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Show me the money? Obama will court the well-heeled, but plans no public events

Published August 2, 2007 1:39 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Barack Obama, a Democratic presidential frontrunner, has declined to hold a public rally or a news conference when he stops in Park City on Sunday - but that doesn't mean his less well-heeled supporters won't do their best to change his mind.

A group of 50 to 100 sign-waving Obama supporters will greet the Illinois senator when he rolls through Kimball Junction on his way to a big-dollar fundraiser at a private home. They hope to persuade him to stop and meet them for an impromptu "roadside rally," says organizer Nikki Norton.

"We are going to be out there to show Obama there is support for a Democratic president in Utah," Norton said. "Hopefully, we'll get him to pull over and meet some people who couldn't afford to go to the fundraiser."

Otherwise, seeing Obama, who narrowly trails Hillary Clinton in national polls, requires a contribution of $500 to $2,300 to his campaign. His campaign also announced this week that he will not meet with news media during his brief visit from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.

An exception will be granted to a team of Brigham Young University students who have volunteered to work at the reception, said Lauren Clough, chapter director of BYU Students for Barack Obama.

"I was able to get spots for four or five students to volunteer and hear Obama speak, and, hopefully, get to meet him," Clough said.

Obama's afternoon stop at the home of supporter John Cumming, will mark the fourth Utah visit by a Democratic presidential candidate in two months. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards held a fundraising reception and press conference in Salt Lake City in early June, followed by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who spoke to a Democratic Party dinner. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd addressed the state Democratic convention.

A member of Obama's national financial committee, Mark Gilbert, splits his time between homes in Boca Raton, Fla., and Park City. Gilbert convinced Obama that a stop in Utah on his way to Elko, Nev., would reap significant cash.

As of the end of June, Obama has raised $47,250 from 60 Utah donors. Utah ranks 41 among states in supporting the candidate.

Norton said rally organizers are trying to convince Obama's campaign to schedule a brief roadside stop. The biggest issue, she says, seems to be security concerns.

But even if the senator declines to stop, it is an opportunity to raise awareness to his campaign in Utah, Norton said, particularly because the Park City Arts Festival will be in full swing.

"Either way, we are going for it," she said. "He would be at least going by us and see our welcome."

Barack attack
Tentatively planned events surrounding Sen. Barack Obama's fundraising visit to Park City on Sunday.

* Saturday 2:30 p.m. Obama supporters gather at the Salt Lake City Downtown Library to plan the roadside rally and make signs.

* Sunday 11:30 a.m. Obama greeters line State Rt. 224 near the corner of Olympic Parkway in Kimble Junction.

* Sunday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Obama attends fundraiser in Park City, where supporters will pay from $500 to $2,300 to meet him.