Obama's birthday: a time to fundraise, count gray hairs

President Obama's birthday, No. 49, is an occasion for the Democratic Party to fundraise and rally the grass roots. Obama himself has been taking note of his graying hair.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Barack Obama during his town hall meeting with Young African leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday. President Obama's 49th birthday is Wednesday, Aug. 4, and is an occasion for the Democratic Party to fundraise and rally the grass roots.

We all know that age is just a number. But when you’re president of the United States, it’s hard to forget when that special day is approaching.

That’s particularly the case when the big day, Aug. 4, falls just three months before crucial midterm elections. Organizing for America (OFA), the grass-roots arm of the Democratic National Committee, has been using President Obama’s 49th birthday as a rallying point for volunteers to gather in community centers, coffee shops, and homes to eat a little cake – and make phone calls to recruit campaign volunteers.

IN PICTURES: Inside President Obama's White House

“This fall, we need to get as many of the 15 million first-time voters from 2008 as possible back to the polls, and we’ll need volunteers in every state to reach them,” reads the e-mail from OFA under the subject line, “Can you come to a birthday party for Barack Obama?”

Mr. Obama himself will be spending the day first in Washington, addressing a meeting of the AFL-CIO Executive Committee, then flying to Chicago, where he will have dinner with friends and spend the night at his house in Hyde Park. The next day, he headlines three fundraisers, including a birthday dinner at the home of billionaire real estate mogul Neil Bluhm that’s doubling as a high-dollar “finance event” for the DNC, per the Chicago Sun Times. Price tag: $30,400 a head.

Wife Michelle Obama and the girls won’t even be there. The first lady and Sasha are heading to Spain Wednesday to visit friends, and Malia is away at camp.

We know Obama’s been thinking about his birthday because he’s been talking about it. In a visit to the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J., last Wednesday, he recommended the sandwiches, but added that “I can’t eat a 12-inch these days now that I’m 49, or I will be in a week.”

In a speech to the National Urban League last Thursday, he referred twice to his graying hair. “Change is hard,” he said. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed. That’s why I’ve got all this gray hair.”

At the Tuesday briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about all the gray hair comments (there was another one on Monday).
“I can’t imagine that the weight of the job doesn’t take a toll physically and mentally on anybody that does it,” Mr. Gibbs said. But, he added, “I know he greatly enjoys it, and it will just require him to get more frequent haircuts.”


Gibbs called on the next reporter, then reflected back on that last comment. “Likely I’m going to hear about that,” he said to laughter.


IN PICTURES: Inside President Obama's White House

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