after you get out of high school. You’ve got to start expecting big things from yourself right now.

I know that may sound a little intimidating. And some of you may be wondering how you can pay for college, or you might not know what you want to do with your life yet. And that’s okay. Nobody expects you to have your entire future mapped out at this point. And we don't expect you to have to make it on your own. First of all, you’ve got wonderful parents who love you to death and want you to have a lot more opportunity than they ever had -- which, by the way, means don’t give them a hard time when they ask you to turn off the video games, turn off the TV and do some homework. You need to be listening to them. I speak from experience because that’s what I’ve been telling Malia and Sasha. Don’t be mad about it, because we’re thinking about your future.

You’ve also got people all across this country -- including myself and Arne and people at every level of government -- who are working on your behalf. We’re taking every step we can to ensure that you’re getting an educational system that is worthy of your potential. We’re working to make sure that you have the most up-to-date schools with the latest tools of learning. We’re making sure that this country’s colleges and universities are affordable and accessible to you. We’re working to get the best class -- teachers into the classroom as well, so they can help you prepare for college and a future career.

Let me say something about teachers, by the way. Teachers are the men and women who might be working harder than just about anybody these days. (Applause.) Whether you go to a big school or a small one, whether you attend a public or a private or charter school –- your teachers are giving up their weekends; they’re waking up at dawn; they’re cramming their days full of classes and extra-curricular activities. And then they’re going home, eating some dinner, and then they’ve got to stay up sometimes past midnight, grading your papers and correcting your grammar, and making sure you got that algebra formula properly.

And they don’t do it for a fancy office. They don’t -- they sure don’t do it for the big salary. They do it for you. They do it because nothing gives them more satisfaction than seeing you learn. They live for those moments when something clicks; when you amaze them with your intellect or your vocabulary, or they see what kind of person you’re becoming. And they’re proud of you. And they say, I had something to do with that, that wonderful young person who is going to succeed. They have confidence in you that you will be citizens and leaders who take us into tomorrow. They know you’re our future. So your teachers are pouring everything they got into you, and they’re not alone.

But I also want to emphasize this: With all the challenges that our country is facing right now, we don’t just need you for the future; we actually need you now. America needs young people’s passion and their ideas. We need your energy right now. I know you’re up to it because I’ve seen it. Nothing inspires me more than knowing that young people all across the country are already making their marks. They’re not waiting. They’re making a difference now.

There are students like Will Kim from Fremont, California, who launched a nonprofit that gives loans to students from low-income schools who want to start their own business. Think about that. So he’s giving loans to other students. He set up a non-for-profit. He’s raising the money doing what he loves -- through dodgeball tournaments and capture-the-flag games. But he’s creative. He took initiative. And now he’s helping other young people be able to afford the schooling that they need.

There is a young man, Jake Bernstein, 17 years old, from a military family in St. Louis, worked with his sister to launch a website devoted to community service for young people. And they’ve held volunteer fairs and put up an online database, and helped thousands of families to find volunteer opportunities ranging from maintaining nature trails to serving at local hospitals.

And then last year, I met a young woman named Amy Chyao from Richardson, Texas. She’s 16 years old, so she’s the age of some of you here. During the summer, I think because somebody in her family had an illness, she decided that she was interested in cancer research. She hadn’t taken chemistry yet, so she taught herself chemistry during the summer. And then she applied what she had learned and discovered a breakthrough process that uses light to kill cancer cells. Sixteen years old. It’s incredible. And she's been approached by some doctors and researchers who want to work with her to help her with her discovery.

The point is you don’t have to wait to make a difference. You’re first obligation is to do well in school. You’re first obligation is to make sure that you’re preparing yourself for college and career. But you can also start making your mark right now. A lot of times young people may have better ideas than us old people do anyway. We just need those ideas out in the open, in and out of the classroom.

When I meet young people like yourselves, when I sat and talk to Donae, I have no doubt that America’s best days are still ahead of us, because I know the potential that lies in each of you. Soon enough, you will be the ones leading our businesses and leading our government. You will be the one who are making sure that the next generation gets what they need to succeed. You will be the ones that are charting the course of our unwritten history. And all that starts right now -- starts this year.

So I want all of you who are listening, as well as everybody here at Banneker, I want you to make the most of the year that’s ahead of you. I want you to think of this time as one in which you are just loading up with information and skills, and you’re trying new things and you’re practicing, and you’re honing -- all those things that you’re going to need to do great things when you get out of school.

Your country is depending on you. So set your sights high. Have a great school year. Let’s get to work.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 2:06 P.M. EDT
##

The transcript as prepared for delivery:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
____________________________
For immediate release
September 27, 2011

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

Back-to-School Speech

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School
Washington, D.C.

Hello, everybody! It’s great to be here at Benjamin Banneker High School, one of the best high schools in Washington, D.C. Thank you, Donae, for that introduction. I also want to thank Arne Duncan, our excellent Secretary of Education, for being here with me today.

We’ve got students tuning in from all across America, and so I want to welcome all of you to this new school year. I know that here at Banneker, you’ve been back at school for a few weeks now. So everything’s starting to settle in for you, just like for your peers all across the country. The fall sports seasons are underway. Musicals and marching band routines are shaping up. And your first big tests and projects are probably just around the corner.

I know that you’ve got a lot to deal with outside of school, too. Your circle of friends might be changing. Issues that used to stay confined to hallways or locker rooms now find their way into your Facebook feeds and Twitter accounts. And some of your families might be feeling the strain of this economy. You might have picked up an after-school job to help out, or maybe you’re babysitting for a younger sibling because Mom or Dad is working an extra shift.

So you’ve got a lot on your plates. You guys are growing up faster and interacting with the wider world in a way that old folks like me didn’t have to. So today, I don’t want to be another adult who stands up to lecture you like you’re just kids. Because you’re not just kids. You’re this country’s future. Whether we fall behind or race ahead in the coming years is up to you. And I want to talk to you about meeting that responsibility.

It starts with being the best student you can be. Now, that doesn’t always mean you have to get a perfect score on every assignment. It doesn’t have to mean straight A’s all the time—although that’s a good goal to strive for. It means you have to keep at it. It means you have to work as hard as you know how. And it means that you take some risks once in a while. You wonder. You question. You explore. You color outside the lines every now and then.

That’s what school’s for: discovering new passions and acquiring the skills to pursue those passions in the future. That’s why one hour you can be an artist; the next, an author; the next, a scientist. Or a historian. Or a carpenter. This is the time when you can try out new interests and test new ideas. And the more you do, the sooner you’ll figure out what makes you come alive.

If you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I wasn’t always the very best student. I didn’t love every class I took. I remember when I was in eighth grade, I had to take a class called “ethics”. Ethics is about right and wrong, but if you’d have asked me what my favorite subject was in eighth grade, I’d have said “basketball.” I don’t think ethics would have made the list.

But you know what? I still remember that ethics class. I remember the way it made me think. I remember being asked questions like “What matters in life?” “What does it mean to treat people with respect and dignity?” “What does it mean to live in a diverse nation?” Each question led to a new one, and I didn’t always know the answer right away. But those discussions and that process of discovery are still with me today. Every day, I’m thinking about what those issues mean for us as a nation. I’m asking all sorts of questions just like those. And I’ll let you in on another secret: I still don’t always know the answers. But if I’d have just tuned out because the class sounded boring, I might have missed out on something that I enjoyed and something that’s still useful to me today.

So that’s a big part of your responsibility: Testing things out. Taking risks. Working hard. Engaging with the world around you. Those are the things that will make school more fun. And down the road, those are the traits that will help you succeed – the traits that will lead you to invent a device that makes the iPad look like a stone tablet. Or figure out a way to use the sun and wind to power a city. Or write the next great American novel.

Now, to do almost any of those things, you have to not only graduate from high school, but continue your education after you leave. That might mean a four-year university, a community college, or a professional credential or training, but the fact of the matter is that more than 60 percent of jobs in the next decade will require more than a high school diploma. That’s the world you’re walking into.

So I want all of you to set a goal to continue your education after high school. And if that means college for you, just getting in isn’t enough. You’ve got to finish. Our country used to have the world’s highest proportion of young people with a college degree. Now we’re 16th. That’s not good enough. And so we need your generation to bring us back to the top.

If we do that, you guys will have a brighter future. And so will America. We’ll be able to make sure the newest inventions and latest breakthroughs happen right here in the United States. It means better jobs, more fulfilling lives, and greater opportunities for your kids. So I don’t want anyone listening today to think that once you’re done with high school, you’re done learning. Or that college isn’t for you. You have to start expecting big things for yourself right now.

I know all this can be intimidating. You might be wondering how you’ll pay for college. Or you might not know what you want to do with your life. That’s OK. Nobody expects you to predict the future. And we shouldn’t expect you to make it on your own.

You’ve got your parents. They love you to death and want you to have even more opportunities than they had. So don’t give them a hard time when they ask you to turn off the video games and the television, and sit down to help you with your homework.

You’ve also got people all across this country – including me – working on your behalf. We’re taking every step we can to ensure that you’re getting an educational system that’s worthy of your potential. We’re working to make sure that you have the most up-to-date schools with the latest tools for learning. We’re making sure that our country’s colleges and universities are affordable and accessible. And we’re working to get the best teachers into your classrooms, so they can prepare you for college and a future career.

Now, teachers are the men and women who might be working harder than anybody. Whether you go to a big school or a small one, whether you attend a public, private, or charter school – your teachers are giving up their weekends and waking up at dawn. They’re cramming their days full of classes and extra-curriculars. Then they’re going home, eating some dinner, and staying up past midnight to grade your papers.

And they don’t do it for a fancy office or a big salary. They do it for you. They live for those moments when something clicks, when you amaze them with your intellect and they see the kind of person you can become. They know that you’ll be the citizens and leaders who take us into tomorrow. They know that you’re the future.

But I also want to emphasize this: with all of the challenges that our country faces today, we don’t just need you for the future – we need you now. America needs your passion, your ideas, and your energy right at this moment. I know you’re up to it because I’ve seen it. Nothing inspires me more than knowing that young people all across the country are already making their marks. They’re not waiting for anybody.

They’re students like Will Kim from Fremont, California, who launched a nonprofit that gives loans to students from low-income schools who want to start their own businesses. And he’s raising the money doing what he loves: through dodgeball tournaments and capture-the-flag games.

Jake Bernstein, a 17-year-old from a military family in St. Louis, worked with his sister to launch a website devoted to community service for young people. They’ve held volunteer fairs, put up an online database, and helped thousands of families find volunteer opportunities that range from maintaining nature trails to serving at local hospitals.

And last year, I met a young woman named Amy Chyao from Richardson, Texas. At just 16 years old, she discovered a breakthrough process that uses light to kill cancer cells. It’s incredible – and she’s been approached by some doctors and researchers who want to work with her to develop her discovery.

So, just like Will, Jake, and Amy, you don’t have to wait to make your mark. A lot of the time, you’ve got better ideas than the rest of us anyway. We just need those ideas out in the open, in and out of the classroom.

I have no doubt that America’s best days are ahead of us because I know the potential that lies inside each one of you. Soon enough, you’ll be the ones leading our businesses and our government; you’ll be the ones charting the course of our unwritten history. All of that starts this year. Right now. So I want you all to make the most of this year ahead of you. Your country is depending on you. So set your sights high. Have a great school year. And let’s get to work.

##

*Photo by Pete Souza/White House
read more "Transcript & Video: Obama's 2011 Back-To-School Speech: "You've Got A Lot on Your Plates""