An African-American man has achieved what many can only dream of: a cozy chat over lunch with President Barack Obama.
Scott Zoebisch, a 34-year-old firefighter from Atlanta, joined three other grassroots supporters for a meal with the president at a trendy Asian-American restaurant called the Scion in Washington DC.
The four diners, who all hail from 2012 battleground states, were winners of his re-election campaign’s “Dinner with Barack” fundraising sweepstakes, where donors had to give at least $3 to enter a drawing to secure a sit down meal with Obama.
WATCH FOOTAGE FROM THE MEAL WITH THE PRESIDENT HERE:
“I never thought in my life I’d ever sit next to a president, let alone a black president,” Zoebisch told theGrio. “It was a chance for me to express my gratitude. We all told him we were ready to stand up and fight for him to get back in office.”
Other winners were Kathie Toigo, who is an early-childhood special needs teacher from Nevada; Bill Blackwelder, an Afghanistan war veteran from North Carolina; and Val Grossmann, a postal worker from Colorado.
“He was humble, engaging and wanted to know if his policies had impacted our lives,” says Zoebisch reflecting on his interaction with Obama on Friday. “He was also interested in our families and local communities.”
Zoebisch, who lives with his wife and two children, aged 3 and 6, says he told Obama that his little girl had a question for him. “She wanted to know what it’s like to be president.”
Obama said at times it wasn’t an easy job, but he was fighting for the country to get back on track, says Zoebisch.
The small media contingent that travels with the president was allowed into the restaurant briefly for a photo op of Obama chatting to his supporters in the otherwise empty restaurant.
Zoebisch cites his mother, who passed away in 2002, as inspiration. She grew up in the segregated South, was passionate about politics and ran the voting booth at a local church.
He says on the day of the 2008 presidential election he woke up at the crack of dawn to be first in line to vote, though to his disappointment, despite getting up at 5 a.m. 19 people were already in the queue.
When Obama was elected, Zoebisch, who was in the firehouse in Atlanta, had tears in his eyes, and explained to a coworker, “You have no idea how much this would have meant to my Mom.”
His mother always believed that there would be a black president someday and told Zoebisch he’d be the first. Zoebisch says he’s raising his kids to believe they can be president. “Now they have an example to follow.”
The meal is the president’s second “Dinner with Barack” contest they’ve run in this election cycle, similar to those held in 2008. In October Obama took the first four contest winners to dinner at a cafe in suburban Virginia.
Winners’ expenses for travel, overnight stay — and their meal — are covered by the campaign.
The Obama re-election campaign has offered the meals with the president, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to boost online contributions.
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