WASHINGTON — Minneapolis tech entrepreneur Casey Helbling was one of four Barack Obama donors to win a raffled-off dinner with the president, a contest the campaign made good on Thursday night when Obama and his guests dined at Arlington, Va.’s Liberty Tavern.
The Obama campaign ran the “Dinner with Barack” promotion during the summer, encouraging supporters to donate $5 (or more, of course) to the campaign and enter into a raffle to win a casual, personal dinner with the president and Vice President Joe Biden (who was unable to attend since he is traveling in the Middle East). The Obama campaign paid for the dinner and the flights to Washington.
Obama and his guests spent a little more than an hour at dinner. A White House pool reporter describes the event as such:
“It’s a pleasant cafe/restaurant, with a green-and-white neon sign outside and cobwebs decorating the windows for Halloween.
“The president was upstairs, seated at a rectangular dark wood table with four supporters who won a campaign raffle contest to have dinner with him. The president was wearing slacks and a light-blue shirt with the cuffs rolled up.
“They are: Juanita Martinez, a retired teacher from Brighton, Colo.; Wendi Smith, an artist and retired professor from Corydon, Ind.; Ken Knight, a U.S. Postal worker from Chandler, Ariz.,; and Casey Helbling, an entrepreneur and small business owner from Minneapolis, Minn.
“… Mr. Knight was telling the president about himself, and could be heard saying something about Michael Jordan the basketball player, a reference at which the president smiled.
“Wendi Smith could be heard telling the president that her town is in southern Indiana and was the first capital of the state, which seemed to surprise the president.”
Following the meal, Helbling provided a recap on Twitter:
“For those who want deets-he ate house salad and swordfish. I ate nystrip. Chef prepared a mini Chicago dog for each of us.
The campaign ran another “Dinner with Barack” contest in September, before a critical fundraising deadline at the end of the month. Entries for that raffle have closed.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry