By Steve Holland
NEW YORK, March 11 President Barack Obama took
on a daunting task on Tuesday: shopping for clothes for his wife
and daughters during a brief stop at a Gap store while
raising money for Democrats in New York.
Obama was in New York to attend fundraisers aimed at
building up campaign war chests for this year's midterm
congressional elections, which he said are key to how much of
his agenda he can get done in the rest of his time in office.
"I don't have time to waste... I want to squeeze every last
bit of work that I can during the remainder of my term so that
looking back I'll be able to say we left everything on the
field," he said at the second of the events, which was staged to
help Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate.
Obama's first stop was at a Gap store, where the president
sorted carefully through sweaters in search of a purchase for
one of his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, before holding up a
"I'm worried the V-neck is going to slip," the president
said before opting for a regular-cut neck.
Moving to the adult women's section, Obama declared wife
Michelle difficult to shop for: "Maybe I should buy some socks."
Obama had dropped by a Midtown Manhattan branch of the
clothing chain to thank Gap Inc for its decision to raise the
minimum wage to $9 an hour this year and $10 an hour in 2015. He
has been campaigning to persuade businesses and Congress to
raise wages for workers at the bottom of the scale.
After picking a pair of sweaters and a blue workout jacket,
Obama moved to the cash register, as reporters, photographers,
aides, and Secret Service agents looked on.
"I think the ladies will be impressed by my style sense," he
said, before admitting that his goal was to makes sure "that I
didn't completely screw up."
Using a credit card to pay, Obama pretended that he did not
know that he could sign his name on the credit card machine.
"Oh wow. So, you can sign the machine?" he said.
As reporters took note, Obama said he was teasing: "They had
these around the last time I shopped."
PRESIDENT PRAISES MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Obama then thanked Gap for raising the minimum wage for its
employees and urged other companies to do the same.
"It's not only good for them and their families, it's also
good for the entire economy," he said.
The president was the headliner at the two fundraisers,
which are part of an effort to make sure Democrats are well
funded in congressional elections in November, in which they are
scrambling to retain control of the U.S. Senate.
The party that controls the White House usually loses seats
in midterm elections and Republicans are optimistic they will be
able to build on their majority in the House of Representatives
and possibly grab control of the Senate.
The first fundraiser was a roundtable discussion for the
Democratic National Committee at the home of venture capitalist
Alan Patricof, a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton. The 25
supporters in attendance contributed up to $32,400.
The second was an event for the Democratic Senatorial
Campaign Committee at the home of Blackstone Group President
Tony James and his wife, Amie. Tickets for the event were
$32,400. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio attended.
Standing in the dining room and speaking through a hand-held
microphone, Obama urged Democrats to help.
"The fact of the matter is that Democrats are not without our
flaws. We have our blind spots and we have our dogmas and we
have our, you know, crazy folks. But as a whole this is a party
that is serious about making sure that America is growing and
offering opportunity to everybody," Obama told about 50