Obama makes pitch for ideas

January 16, 2009 10:17:24 AM PST
Barack Obama's high-tech bandwagon is rolling on, combining information on inauguration events with a pitch for cash to pay for them. The president-elect's aides told supporters Wednesday that they could learn by e-mail about community service projects around the country tied to his swearing-in on Jan. 20; that they could receive updates by cell phone on traffic and events in the nation's capital; that the best of their ideas on how to govern, submitted on his Web site, would get his attention.

In the process, the Obama team collected more data about potential supporters and donors.

Obama's team got out the information by e-mail to millions of current supporters, who, they hoped would pass the messages to friends. Obama already has a 13 million-person e-mail political database.

"I am asking you to join us in that same spirit of service to others - no matter where you live," Obama said in a four-minute speech posted on the Internet.

Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and their families plan to participate in service projects in the Washington area Monday. On an Obama-tied Web site, USAService.org, aides have posted thousands of volunteer opportunities across the country linked to his inauguration Tuesday.

An e-mail announcing the video message included a request for donations. Obama already has raised at least $41 million for next week's inaugural events.

Keeping with that participatory vibe, Obama planned to open the White House to the public shortly after he took office, a transition official said late Wednesday. Other administrations have done this, but Obama's team wanted to do the same in the spirit of maintaining an open and transparent administration.

Details on the move would be announced soon, the transition official said.

Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett told supporters, by e-mail, that transition officials would bind together user comments from Obama's Web site and present him with the top-rated ones. Thousands of entries were posted under the economy, energy, education and homeland security sections.

"Throughout this transition, a truly inspiring number of citizens have gotten involved," wrote Jarrett. "We hope that you remain involved through the inauguration and beyond."

Obama also announced that supporters can sign up to receive text messages about volunteer opportunities, traffic problems and event schedules.

"I am asking you to make a lasting commitment to make better the lives of your fellow Americans - a commitment that must endure beyond one day, or even one presidency," Obama said.

Obama urged voters to send a text message with the word "open" to 56333 to receive quick updates during his events.

Also Wednesday, Obama's inaugural committee said it would sell high-fashion handbags and T-shirts from $45 to $75, with the proceeds to pay for the enormous celebration. The committee said Diane Von Furstenberg, Zac Posen and Juicy Couture would contribute designs to help the public take ownership of the event.

On the Net:

Transition site: http://change.gov/