Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Dinner and an Obama: The winners"

Chicago Tribune:
After "thousands" of entries, Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign has selected the winners of a competition (and fundraising gimmick) for a chance to have dinner with the Illinois Democrat.
Of the four winners, two are from states that will hold primaries or caucuses in January. They include a miner from Nevada, the wife of a soldier serving in Iraq from Louisiana, a mentor for young people in the Bronx and a former Republican who is working as a firefighter and paramedic in Florida.

The dinner will take place in July at a restaurant in Washington, DC. Transportation and accommodations will be paid for by the campaign.

The campaign refused to say how many participated, or how much was raised through the effort. The June 30 deadline for second-quarter fundraising is rapidly approaching, and this was one of the ways Obama's campaign sought to run up its total for online contributions.

“I am looking forward to sitting down with this group of four people who are representative of the millions of voices that have been drowned out by the special interests in Washington,” Obama said in a statement. “This dinner is about hearing from the everyday experts on how we can work together to change the problems facing this country today.”

A week ago, the campaign kicked off an online program that asked people to tell the campaign about themselves. Participants were selected from a group who submitted their personal stories along with a donation as small as $5 on the campaign's website.

The winners and their bios, as reported by the campaign:

Haile Rivera (Bronx, N.Y.): He works as a community program specialist with the Food Bank for New York City during the day which includes work with food pantries, youth programs and soup kitchens. In his spare time, he founded “Hands on New York,” a non-profit organization in New York City dedicated to getting school age kids involved in civics.

Michael Griffith (Fernley, Nevada): He is a miner in western Nevada whose health care costs have tripled over recent years. This is his first time donating or participating in politics and he felt that as his family grew, so did his concern with the direction of the country.

Margaret Thomas-Jordan (Gonzales, La.): She is a working mother of two boys, age nineteen months and eleven years and she is attending school to become a nurse. Her husband was shipped to Iraq last month and he is currently serving a 15-month tour. Health care costs have grown especially difficult for her and she is struggling with access to health care because she does not qualify as a traditional student.

Jennifer Lasko (Lake Worth, Fla.): She used to be an active member of the Republican Party and was a member of the College Republicans at Cornell University. She served as an officer in the army after graduating and is now a full time firefighter and paramedic in Lake Worth. The last campaign she participated in was Reagan-Bush in 1984.



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