Being on first-name basis with candidates can cost a few bucks

I don’t want to brag, but let’s just say Barack and I are tight.

Michelle, too. We’re so close, I’m thinking of trading gardening tips with her.

Not only are we on a first-name basis, but despite their busy schedules, the president and first lady of the United States regularly take time to email me. To them, I’m “John,” “John L.,” or just plain, “friend.”

While I suspect this friendship is based on our abiding respect for my opinion, they always seem to be a few bucks short. I know it’s a tough economy, but I thought the president’s job paid better.

Through Barack and Michelle I’ve befriended Beyonce. Yes, that Beyonce.

Beyonce recently took time from her recording and concert schedule to invite me to join her in New York for a get-together for Barack. (Let’s keep this between us, but I think the lady’s into me. She signed her email, “Love, Beyonce.”) If I contributed to the Obama campaign and my name was drawn, a ticket to the party was all mine.

I planned to attend, but my best Dockers were at the dry cleaners. When the tabloids call, at least I can say I was invited.

In my crowd, there’s no telling from whom you’ll hear. Not long ago I received emails from Joe and Dr. Jill, and their friend Bill. That’s the Bidens and former President Bill Clinton to you folks outside the beltway of political friendships.

Lest you think I’m a confidant of Democrats only, Mitt has emailed me several times with the latest developments from the campaign trail. It’s strictly insider stuff, hush-hush and practically marked Classified. He calls me John, but signs his letters, “Mitt Romney.”

Yeah, like I know another guy named Mitt.

Recently, I started hearing from Paul, too.

Not the Beatle. The running mate.

They’re very sincere, Mitt and Paul. In their letters, they make it clear they’re very interested in turning this country around. But they need my help – just a few bucks to tide them over to Nov. 6, after which they will commence with the whole country-turning-around thing.

For some reason I thought Sheldon Adelson had them covered, but apparently not. I’ll shake the kid’s piggy bank and see what I can do.

No offense intended, but I also noticed that Mitt and Paul don’t seem to know a lot of recording stars or former presidents. Maybe they forgot George W. Bush was a registered Republican. Or perhaps they just prefer the personal touch.

I know Dean does. That’s U.S. Sen. Dean Heller to you. Dean calls me, “John L.”

I once heard from congressional candidate John Oceguera, too. He called me, “Smith.”

Whatever, dude. Don’t you know who my friends are?

A few hours ahead of Sunday’s last fundraising deadline before the election, I received a personal note from Barack. He wrote, “Friend —

“Tomorrow morning, we’ll know if we have the resources to finish this the right way. …

“Every donation counts, no matter how small – especially today. … I know you’re with me. Now I need you to take the next step. Please make a donation of $5 or more …”

He thanked me and signed it, “Barack.”

A few hours earlier, I heard from Dean, who politely began, “I don’t normally email you on Sundays, but our campaign has an important deadline at midnight tonight. … Can we count on you to contribute at least $6 by midnight to help put us over the top?”

Consider it done, Dean. What are friends for if you can’t hit them up for $6?

On Saturday Michelle wrote, “John L. —

“Believe me, every time Barack hears someone tell him he’s earned their vote, it makes his day. That doesn’t get old.

“To hear that you’re out there, lending your voice and getting others involved, means the world to us both. … The $5 you give before the deadline is what makes this campaign possible. … This election is in your hands.”

In my hands?

Not only am I close to Michelle and Barack, but now I’m playing a pivotal role in Campaign 2012.

The first lady signed her message to me simply.

“Thanks, Michelle,” she wrote.

No, thank you.

Hey, let’s keep the friendship thing going even after this fundraising deadline.

And while we’re on a first-name basis, do you have Beyonce’s phone number?

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at

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