Aug. 30, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Obama's Dinner Donor Stunt Builds Grass Roots

"He will need help with the Latino vote," Rivera said. But illustrating the difficulty of the task, Rivera said he spends a lot of his time explaining to disappointed supporters why immigration reform hasn't passed and why deportations have risen. "Has he kept all the promises? Obviously not. That's part of the challenge," Rivera said.

Rivera worked at a food bank when he met Obama, and he said he continues to see middle-class families struggling to put food on the table. But he credited the administration with increasing federal grants for anti-poverty groups.

The dinner also had its lighter moments. Obama nudged Rivera to propose to his girlfriend — something Rivera has still not done four years later. Rivera and Jordan said they both left the dinner inspired — and committed to the Obama campaign. Jordan described it as "a life-changing experience" and has since started volunteering with her church and lending an extra hand to the spouses of troops deployed abroad. Rivera considered running for a city council seat in New York in 2008, but he put his own ambitions on hold to work full time for the Obama campaign.

The pair stayed in touch and have also been in contact with the two other guests from that memorable evening: Michael Griffith, a Nevada miner, and Christina Cheatham, a student from Georgia. Neither could be reached for this story.

"The campaign pretty much pulled me in, and after the dinner I felt like I needed to take it to a different level of commitment," Rivera said.

Janie Lorber contributed to this report.

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