Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not The Way It Was Supposed To Play Out

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 208

Remember the Republicans grand strategy to win back the House and Senate this year? The one that involved tying Democratic candidates nation-wide to a liberal, scary and unelectable Barack Obama? The strategy that bombed in seismic GOP losses in special elections in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi earlier this year?

Well, in case there's anyone who didn't already know this, that strategy is dead. How dead? So dead that Gordon Smith, Republican U.S. Senator from Oregon, is running an ad that touts, among his other qualities, that he has worked closely with and been praised by none other than Barack Obama.

See for yourself:

Taking the audacity of hope to whole new levels...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama Launches First General Election Ad

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 213

Barack Obama has gone on the air nationwide today with a 30 second spot titled, "Country I Love." The ad features Obama speaking directly into the camera over a soft folk guitar soundtrack, and begins airing today in 18 states: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Here's the script:

I'm Barack Obama.

America is a country of strong families and strong values. My life's been blessed by both.

I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. We didn't have much money, but they taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland where they grew up. Accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses. Treating your neighbor as you'd like to be treated. It's what guided me as I worked my way up - taking jobs and loans to make it through college.

It's what led me to pass up Wall Street jobs and go to Chicago instead, helping neighborhoods devastated when steel plants closed.

That's why I passed laws moving people from welfare to work, cut taxes for working families and extended health care for wounded troops who'd been neglected.

I approved this message because I'll never forget those values, and if I have the honor of taking the oath of office as President, it will be with a deep and abiding faith in the country I love.

And here's the video:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Lift The Off-Shore Drilling Ban" = Political Gimmick

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 214

Yes, gas is over $4.00 a gallon. Yes, it sucks. But oil is a finite, non-renewable commodity which is ever more-rapidly nearing depletion. There is no way we're going to produce our way out of this crisis.

But what if we could? Wouldn't lifting all limits on off-shore drilling (and, what the heck, while we're at it, let's open up AWNR, too!) have an immediate impact on oil supplies, commodities market prices, and the cost of a gallon of gas?

No. Take a deep breath. The answer is no. A statement yesterday from Tom Harkin sums up why:

“Already over 25 percent of our domestic production comes from offshore fields, and the oil companies already have leases to produce on many more sites. In fact, there are currently more than 33 million acres of federal lands on the Outer Continental Shelf under lease, but not producing. Opening more offshore areas wouldn’t get us any new oil in less than 5 years, and then less than a 6-month’s supply. We can’t pretend that opening up more offshore drilling is the answer when you consider that Americans are paying well over $4 per gallon for regular unleaded and using about 20 million barrels of oil per day, over half of which is imported.

That's right: the fact is that oil companies already hold substantial leases to drill off-shore that they're not even using. Even assuming that ramping up off-shore oil production would have an immediate impact on energy prices (and it wouldn't), oil companies already have the ability to do so, without requiring further Federal action.

(BTW, wouldn't you know it takes a senator from Iowa, of all places, to make these points about off-shore drilling?)

Calls for lifting the "ban" on off-shore drilling are a political gimmick. Don't fall for it.

Get a Job

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 214

For anyone who has ever dreamed of running off to join the political circus, Democracy for America has just the ticket: classes for aspiring campaign staffers, with emphasis on how to land a job with a political campaign. Classes begin next Wednesday, June 25; the press release below gives the details.

Have you ever worked on a political campaign?

Ever wanted to but never knew where to start?

It's not as hard as you might think. Next week DFA Night School is teaming up with Democratic GAIN to help you get hired on a campaign this fall.

Getting a Job on a Campaign
Wednesday June 25th - 8:30pm Eastern Daylight Time

Campaigns are gearing up in all 50 states right now, and they need passionate, trained campaign staff. Next Wednesday, June 25, Democratic GAIN President Amy Pritchard will be joining DFA Night School for an hour long training on 'Getting a Job on a Campaign'.

Democratic GAIN is one of the nation's most effective organizations when it comes to connecting campaigns with talented staffers across the country. We'll be sharing research suggestions, tips on touching up your resume and how to build and leverage your professional networks into the perfect campaign job as part of this month's DFA Night School.

Night School is DFA's interactive online training program. Every month Night School brings top campaign experts right to your home at absolutely no cost to you. Just CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR NIGHT SCHOOL. Once you've signed up, you'll be sent the info you need to listen to Night School live either on your home computer or over the telephone. The training will be accompanied by a slideshow you can view online or download and print out ahead of time.

Sign up today and get a job taking back our country this fall.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama Campaign Launches Web Site to "Fight The Smears"

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 221

They've passed into campaign lore by now: unsubstantiated and untrue rumors that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim, that he does not pledge allegiance to the American flag, and many more, circulated via email blasts and hammered endlessly on right-wing talk radio.

This week, the Obama campaign is launching a web site to specifically address these attacks. The site, titled "Fight the Smears," supplements the "Fact Check" page on the campaign's main website, and lists the rumors and the campaign's response in concise, even spare terms, bullet-point fashion.

I think this is something the Obama campaign simply has to do in the face of the rumor- and fear-mongering attacks launched against the candidate over the last year or so. But I am also convinced that these attacks would be much less potent, and more effectively countered, if Obama were to start an immediate, focused effort to introduce himself in detail to the electorate. As natural as it is to want to pull back a little from the relentless grind of the past 18 months of campaigning, Barack Obama and his campaign need to get out in front of the public with a specific campaign to tell voters, in depth, about the candidate's life story and values. Books, websites and the like will only go so far with this; the overall effort needs to be more focused and aggressive.

As of this moment, and in spite of months of rumor attacks, Barack Obama still retains the ability to define himself to the electorate at large. Every week that goes by without a concerted plan to replace rumors from anonymous emailers and right-wing shills with a factual, full-dimensional portrait of Obama as a flesh-and-blood human being, and not just a political and media icon, means ceding that advantage by continuing to leave the field open for these attacks to resonate. The rumor attacks launched against Obama will lose all effectiveness when suspicion bred of novelty gives way to familiarity with Obama as an individual.

The political environment abhors a vacuum. In order to effectively combat rumors and attacks about Barack Obama, he and his campaign need to dislodge lies with truth. That effort must begin now, in-depth, and, to the greatest extent possible, be conducted by Barack Obama himself, one interview, one living room TV, one voter at a time.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pros and Cons of HRC 4 VP

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 229

Charles Babington over at AP has drawn up a list of pros and cons Barack Obama might consider when mulling over whether to name Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Babbington's take isn't meant to be heavyweight analysis, but he does make a couple of good points. My favorites, quoting from the article:

Pro: She brings a proven team of fundraisers, planners and volunteers to the ticket.

Con: Why not get two for the price of one? To safeguard her husband's legacy and her own ambition, Hillary Clinton surely must campaign vigorously and wholeheartedly for you, whether she's on the ticket or not. Let her do so while you pick a running mate who brings other strengths.

Pro: She might put Arkansas in play. Bush won the state easily in 2004, but maybe the state's former first lady, whose husband's presidential library is in Little Rock, can put it in your column.

Con: She has dubious taste in music. Throughout Pennsylvania she played the theme from "Rocky," a movie about a white protagonist who beats up a black man before losing to him. And she made a Celine Dion tune her official campaign song. Enough said.

Its His Party Now, Part 1: Obama Bans Lobbiest Money at the DNC

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 229

In a sign that the newly-minted Democratic nominee is moving fast to consolidate control over the party, an Obama spokesman announced today that the DNC will no longer accept campaign cash from PACs or federal lobbyists.

This is an important step for Obama to take, not only because it brings the national party in line with his long-standing campaign position on donations from lobbyists and PACS, but also because it indicates that Obama intends to move quickly to assert control over the party now that he is the nominee-in-waiting. Banning lobbyist money from the DNC also raises the ante against John McCain, who has well-known lobbyists such as Charlie Black running his campaign; all that remains is for Obama to challenge John McCain to ban lobbyist money from the RNC, which, come to think of it, wouldn't be a bad opening salvo for the general election campaign.

Her Last Bow

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 229

From the inbox overnight:

"I wanted you to be one of the first to know: on Saturday, I will hold an event in Washington D.C. to thank everyone who has supported my campaign. Over the course of the last 16 months, I have been privileged and touched to witness the incredible dedication and sacrifice of so many people working for our campaign. Every minute you put into helping us win, every dollar you gave to keep up the fight meant more to me than I can ever possibly tell you.

On Saturday, I will extend my congratulations to Senator Obama and my support for his candidacy. This has been a long and hard-fought campaign, but as I have always said, my differences with Senator Obama are small compared to the differences we have with Senator McCain and the Republicans.

I have said throughout the campaign that I would strongly support Senator Obama if he were the Democratic Party's nominee, and I intend to deliver on that promise.

When I decided to run for president, I knew exactly why I was getting into this race: to work hard every day for the millions of Americans who need a voice in the White House.

I made you -- and everyone who supported me -- a promise: to stand up for our shared values and to never back down. I'm going to keep that promise today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.

I will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise.

I know as I continue my lifelong work for a stronger America and a better world, I will turn to you for the support, the strength, and the commitment that you have shown me in the past 16 months. And I will always keep faith with the issues and causes that are important to you.

In the past few days, you have shown that support once again with hundreds of thousands of messages to the campaign, and again, I am touched by your thoughtfulness and kindness.

I can never possibly express my gratitude, so let me say simply, thank you.

Hillary Rodham Clinton"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nothing Like It Before, Ever

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 230

There is so much political news coming out of tonight's primaries, both in Iowa and in Montana and South Dakota. And I'll write about that. Tomorrow.

But I cannot end this day without reflecting on the incredible primary season that has now come to an end, and all that I have seen, and heard, and learned. I salute the candidates I met and who ran strong campaigns of conviction and substance. This has been a political season that has seen unprecedented runs for president by a Hispanic, a woman, and an African American.

Nothing like it before, ever. We'll be telling our grandchildren about all this one day. And they'll listen, and perhaps roll their eyes a bit, because in that day they will, happily, take these things for granted. But it is for us tonight, with all that has gone before and all the challenges that yet lay ahead, to take a moment to acknowledge these extraordinary days, this historic moment, and to say God Bless America.

Party Time in IA-03

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 230

Looking for somewhere to let your political hair down after voting in the IA-03 primary tonight? Look no further! The Boswell and Fallon campaigns both will be holding election night parties for their supporters in Des Moines. Details follow.

Boswell Election Night Party
Beginning at 8:30 p.m.
Hotel Fort Des Moines
Wedgewood Room
1000 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA

Lt. Governor Patty Judge will be on hand as a special guest, and Congressman Boswell will address supporters after the election results are in.

Fallon Election Night Party
Beginning at 9:00 p.m.
Raccoon River Brew Pub (upper level)
200 10th Street
Des Moines, IA

Party on!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Triple Witching Weekend

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 231

The weekend just past will likely go down as a significant two days in this cycle's Democratic presidential nominating process, with three events combining to put their stamp on the color and shape of things as we near the end of the race.

First and foremost, there was the DNC Rules Committee meeting on Saturday. I don't have a verbatim transcript of the proceedings, but here is the gist, based on hand-written notes I made of key portions of the committee's televised deliberations:
"Shut up!"
"No, you shut up!"
"Make me!"
"Maybe I will! Gosh!"

Such elevated discourse aside, the substantive outcome of the meeting was that the delegate total needed to nominate has risen from 2026 to 2118, based on the seating arrangements for the Michigan and Florida delegations agreed to by the committee. The result was that Barack Obama's number of remaining delegates needed to nominate increased to 66, while Hillary Clinton's margin narrowed tantalizingly from "stupendously out of reach" to "outlandishly remote."

Incidentally, the committee vote on Michigan, by far the more contentious issue on the table, was 19-8; thirteen members of the committee had already publicly pledged support for Hillary Clinton, and, as the vote shows, they failed to keep their own block in line to vote for their proposal to deny any delegates to Barack Obama. Further proof, if any is needed, that, bravado aside, the fact that the nomination has slipped through Clinton's fingers is starting to register even on some of her most committed (and influential) supporters.

A maxim attributed to Otto von Bismarck maintains that there are two things you never want to allow people to see being made: laws and sausages. I think the Rules Committee meeting makes a powerful case for adding a third item to that list.

The second major event was Puerto Rico's primary, which Hillary Clinton won big. How big? So big that Barack Obama started the day needing 66 delegates to secure the nomination and ended it needing just 47. This result caused Hillary Clinton to proclaim, in an email to supporters, "Today in Puerto Rico, the voters spoke with a powerful voice to say that this race is not over yet."

Not over yet. But soon. As in, probably later this week. And no, this isn't the pundocracy speaking: it's Clinton's National Co-Chair (and former Iowa governor) Tom Vilsack, who told the Associated Press yesterday, "It does appear to be pretty clear that Senator Obama is going to be the nominee. After Tuesday's contests, she needs to acknowledge that he's going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him."

Last, but by no means least, Saturday marked the end of the second quarter fundraising period for the campaigns. Neither Clinton nor Obama have released their fundraising totals for this latest period quite yet, but those numbers will drive the outcome of this final stage of the race perhaps more forcefully than either the Rules Committee or the Puerto Rico primary. But we'll have to stay tuned for that.

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