Government & Politics

Missouri barbecue buddy to President Obama sits with first lady

Victor Fugate (top center) of Butler, Mo., was among invited guests sitting near first lady Michelle Obama during Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech. While in Washington, Fugate also met briefly Tuesday afternoon with President Barack Obama in the White House Oval Office.
Victor Fugate (top center) of Butler, Mo., was among invited guests sitting near first lady Michelle Obama during Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech. While in Washington, Fugate also met briefly Tuesday afternoon with President Barack Obama in the White House Oval Office. The Associated Press

A Missouri man snagged prime seats to Tuesday’s State of the Union speech — near first lady Michelle Obama.

Victor Fugate of Butler also met briefly with President Barack Obama in the White House Oval Office on Tuesday afternoon. He was one of eight guests from across the country who accepted invitations to sit with the first lady and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, when the president gave his annual address to Congress.

In his weekly radio broadcast on Saturday, Obama cited Fugate’s personal story of recovering from job loss as evidence of America’s “comeback.”

Obama said Fugate “wrote to tell me that he was unemployed for a while a few years ago, but today he’s earned his degree and found a full-time job.”

In his letter to the president, Fugate said that he and his wife were able to afford their student loans because of a program that capped their monthly payments as a percentage of their income, according to the White House. He also thanked Obama for the Affordable Care Act, which he said enabled him to get health care after being laid off from his job as a financial counselor three years ago.

“As a Christian and a health care worker, people automatically assume that we can only be Republicans,” Fugate wrote in the letter. “I believe, regardless of the political party, we can all do something to help our citizens to have a chance at a job, have food in their stomachs, and to have access to great education/health care.”

Fugate now works with an agency of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, the White House said. He is married with a 4-year-old daughter.

This wasn’t the first time Fugate’s letter writing earned him perks from the White House. In July, he dined on ribs with Obama at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque during the president’s visit to Kansas City.

Fugate also introduced Obama before the president’s speech on the economy the next day at the Uptown Theater.

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