Sunday, September 4, 2011

Video: Behind The Scenes At President Obama's Lunch At Ted's Bulletin

Campaign volunteer calls eating with the President "the true demonstration of what the American dream should be..."
On Wednesday, August 10th, President Obama slipped out of the White House to have lunch with six volunteers working on his 2012 re-election campaign. During the outing that wasn't noted on his official schedule, the President dined on a cheeseburger, fries, and salad at Capitol Hill eatery Ted's Bulletin. The lunch was closed to press except for a quick photo op, and the conversation was off the record. Until now: On Saturday, Jeremy Bird, National Field Director for Obama for America, sent a special Labor Day e-mail to supporters with a video of the lunch, in which the President's guests hail him in glowing terms. Bird equates President Obama's grassroots election campaign with America's organized labor movement, and cites the annual US holiday as a turning point for the election campaign. (Above: The President seated between two of his guests, who both speak in the video)

"Labor Day has added significance in the political calendar -- it's seen as the moment when the race for the Republican nomination will really heat up," Bird writes, and asks for volunteers to sign up, and/or make a minimum donation of $5.

In the video, the President tells his volunteers about his hopes for the "grassroots" campaign, and they respond by weighing in with lauds about having lunch with the Commander in Chief.

"For me, this lunch--it was the true demonstration of what the American dream should be," says Victoria Kirby, a summer organizer from Washington, DC.

"It's a very casual atmosphere where you feel like you're talking to a member of the family," Kathleen McKevitt, a volunteer from Idaho, says about lunching with the President.

Dining with the President as the American Dream is something Obama for America hopes donors love: The "Dinner with Barack II" sweepstakes is currently being run as a campaign fundraiser. It's the second time the opportunity to dine with President Obama is being used to woo donors.

The six volunteers won their lunch with the President thanks to an essay contest about organizing sponsored by Obama for America. The President's companions also included Oscar De Los Santis, California Summer Organizer, who also speaks in the video; Nora Fee, Oregon Summer Organizer; Celeste Rotunda, of Florida and Henry Sha, of Pennsylvania. Obama for America National Training Director Sara El Amine hosted the lunch, which featured Ted's locally famous homemade pop tarts, decorated with little American and Illinois flags.

While the lunch, which started at 12:44 and ended at 1:57 was not listed on the President's official schedule for the day, he fit it in between the daily Presidential Briefing in the morning and Oval Office meetings with Cabinet Secretaries Tim Geithner and Hillary Clinton in the afternoon. That night at the White House, President Obama hosted an Iftar Dinner to celebrate Ramadan.

The full text of Bird's e-mail:

The subject heading was "Can you organize in [your city name here]?"


A couple weeks ago, President Obama sat down for lunch with six of the campaign's summer organizers to thank them for their work and share some of the lessons he learned when he was a first-time community organizer himself.

He made the time because organizing is at the heart of this movement. It's how we're building our operation from the ground up over the next 14 months.

As we pause this weekend to celebrate the working men and women in our country who fought for the right to organize, it's worth taking a few minutes to listen to what the President had to say -- and think about how we'll organize this campaign in the months to come.

Check out this video from the President's lunch to hear him speak in his own words about what it means to organize. Then will you sign up to be a volunteer for 2012 in Washington?

[video here]

Yes, I'll sign up to volunteer. [link included]

Not right now, but I'll chip in $5 to help the campaign. [link included]

Labor Day has added significance in the political calendar -- it's seen as the moment when the race for the Republican nomination will really heat up.

That means we need to be prepared for even more false attacks on the President's record as our prospective opponents try to build their own campaigns.

But we'll win this election the same way we won the last one: through people stepping up locally, taking the lead in the communities they know best.

Some supporters will dedicate months to this campaign, while others will pop in for a few volunteer shifts here and there. Any time and expertise you can share helps grow this organization -- and brings people together to make our country greater.

That's a strategy our prospective opponents won't follow.

Watch the video, then sign up to volunteer in your community: [link]

Our job from now until November 2012 is to keep working to bring more people into the political process. And that begins and ends with organizing.

Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend.


Jeremy Bird
National Field Director
Obama for America

This campaign isn't funded by Washington lobbyists or corporate interests. We rely on donations from people like you. You should donate today.

Info: Ted's Bulletin is at 505 8th Street SE, Washington, DC, 20003. Phone: 202.544.8337.

*Getty photos

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