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Barack Obama wants to feed you; John McCain wants to take you for a ride

March 25, 2008 |  1:52 pm

With the deadline for first-quarter campaign contributions looming (it's Monday), Barack Obama was first out of the gate today with an offbeat appeal, proposing a dinner date.

Now John McCain is offering a ride on the "Straight Talk Express'' (the longstanding moniker for his campaign bus).

The pitch from Obama notes that fundraising gatherings "hosted by Washington lobbyists and filled with representatives of special interests'' are nothing new.

But an "intimate'' get-together featuring the candidate and four regular-folk donors is, and that's what the Obama staff is set to arrange. Anyone who gives whatever amount can enter the lottery for the dinner, and four contributors will be selected sometime after midnight (EDT) on Monday.

McCain, meanwhile, is making a seat available on his bus when he embarks soon on a "Service to America" tour that will stop in many places he considers dear, including Mississippi, Virginia, Florida and his 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,'' he wrote in his fundraising e-mail appeal. "My campaign has come up with an opportunity for a supporter to join me..." (i.e., by writing a check to him).

It's Hillary Clinton's turn. Ideas welcome.

-- Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau.