Winning a dinner with the president
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dine in a DC restaurant Thursday evening with winners of an Obama campaign contest.
March 8th, 2012
07:38 PM ET

Winning a dinner with the president

Maybe it's not winning the Powerball lottery but dinner and some serious conversation with the leader of the free world does rank up there. Three lucky supporters and their guests dined with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at a small Washington DC restaurant Thursday night.

It's all part of the campaign's effort to attract grassroots supporters' donations.The president has spent many evenings in the past months rubbing elbows with high dollar donors who pay as much as $35,000 for a chance to have dinner with him.

But the concept of "Dinner with Barack" and tonight's "Dinner with Barack and Michelle" is for the president to be able to talk "with a few of the people who have taken ownership of this campaign," according to a Democratic campaign official.

Tonight's winners included a non-profit executive from Nashville, Tennessee, ReGina Newkirk, a former social worker from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Cathleen Loringer, and a retired school administrator from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Judy Glassman. Each was allowed to bring one guest.

March 8th, 2012
06:03 PM ET

Obama to kick off March Madness Tuesday

A White House official tells Dan Lothian President Obama will attend the first game of NCAA's March Madness next Tuesday in Dayton Ohio. And he'll be bringing along a special guest: British Prime Minister David Cameron.

From the White House official:

On March 13, as part of the State Visit of United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron to the United States, and to emphasize the special relationship between our two nations President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron will attend a first round game during the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship First Four at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio.   The University of Dayton Arena is steeped in basketball history, serving as the stage for many great tournament moments and as host to more Division I men’s games than any other arena in the country.  The President and the Prime Minister look forward to a great game between some of our nation’s finest collegiate athletes.  More details will be released in the coming days.

Topics: President Obama
March 8th, 2012
10:37 AM ET

New Breitbart Video Sparks Debate

At the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart promised a crowd of activists damning videos of President Barack Obama as a student at Harvard Law School. The videos, Breitbart said, would show people “why racial division and class warfare are central to what 'hope and change' was sold in 2008.”

“In this election we're going to vet him,” Breitbart vowed.

At the time, all he would say about the content of the videos was that they proved the president “met a bunch of silver pony-tails back in the 1980s, like Bill [Ayers] and Bernadine Dohrn who said ‘one day, we're going to have the presidency.’”

Breitbart passed away just a few weeks after his announcement at CPAC, but on Wednesday his website continued the so-called ‘vetting’ that its founder had promised by releasing a video of Obama as a law student introducing former Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell. As the first tenured black professor at Harvard Law School, Bell was something of a firebrand regarding civil rights, even going so far as to take an unpaid leave of absence from Harvard to protest the school’s lack of racial and gender diversity within its tenured faculty.

In the video, Obama asks a crowd to “open up your hearts and your minds to the words of Professor Derrick Bell.”

On Thursday morning Joel Pollack,’s editor-in-chief, appeared on CNN’s Starting Point to defend the importance of the video. FULL POST

Topics: President Obama
Obama Campaign Releasing Movie Trailer
Tom Hanks - photographed here in the White House movie theater with President Obama before a screening of the HBO miniseries "The Pacific" on March 11, 2010 - narrates a new 17-minute documentary on Obama's first term in office. The film will be released by the Obama campaign on March 15. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
March 8th, 2012
08:09 AM ET

Obama Campaign Releasing Movie Trailer

Team Obama is releasing a movie trailer Thursday, followed by a debut of a 17-minute campaign film next week. The film, "The Road We've Traveled," comes out on March 15 and will chronicle the president's first term in office, campaign officials said.

But the trailer - just like with real movies - comes out Thursday .

The trailer is narrated by Tom Hanks, who asks, "How do we understand this president and his time in office? Do we look at the day's headlines, or do we remember what we as a country have been through?" In interviews, senior strategist David Axelrod, former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Vice President Joe Biden and others recall the behind-the-scenes discussions about the economic crisis, health care reform, the auto industry bailout and the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

"His advisers would ask: Where to begin? Which urgent need would he put first?" Hanks asks.

Breaking up the interviews are now-iconic images of the president accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in Denver and speaking in Chicago's Grant Park on election night. It also includes close-ups of Obama and his White House team in what appear to be exceptionally tense meetings.

If the message isn't clear, the graphics spell it out: "This is a film about determination and progress." Campaign manager Jim Messina says the film is about the president's first-term accomplishments. Like other campaign films, it's clearly intended to build a campaign narrative. Based on the trailer, it seems that narrative is, at least in part, about a president who managed unexpected crises with resolve and a steady hand.

Campaign officials said they'll show the movie at house parties and events across the country. The film is by Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim, who also made the president's 2008 campaign documentaries.

Check out the trailer here.


Republican National Committee spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski had this to say about the Obama campaign's new video:

“The American people don't need a movie trailer or a 17 minute documentary to know what the president accomplished over the past three years. Unfortunately Americans feel Obama’s accomplishments each and every day after President Obama led our country to higher unemployment, record debt, and higher gas prices. The question is what does another Obama term mean for America? From the promise of fewer jobs, tax increases, more debt, and the implementation of Obamacare, we literally cannot afford another four years of President Obama.”

Topics: Campaign
Analysis: Same-sex marriage trouble for the Democrats?
March 8th, 2012
07:47 AM ET

Analysis: Same-sex marriage trouble for the Democrats?

(CNN) – Same-sex marriage could become a nettlesome issue for Democrats this election year. On Wednesday the Chair of the Democratic Convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said he believes same-sex marriage should be included in the Democratic Party platform but the Obama campaign is trying to put the issue off to another day.

Democrats are divided over how to handle same-sex marriage at the Democratic convention. Six states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage, and some Democratic activists are pushing for its inclusion in the party platform. But the president has not come out in support of same-sex marriage and has said his position on the issue is "evolving."

Convention Chair Villaraigosa brought the party debate into public view during a Washington DC event when Politico's Mike Allen asked if be believes the Democratic Convention should include a marriage equality plank. "I do," Villaraigosa replied, "We want to make this the most accessible convention possible. This just isn't going to be open to a small group of people. On two of the four days there will be an opportunity for a much larger representation of people from all over the country to participate in our convention. The delegates will make the decision on the platform but I do support it and certainly have for a long time."

Read the rest of the story on CNN's Political Ticker

Topics: Uncategorized
Daily Briefing March 8
March 8th, 2012
07:40 AM ET

Daily Briefing March 8

The 1600 Report's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:

Syrian crackdown ongoing despite high-level defection (CNN Wire)

Iran urged to enter 'serious' nuclear dialogue (BBC News)

Man barred from entering City Hall wins race for mayor (Reuters)

60% of Greek Bond Holders Committed to Debt Swap (Bloomberg)

Optimism on Greece and job market (CNN Money)

House considering ban on late-term abortions in NH (AP)

POTUS Day Ahead: Ghanaian President, Campaign Dinner
March 8th, 2012
07:26 AM ET

POTUS Day Ahead: Ghanaian President, Campaign Dinner

Today President Obama welcomes President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana for a meeting in the Oval Office. Ghana is celebrating 55 years of independence this week and has had democratic civil rule since 1992. Thursday's visit comes nearly two years after the president made an historic visit to Ghana in 2009, Obama's first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as president. Later this evening, the president and first lady will head out to dinner in Washington D.C. with winners of a campaign fundraising contest.

Here's the full schedule:

11:15AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

12:00PM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press

3:30PM THE PRESIDENT hosts President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana for a meeting
Oval Office
Pool Spray at the Bottom with Statements (Final Gather 3:45PM – Brady Press Briefing Room)

5:35PM THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY have dinner with winners of a campaign contest
Washington, DC
In-Town Travel Pool Spray (Final Gather 5:00PM – North Doors of the Palm Room)

Briefing Schedule:

12:30PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

Topics: Daily Schedule