- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CHICAGO | With the cameras turned off and the adoring crowd waning after his historic acceptance speech in Chicago’s Grant Park, Barack Obama commanded one of his first meetings as President-elect. It wasn’t with world leaders or potential Cabinet leaders or members of Congress. Rather, it was with the big donors and fund-raisers who fueled his historic political money machine.

Just two hours after leaving the stage at Chicago’s Grant Park, the Democrat huddled in a private tent with the members of his National Finance Committee who helped him raise more than a half billion dollars to run for the White House. Reporters weren’t alerted to the event, no press pool was formed to cover his remarks and when members of the news media attempted to get in the tent to cover his words, they were turned away. His comments weren’t audible from outside the tent where reporters were held at bay.

Mr. Obama’s team also transformed his Web site into an opportunity to raise money for his party. Early Wednesday morning, BarackObama.com posted a thank-you page that solicited donations for the Democratic National Committee. The home page featured a photo of Mr. Obama and vice president-elect Joe Biden waving, along with “Thank you” in Mr. Obama’s handwriting and the words, “Change can happen.”

After the President-elect spoke to the packed tent of some staffers, high-level donors and stars, including Will.i.am, Mr. Obama worked a small ropeline that had formed outside. One man who knows Mr. Obama, a senator from Illinois, shook his son awake who had been sleeping on his shoulder. “Can you wake up, he’s almost here,” the man told his son.

Mr. Obama offered the man a warm smile, greeted his sleepy son and asked everyone in the line how they were doing. Most patted him on the arm. Michelle Obama was close behind greeting the group as well.

Also keeping to his pattern of reaching out to supporters before he spoke to the general public, Mr. Obama wrote to his massive e-mail list before taking the stage last night.

He told his supporters he was on his way to Grant Park and “I wanted to write to you first.”

“We just made history. And I don’t want you to forget how we did it,” the president-elect wrote.

“You made history every single day during this campaign — every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it’s time for change,” he wrote. “I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign. We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch soon about what comes next.”

He closed in thanks with: “But I want to be very clear about one thing … All of this happened because of you.”

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