President and Mrs. Obama tonight took three lucky small-dollar campaign donors out to dinner in Washington, D.C., the prize in a campaign sweepstakes that offered “Dinner with Barack” for a gift of $5 or more.
The winners — ReGina Newkirk, a nonprofit executive from Nashville, Tenn.; Cathleen Loringer, a former social worker from Wauwatosa, Wisc.; and Judy Glassman, a retired school administrator from Cambridge, Mass. — were each flown in with a guest of their choice to share in a meal and conversation with the president.
The First Couple hosted the event at a newly-opened American bistro in the District’s northeast quarter, Boundary Road, which serves “simply, carefully prepared meals highlighting local ingredients in a comfortable and convivial atmosphere, with an exciting libation menu,” according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Among the libations is a featured cocktail called “I’m Thinking About Getting a Vespa,” which includes Aperol, Cocchi Americano, blood orange and sparkling wine. The menu features grilled hangar steak and seared arctic char with prices for entrees ranging from $16 to $23.
The event marks the third time Obama has hosted dinner with grassroots donors, and the first time Michelle Obama came along.
The Obama campaign says it sees the events as a way to highlight the significant financial contributions from grassroots supporters, and encourage more to open their wallets. Another “Dinner with Barack” sweepstakes is already under way on the campaign’s website.
Nearly half — 48 percent — of the $118 million total Obama raised for his reelection in 2011 came from donors of $200 or less in aggregate, according to an analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute. The average donation was $55, according to the Obama campaign.
While the White House press corps is not allowed to watch the entire meal, the Obama campaign’s cameras have captured some of the conversations from past events. You can see our reporting on them HERE and HERE.