First lady courts LGBT donors over lunch


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a rousing convention speech Tuesday night that, among other things, commended LGBT Americans for their courage to marry, Michelle Obama spent about an hour Wednesday at a downtown Charlotte Marriott courting well-heeled gay donors.

According to one political consultant and LGBT activist there, she knocked it out of the park. “It was like a conversation in a living room almost,” said Palm Springs, Calif. LGBT activist and political consultant Greg Rodriguez.

That may be important, as a recent analysis showed that one in six bundlers for President Obama are gay. Another report identified 33 gay bundlers.

Obama's "evolution" on gay marriage–which he opposed when running in 2008 but embraced in May 2012–came after some big contributors said they would withhold their support over the issue.

The lunch was put on by the Victory Fund, a political action committee meant to recruit and elect LGBT candidates, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Rodriguez, who is on the board of the National Stonewall Democrats, said the lunch was skimpy on food – serving two cheese slices and some vegetables on a plate, perhaps in a nod to Obama’s healthy eating campaign – but heavy on cheerleading.

“If you haven’t maxed out, please max out,” the First Lady said, according to Rodriguez, likely referring to the maximum $35,800 that individuals can give to the Obama Victory Fund this year.

He said there were certainly super PAC donors there, a wealthy class that Democratic outside groups are working hard to court this week, though he declined to say who they were. In all, he estimated that there were about 200 people at the event.

More than anything, it was a get-out-the-vote speech, Rodriguez said. She urged the crowd to go volunteer their time in swing states.