By Mary Ann Akers
President-elect Barack Obama made a surprise appearance on a conference call with major donors to his Presidential Inaugural Committee today, sharing a fun little outing he had with his girls the other night.
First, Obama thanked everyone for relinquishing their cash in such hard times to help fund his historic five-day celebration. Despite the dismal economy and the super heightened security that will force celebrants at his inauguration --even top donors -- outside for many hours on end Tuesday morning, Obama told everyone on the call to stay focused on "havin' some fun, making history."
According to one Sleuth informant who joined the call, who asked to remain anonymous for fear the leak-proof Obama team will retaliate, Obama told the finance team "as tough as these times are" and as worried as people may be about the economy, their contributions will go a long way to helping create the kind of five-day celebration Obama hopes will be an "antidote to some of the gloom."
He lightened the mood by telling them about taking his daughters, Malia and Sasha, to the Lincoln Memorial one night this week. They looked at the statue, read the Gettysburg address inscribed on one wall and Lincoln's second inaugural address inscribed on the other.
According to our conference call informant, Obama said Sasha, who is 7 years old, stared at Lincoln's second inaugural address and said, "Looks long." She asked if her dad's speech would be that long.
To which Malia, 10, replied, "First African-American president, better be good."
Besides thanking them for underwriting his inauguration, Obama cautioned his inaugural donors to "be patient" and advised them to stay "bundled up."
Obama surprised the finance team by joining the conference call toward the end, after some griping from top donors -- who are giving anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 to help underwrite the massive, star-studded celebration -- about transportation logistics (there are none, really) and security. One issue of particular concern focused on bottled water, which law enforcement officials have banned at the swearing-in ceremony.
Presidential Inaugural Committee staff who conducted the conference call told donors to arrive at the checkpoints to the swearing-in ceremony at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning. Obama isn't scheduled to take the oath of office until noon, which means they'll be standing in the cold -- and it is expected to be bitter -- for five hours with no water.The big donors won't have access to a place for them to warm up inside the Capitol. If they leave the security perimeter, they'll have to get in the back of a long line that will likely trail for many city blocks. In other words, there is parity in security: there will be no separate line for the wealthy donors funding all of the parties that come before and after the swearing-in ceremony.
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