January 6th, 2012
03:59 PM ET
It was a casual Friday lunch for a teacher, an Afghanistan war veteran, a postal worker and a fireman. And their dining partner–none other than the President of the United States.
The four won a contest sponsored by the president's re-election campaign designed to encourage grassroots contributions.
The Scion restaurant in the trendy DC neighborhood of DuPont Circle was the location for the lunch and a quick photo-op.
According to the pool report, Mr. Obama, wearing no suit jacket and shirtsleeves rolled up, made small talk with the winners in the empty restaurant.
It turns out three of the lunch-goers are from key swing states in the 2012 election; Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina. The fourth is from Georgia, which went for John McCain in the last election.
The White House identified them as Kathie Toigo, an early-childhood special needs teacher fromYerington, Nevada, Bill Blackwelder, an Army Reservist who served in Afghanistan from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Val Grossmann a postal worker fromWestminster, Colorado and Scott Zoebisch, a firefighter from Atlanta,Georgia.
An Obama campaign official tells CNN this is the second "Dinner with Barack" contest they've run in this election cycle, similar to those held in 2008.
Highlighting examples of their grassroots efforts, the Obama campaign website shows 81% of donations have been for $50 or less, 98% were contributions of $250 or less. Since the president announced this past spring his intention to run for re-election, nearly 983,000 individuals have made donations and for 258,000 of them, it was their first contribution.
The Democratic National Committee together with the Obama campaign has raised a combined $156 million through September of 2011. Contributions from the last three months are not yet available from the Federal Election Commission.
with additional reporting from Gabriella Schwarz