On fundraising trip, Obama salutes Gap for raising minimum wage

McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 12, 2014 

President Barack Obama did a little shopping for his wife and daughters before hitting a pair of New York City fundraisers -- giving the Gap a little love for boosting employee salaries.

Obama -- who has singled out the Gap for raising employee salaries as he makes a pitch for raising the minimum wage -- made his way to a Gap at East 42nd and Third Avenue, telling a sales associate that he was there to shop for Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha. The employee offered a quick tour of some of the options, pointing out stacks of sweaters and some new spring arrivals.

The Gap employee recommended a V-neck sweater for the girls, but Obama gravitated toward the slightly more modest round-neck options, saying, "I'm worried the V-neck is going to slip." Eventually, he settled on a gray and white striped sweater and a bright coral sweater for his daughters.

The sales associate suggested that perhaps the first lady might like a hoodie, but Obama said she seldom wears them. Instead, he said she’d like athletic gear and quickly picked out a blue workout jacket.

"I think the ladies will be impressed by my style sense," Obama said.

A longtime Gap employee volunteered to ring him up, saying, "He's better looking in person."

Although the employees tried to convince Obama to sign up for a Gap card -- which would have made him eligible for a discount -- the president declined. "I've got one card," he said as he presented his credit card.

Obama said he doesn't always carry his wallet but made sure to bring it for this excursion.

When Sonya told him that he could swipe his own card on the counter top card reader, Obama quipped, "Oh wow. So, you can sign the machine?" As the reporters in the pool started scribbling, he said he was teasing, adding, "They had these around the last time I shopped."

After paying for his purchases, the president spoke about the importance of raising the minimum wage and praised Gap for taking the initiative to bump up employees' salaries. He said he would continue to push Congress to take action, but the Gap already was helping thousands of employees by raising salaries.

"It's not only good for them and their families, it's also good for the entire economy," he said. "I want to congratulate the Gap for doing the right thing."

His first event for the Democratic National Committee was billed as a “roundtable discussion,” but was closed to the press. About 25 people who have contributed up to $32,400 were expected at the private home.

A second event for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was to be held at the home of Tony and Amie James. Tickets for the event were $32,400 and DSCC chairman Sen. Michael Bennet and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio were to attend.

Obama has warned at recent Democratic fundraisers of complacency among Democrats in a mid-term election year, which Press Secretary Jay Carney said has been a “statistical reality” during midterm elections.

“It's certainly been the case that Democrats tend not to turn out in the same numbers in midterms as Republicans do,” Carney said. “And, so, the president and everyone else involved in the effort to support Democratic candidates and incumbents is making the case that it's really important to turn out and exercise your right to vote, whoever you are.”

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