Dear Mr. President: Thanks for the nice letter but times are tough, and if you don't mind, I'm going to sell it to an autograph hound to help pay the bills.
Those weren't Jennifer Cline's exact words, but the 28-year-old mother of two says she has sold a memento she once regarded as priceless: a handwritten note to her from President Obama, in response to an emotional letter that she wrote last year. Cline, an unemployed pharmacy technician living in southern Michigan, told the Associated Press she got $7,000 from a persistent autograph collector for the two-sentence missive. "I needed to do what was best for my family," she said to the AP, "and this was best for my family."
Cline had written Obama, detailing her family's plight: job losses and her ongoing battle with skin cancer, now in remission. In a three-page letter, she told the president the positive too: she was going back to college, thanks to a Pell Grant, and her unemployment benefits were extended.
Obama answered in January on White House stationary, the news agency said. "Thanks for the very kind and inspiring letter. I know times are tough, but knowing there are folks out there like you and your husband give me confidence that things will keep getting better."
Cline said she poured $3,000 of the profits into mounting bills, including medical expenses for her cancer. Times are still hard at the family's rented home in Monroe, Mich., a city southwest of Detroit and just over the Michigan border from Toledo, Ohio. Cline and her husband, Jason, filed separately for bankruptcy and the jobless benefits have run out. But the couple remain strong Obama supporters.
Cline said she and Jason drove to New York Saturday to make the deal with the collector, who hopes he can get $18,000 for a letter in the president's own hand. "My husband had to peel the letter out of (my) hand. I cried half way there and half the way home," she said. But "It was either get a job or sell the letter. Trouble is, it's been impossible to find a job."