(NEW YORK) — A jumping castle, a giant water slide, a rusty waffle iron and a dusty bicycle; those are the tools grassroots fundraisers are using to help President Obama win re-election.
In an effort to combat deep-pocketed Super PACs backed by billionaire Republican donors, Obama supporters in California are hosting small-scale neighborhood events to raise money for the president’s campaign.
In San Francisco, Mandy Silverman and Sean Dabel are asking friends and neighbors to earn a little extra cash by selling their old bikes, discarded kitchen appliances or any other items they aren’t using and donate the proceeds to the Obama campaign.
“A lot of people out here have a lot of support for the president and they might not have $100 sitting around in their bank account, but they may have $100 worth of items sitting around that they don’t need anymore,” Dabel said.
Over the weekend Dabel and Silverman are hoping to recruit more than 500 co-hosts nationwide to host their own “Yard Sale for Obama” on Sept. 22 – 23. Their goal is to raise $100,000.
As ardent Obama supporters, Dabel said he and Silverman were starting to feel “powerless” against the big money pouring into Super PACs allied with Romney.
“When we are out here thinking about the presidential election it started to feel like it was being taken out of the hands of ordinary everyday people,” said Dabel, a district attorney in the San Francisco Bay area.
After casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson pledged $100 million to help Mitt Romney win in November, Dabel said the couple was inspired to “put in our very best effort” to help Obama where they could, at the grassroots level.
“This does feel really middle class, this idea of a yard sale, the coming together and understanding that we have each others’ back and we are going to move the country forward,” said Silverman, who does marketing for a start-up company in San Francisco.
Obama has had far more fundraising success at the grassroots level than his Republican opponent. According to campaign disclosures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, 39 percent of the president’s re-election funds have come from small donations of $250 or less. Romney has raised just 19 percent of his campaign cash from small donors.
Two million of the 3.1 million people that have donated to Obama’s re-election effort have given $25 or less, according to his campaign.
“That is a critical downpayment on the organization we are building across the country — the largest grassroots campaign in history,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said after announcing that Obama had out-raised Romney in August.
Dabel and Silverman are hoping to recruit more than 500 co-hosts nationwide to host their own “Yard Sale for Obama” on September 22 – 23.
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Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News
Dakin Andone, CNN
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN