Bloomberg News

Obama Dines With Four Winners of 2012 Campaign Donor Contest

October 27, 2011

(For more news on the presidential campaign, see ELECT.)

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama shared a casual dinner at a suburban Washington restaurant with four winners of a contest put on by his re-election campaign.

The president was overheard asking his guests where they were from as the group sat along a rectangular table on the second floor of Liberty Tavern in Arlington, Virginia. Reporters were permitted to observe the gathering for a few minutes before being ushered out of the restaurant.

Retired teacher Juanita Martinez from Brighton, Colorado, artist and retired professor Wendi Smith from Corydon, Indiana, U.S. Postal worker Ken Knight from Chandler, Arizona, and entrepreneur and small-business owner Casey Helbling from Minneapolis, Minnesota, all won the chance to have dinner with the president after donating at least $5 to his campaign or entering the online contest in June.

In keeping with the restaurant’s understated décor, the president wore slacks and a light blue shirt with his sleeves rolled up. According to the menu, “Liberty Tavern classics” include Amish chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes for $19 and Pineland Farms skirt steak with Guinness steak sauce for $20.

When Knight told the president he was from Chandler, Obama recalled that he had been to the town near where the Chicago Cubs baseball team conducts its spring training camp.

Campaign E-Mail

On June 15, Obama’s campaign sent out an e-mail to supporters telling them that if they donated $5 or more through June 30 they would be in the running to be one of four people picked to have dinner with the president. The campaign offered to pay the air fare and pick up the dinner check for Obama’s guests, according to the e-mail. Contestants could also enter their information online without making a contribution.

“This won’t be a formal affair,” Obama wrote in the e- mail, signed “Barack.” “It’s the kind of casual meal among friends that I don’t get to have as often as I’d like anymore, so I hope you’ll consider joining me.”

Obama returned yesterday from a trip to the West Coast where he raised at least $5 million at six fundraisers. According to the latest filings through September, Obama has taken in $89 million for his 2012 campaign. From July through September, he raised $42.8 million for his re-election.

--With assistance from Jonathan Salant in Washington. Editors: Jim Rubin, Don Frederick

To contact the reporters on this story: Matt Bok in Washington at; Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at

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