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Politics

A campaign fundraiser for just $25? Yep.

By ADAM C. SMITH
Published April 12, 2007


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photo
[AP Photo]
Barack Obama speaks during a rally last week in Mason City, Iowa.

In a state known as an ATM for national political campaigns, there's nothing remotely unusual about a visit from a presidential candidate. These days they're in Florida - often several at a time - pretty much every week.

But Democrat Barack Obama comes to Tampa Sunday for a different kind of fundraiser. Rather than writing a check for $1,000 or more to see a private speech and munch on cheese cubes, people can see Obama at the Cuban Club in Ybor City for $25.

"It may be novel for some campaigns, but not Barack Obama," said Tampa businessman Frank Sanchez, an Obama adviser and Tampa Bay leader helping to organize the local campaign. "He has to raise money, but he also wants to reach out and touch people and get them energized."

Sanchez hopes to draw more than 1,500.

Helping energize the Obama fans and people just kicking the tires of the campaign will be 45 members of the famed Florida A&M marching band. The campaign will pay its travel expenses.

Organizers expect at least 100 people also will pay $2,300 each to attend a private fundraising reception for the candidate at the south Tampa home of Norma Jean Lykes.

Those higher-priced events not only raise more money but are much easier to organize than low-priced events that require facilities and staff to handle big crowds. The idea is to raise money, but equally important is to generate buzz and excitement.

"This is not like any campaign I've been a part of because you have so many people who are invested," said Kirk Wager, a Miami lawyer leading Obama's Florida fundraising efforts. "People want to feel that every dollar they're investing in the campaign helps get the message out, and we want to make sure that everybody who wants to help has that opportunity."

Democrat John Edwards is scheduled to make public campaign appearances tonight in Jacksonville and Saturday in Fort Myers. He is scheduled to hold private fundraisers throughout the state Friday. Hillary Clinton's last Tampa Bay campaign stop included private fundraisers - one for $1,000 per couple and another for $4,600 per couple.

Obama also held $25 events in Louisville Ky. and Oklahoma City, and $100 per person fundraisers in Tallahassee and West Palm Beach.

"We were hoping for a $100 rally, and they gave us $25. I think it was a gift and testament to the importance of the I-4 corridor," said Democratic activist Megan Foster of Tampa. "Normally it's people in our regular political circles, but we're seeing these are all new faces."

If you go

Tickets to Sunday's Obama fundraiser/rally in Ybor City are available at www.barackobama.com or by calling (813)258-2224.

[Last modified April 12, 2007, 01:18:30]


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