Going ‘Backstage with Barack’

He’s not boy-band extraordinaire Justin Timberlake, but Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, has backstage passes, too.

In a missive sent to Obama supporters Wednesday morning, fresh from the “mountain air” of Denver, the campaign offers voters the chance to contribute $25. In return, the supporter becomes eligible for an all-expense-paid trip to Denver for the last two days of the convention.

The campaign will select 10 lucky supporters from around the country; each can bring one guest.

The Obama campaign will provide airfare, accommodations and two days of convention activities — including a “private meeting with Barack before his historic speech.”

Donate $25 today, the note says, and you could go “Backstage with Barack.” The statement was sent from Steve Hildebrand, deputy campaign manager for Obama for America.


Sen. Sanders cleans up his yard

Since he learned that some of his neighbors were miffed about his weed-ridden yard, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has groomed it.

ITK salutes Sanders on his newfound weeding abilities. At the time of the complaints, the senator declared he had more important Senate responsibilities to attend to, rather than the out-of-control fronds sprouting in his yard.

Still, one night last month, three workers were spotted weed-whacking. The chore took less than an hour.

No word from the senator’s office on what inspired Sanders to have his weeds pulled. “Did you hear about the economy collapsing?” wrote Sanders spokesman Mike Briggs. “Or about home heating fuel prices skyrocketing? That’s what the senator is focused on.”

 

Serrano staffer: ‘It felt like someone was punching me in the thighs’

Rep. José Serrano’s (D-N.Y.) communications director Philip Schmidt and three local teammates biked from coast to coast in the recent Race Across America event — and won.

Schmidt’s team, known as Xtreme4, won the event’s four-person mixed team division with a time of six days, four hours and 18 minutes, beating the second-place mixed team by nearly a day.

How did it feel to bike such a long distance?

“The first couple of days, it felt like someone was punching me in the thighs,” Schmidt said. He treated himself with ice and Advil until his legs adjusted to their intense workload.

Schmidt used reinforcement — both positive and negative — to get himself through the race. His Hill office was very supportive, he says, and the several dogs that chased him also provided a boost of energy.

Schmidt was aided by Laurel Brown, a press assistant for the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Erica Price, a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, whom he calls his “personal assistants.” Brown and Price were part of the team’s crew and had to look after Schmidt’s meals — he ate five a day, plus snacks — riding schedule, health needs and anything else he required.

Schmidt and his team entered the race to raise awareness for carbon-neutral transportation methods. He says he’ll do another cross-country race, but only if he doesn’t have to worry about logistics.

“I just want to be … a prima donna pro rider,” he said.

Schmidt is training for an IronMan triathlon race in September.

 

Pat Boone doesn’t want to pay taxes on his death

Singer and actor Pat Boone got all dolled up in an off-white suit, lavender shirt, multicolored striped tie, blood-red pocket square and white boots to bring this message to the National Press Club Wednesday: He doesn’t want to pay taxes on his death.

Boone, 74, a spokesman for the 60 Plus Association advocating for senior citizens, appeared with Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist and others to grouse about government spending at an event they called Cost of Government Day. He said this of Norquist: “I salute the paramedic of the economy, Grover Norquist.”

While other speakers focused on the prospect of a national health insurance, a well-tanned and flaxen-haired Boone expressed concern over taxes related to death — particularly his own.

“The closer I get to [death], the less I like the idea,” he joked.

Boone poked fun at his age after being introduced as an entertainer who has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The singer, known for covering R&B songs, said he has three stars partially because “I was already there” when it was created in 1958.