Raffle craze strikes innocent presidential candidates

John McCain and Hillary Clinton follow in Barack Obama's footsteps.

By Alex Koppelman
Published March 25, 2008 6:51PM (EDT)

Once again, Barack Obama's starting a trend. On Monday, his campaign announced a raffle of sorts: Out of this week's campaign donors, four will be selected at random to attend dinner with the senator, at his campaign's expense. On Tuesday, Obama's rivals got into the act.

John McCain was first on the raffle bandwagon. In an e-mail purportedly from McCain -- which begins with his by now trademark "My friends" verbal tic -- the senator wrote to supporters:

Next week, I will embark on a "Service to America" tour visiting numerous locations that have played a significant role in shaping who I am today; places where I have had the honor of serving our nation. This tour will take me through Mississippi, Virginia, Florida and my home state of Arizona. I look forward to visiting sites that have left an imprint on my life aboard my campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express.

My campaign has come up with an opportunity for a supporter to join me on the Straight Talk Express for a day of conversation and campaigning. As a token of my appreciation for your financial support, you will be entered to win this seat aboard the Straight Talk Express if you make a contribution before midnight on March 31st. I hope you'll consider joining me by making a donation today. If you can give $50 or more, not only will you be entered to win a ride on the Straight Talk Express, but you'll receive a commemorative Straight Talk Express ticket.

Minutes later, Hillary Clinton's campaign was making a similar pitch. An e-mail with Clinton's signature that went out to supporters reads, in part:

I'm really looking forward to the solo concert my friend Elton John is throwing in New York to help our campaign -- and I would very much like the chance to meet you there.

We're sending two supporters, along with their guests, to New York with VIP tickets for this very special, one-night-only concert on April 9, and it could be you. We will have a chance to talk just you and I -- and you will get to meet Elton John at the party we're throwing afterwards. It's going to be a great night.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton John Mccain R-ariz.