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The Machinery of Hope

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Inside the grass-roots field operation of Barack Obama, who is transforming the way political campaigns are run


BY TIM DICKINSON | Rolling Stone Magazine


It's Presidents day, two weeks before the Texas primary, and Adam Ukman has come to the small city of San Marcos to train precinct captains for Barack Obama. A soft-spoken native of Houston, Ukman has served on the campaign's front lines in Iowa and Utah, organizing grass-roots supporters to secure decisive victories in both states. This evening, more than eighty residents of San Marcos have crammed into a yellow clapboard recreation center on a street dotted with shacks that date from the Jim Crow era. "Our job is not to run in here to tell you how it's going to be," Ukman tells them. "This is your campaign. Not our campaign."

Anyone who has spent time around Democratic politics has heard this kind of rhetoric before. Most often, it's pure horseshit. But Ukman is not here to break in a batch of untrained organizers. He knows that there is literally hundreds of years of organizing experience in the room — all he needs to do is set it loose. There's Michael Collins, an old-school politico in a tan Stetson who chaired John F. Kennedy's campaign in West Texas in 1960. A few seats over is Sandra Tenorio, who oversaw immigration issues for Gov. Ann Richards in the 1990s. And there's "Big Bob" Barton, a fixture of local party races since he worked as a volunteer for Gene McCarthy in '68. "I first voted for a Democrat more than fifty years ago," he barks out in his dry baritone. "I try not to fall in love with too many men, but this is the best damn one we've had since John Kennedy."

What Ukman is doing here in the rec center in the Hill Country of Texas is something new in American politics. Over the past year, the Obama campaign has quietly worked to integrate the online technologies that fueled the rise of Howard Dean —as well as social-networking and video tools that didn't even exist in 2004 — with the kind of neighbor-to-neighbor movement-building that Obama learned as a young organizer on the streets of Chicago. "That's the magic of what they've done," says Simon Rosenberg, president of the Democratic think tank NDN. "They've married the incredibly powerful online community they built with real on-the-ground field operations. We've never seen anything like this before in American political history."...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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More Voices

Barack talked earlier this week about bridging divides and bringing people together to solve our common problems.

That's not just the theme of this campaign -- it's been the theme of his life's work.

When Barack came back to Chicago after law school, he led a voter registration drive to attract people to the political process.

The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is fast approaching -- Monday, March 24. This is the last opportunity for Pennsylvanians who are unregistered -- as well as Independents and Republicans -- to register as Democrats so they can support Barack in the primary.

Watch this short video about Barack's voter registration efforts and start making calls to help register Pennsylvanians right away:

Barack's video about voter registration

http://my.barackobama.com/morevoicesvideo

Registering voters and bringing more voices into the political process is what this campaign is all about.

In the ten contests left in this race, we have an opportunity to build a base of support that will lead Democrats to victory up and down the ballot in November.

But more importantly, we have the chance to transform our party and our politics. Our next opportunity is Pennsylvania.

By bringing in new voters and encouraging voters who have gotten fed up to get involved again, we can move beyond the divisive and petty tactics that have dominated our politics for far too long. We can send a message that we're ready for something new -- something positive that brings us together around a shared goal of a better future for all Americans.

You can help build our movement and create a lasting change in our party and in our country.

Start making calls for this historic drive to register Pennsylvania voters:

http://my.barackobama.com/callPAvoters

One of the special things about this campaign is that it's inspired people from all walks of life to take action.

Supporters are organizing in their neighborhoods and traveling across the country to help register voters. People like you are making calls to crucial states and talking to potential voters about a new kind of leadership and a new kind of politics.

There are ten contests left in this race, and we can set the tone for all of them in Pennsylvania. Your voice can make a difference in how they turn out. You can have an important impact on the direction of the Democratic Party and politics in this country.

Be a voice for change and bring more voices into the political process:

http://my.barackobama.com/callPAvoters

Thank you for everything you're doing,

Jon

Jon Carson
National Voter Contact Director
Obama for America

Donate

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Workers Were Punished for Records Breach

By ANNE FLAHERTY and DESMOND BUTLER

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two companies that provide workers for the State Department say they fired or otherwise punished those who improperly accessed the passport records of the three major presidential candidates. The security breaches touched off demands for a congressional investigation.

"None of us wants to have a circumstance in which any American's passport file is looked at in an unauthorized way," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as she offered apologies to the candidates.

Stanley Inc., based in Arlington, Va., and The Analysis Corp., or TAC, of McLean, Va., said Friday that their employees' actions were unauthorized and not consistent with company policies.

Stanley said it fired two subcontractors involved in accessing the files of Sen. Barack Obama when their actions were discovered. A separate search showed that workers also had snooped on Sens. John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

TAC said it had been notified earlier in the day that one of its contractors had acted improperly — in this case, according to the State Department, by accessing Obama's records. TAC decided to honor a State Department request to delay firing the consultant to give investigators time to conduct its investigation, the company said....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Richardson endorses Obama, urges Democrats to unite against McCain

By Noam N. Levey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 22, 2008


WASHINGTON -- Pushing through the roughest patch of his candidacy, Sen. Barack Obama couldn't have asked for better timing for the endorsement Friday of former rival Bill Richardson, according to several Democratic strategists.

The New Mexico governor and former member of the Clinton administration called Obama "a once-in-a-lifetime leader" as he campaigned with the Illinois senator in Portland, Ore., ahead of that state's May 20 primary.

Along with such praise, Richardson advanced the argument the Obama campaign is trying to make to Democrats nationwide in its drive to wrap up the party's nomination in relatively short order.

"It is time . . . for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and prepare for the tough fight we will have against John McCain in the fall," Richardson said of the presumptive Republican nominee. The New Mexico governor had been wooed heavily by both campaigns since he dropped his presidential bid after the New Hampshire primary in early January.

"That's a very powerful message," said veteran Democratic strategist Bill Carrick, who is not supporting either candidate in the race. "We're getting into the endgame here . . . and people are watching to see what Obama can do to close down the process."...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Clinton Treats Obama Pastor With Extreme Caution

By PATRICK HEALY
Published: March 21, 2008


ANDERSON, Ind. — Ever since Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton started running for president, her team has argued that she is more electable than Senator Barack Obama: more experience, as first lady and senator; more spine, after years fighting Republicans; and more popular with key voter blocs, like women, Hispanics and the elderly.

Yet this week, Mrs. Clinton’s electability argument has taken on a new dimension that for her and her advisers is both discomfiting and unpredictable, but also potentially helpful. Some Democrats are now looking at the racially incendiary and anti-American remarks of Mr. Obama’s longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., and wondering if that association could weaken Mr. Obama as a nominee.

Clinton advisers have asked their allies not to talk openly about the issue, for fear it could create a voter backlash and alienate black Democrats. They also say Mr. Obama, of Illinois, is in enough trouble over Mr. Wright that they do not need to foment more — and, besides, cable television is keeping the issue alive....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Obama pastor flap both stirs and bores PA voters

By Christi Parsons

One of the most remarkable things about the controversy over Barack Obama's pastor is the sharply differing reactions, even among those who seem to have everything else in common.

Some new polling suggests that the wildfire Internet spread of some of Wright's most inflammatory sermons may be burning away some of Obama's popularity with the national electorate. The video clips show Wright raging about "the U.S. of KKK-A" and suggesting that the AIDS epidemic was part of a government conspiracy to kill black people.

At the same time, many voters, black and white, say they were moved by Obama's speech in response, which they see as a long-awaited invitation to begin an honest, calm national dialogue about race.

In Portland, Ore., on Friday, a local congressman brought the crowd at an Obama event to an exuberant standing ovation when he mentioned that Obama had just faced the matter of race "head-on."

In any case, it's a topic clearly on the minds of voters in Pennsylvania, one of the largest states to weigh in on the race for the Democratic presidential nomination between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Just as talk radio and television are preoccupied with the matter, so were a surprising number of shoppers and employees in the mega-mall known as King of Prussia, in the town of the same name....(Click here for remainder of post.)

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Okay, Barack. Now Show 'Em Your White Side

By Bomani Armah
Sunday, March 23, 2008; Page B01


So it's official. Sen. Barack Obama is black enough. Now it's time for him to switch gears. Okay, maybe not Obama himself -- he does a good job of appearing to be above the political and racial fray, as his speech last week proved again -- but his supporters. They need to start pushing the idea of how white he is.

Yes, that's right: Barack Obama is as white as he is black. The one-drop rule is not a genetic law or a social fact; it is a construct of this country's racist imagination. For Pete's sake, he's a distant cousin of Dick Cheney's. We need to start stressing the idea that his universal appeal is partly due to his being white, like all the presidents before him.

I know, I know. For a while the big issue was Obama's blackness. But the King (Jesse Jackson) and the Prime Minister (Al Sharpton) of black people announced he'd passed the test. Of course, it took a gang of white people in Iowa voting for him before they felt comfortable anointing him, but it happened. All of a sudden, Bill Clinton looked less like a gumbo of James Brown, John Coltrane and Magic Johnson and more like a potluck dinner of Tom Jones, Kenny G and Larry Bird....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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An Easter Break question: Can Hillary Clinton win?

By Jim Tankersley

The Democratic presidential candidates are taking a long-overdue break from the campaign trail this weekend, just in time for Easter. Hillary Clinton is home in New York. Barack Obama is set, after an event in southern Oregon today, to embark on a mini-vacation to … somewhere.

We'll take this opportunity to reassess the race. In particular: Who's going to win?

It just so happens that a flock of journalists, analysts and bloggers have weighed in this week on that very question. Very roughly, they break into two camps: those who believe Clinton has a "path" to the Democratic nomination, and those who believe she has almost no hope left.

Leading the way for the latter camp are Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen of Politico. "One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race," they write in a piece published yesterday. "Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning."

On the other side, Jay Cost of the RealClearPolitics.com "HorseRaceBlog". This week, he laid out what he called a "plausible, but unlikely, path to the nomination for Clinton."

Both sides generally agree on the parameters of the debate: that Obama appears almost certain to end the primary season with more pledged delegates than Clinton; that he appears likely, particularly in light of developments this week that make do-over votes in Florida and Michigan appear next-to-impossible, to finish with a lead in the overall popular vote from the combined primaries and caucuses; and that to secure the nomination, Clinton will need to win over a huge chunk of the remaining uncommitted "superdelegates."...(Click here for remainder of post.)

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Obama Links Effects of War Costs to Fragility in the Economy

By JEFF ZELENY and MICHAEL COOPER
Published: March 21, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Senator Barack Obama on Thursday blamed the fragile economy on “careless and incompetent execution” of the Iraq war, imploring voters in this swing state to consider the trickle-down economic consequences of the war as they choose a successor to President Bush.

“When you’re spending over $50 to fill up your car because the price of oil is four times what it was before Iraq, you’re paying a price for this war,” Mr. Obama said to an audience at the University of Charleston. “When Iraq is costing each household about $100 a month, you’re paying a price for this war.”

One day after Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigned here, Mr. Obama arrived in West Virginia for his first trip before the primary on May 13. The state is also likely to be a general election battleground, and Mr. Obama delivered a critique of Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

“No matter what the costs, no matter what the consequences, John McCain seems determined to carry out a third Bush term,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s an outcome America can’t afford. Because of the Bush-McCain policies, our debt has ballooned.”...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Obama attacks Clinton's veracity

Says voters misled on record, views Rival campaign charges hypocrisy

By Scott Helman
Globe Staff | March 22, 2008


CHICAGO - Barack Obama's campaign, on the defensive for the past week, yesterday launched its most pointed assault yet on the character of rival Hillary Clinton, accusing her of routinely misleading voters for political gain.

Obama's campaign, in a memo and conference call with reporters, asserted that Clinton had been untruthful about her foreign policy resume, her position on the North American Free Trade Agreement, her involvement in the 1993 passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and her views on the renegade primaries in Michigan and Florida.

Clinton's campaign responded swiftly that Obama was in "political hot water given the news stories of the last few weeks and is desperate to change the subject." The Illinois senator has been dogged in recent days by his long association with a controversial Chicago pastor and tried to defuse the issue with a widely viewed speech Tuesday on race relations.

Obama's attack, the latest salvo in the two senators' increasingly acrimonious nomination fight, rounded up a number of earlier criticisms into a broad critique of Clinton's trustworthiness and her prospects in the fall against Senator John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Court Dismisses Florida Primary Lawsuit

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee over the party's decision to strip Florida of its delegates to its national convention.

But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ruling released Friday, said the lawsuit "raises a number of interesting and potentially significant questions," and gave the plaintiff an opening to amend and refile the lawsuit.

The plaintiff, Victor DiMaio, a Democratic Party activist from Tampa, Fla., said he would refile.

DiMaio filed the lawsuit in 2007 accusing the party of disenfranchising Florida's Democratic voters by barring them from having their say in choosing their party's nominee. The party stripped both Florida and Michigan of their national convention delegates because they moved their primaries to January dates that were earlier than party rules allowed.

The Democratic National Committee argued the party has the right to set its own rules and not seat delegates who refuse to follow them.

The three-judge panel agreed with a U.S. district judge in Tampa who dismissed the challenge, saying that DiMaio "undeniably" lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because he had yet to vote in the Florida primary when it was filed.

"Since DiMaio's complaint does not allege any actual or imminent injury, nor suggest in any way how that 'injury' could be redressed by a favorable judgment, we are without jurisdiction to entertain the appeal," the ruling said....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Obama Campaign Claims Clinton Has 'Character Gap'

Campaign Promising 'New Politics' Assails Rival as Untrustworthy, Duplicitous

By JAKE TAPPER and SUNLEN MILLER
March 21, 2008


The campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., delivered one of its harshest, most negative attacks yet today, asserting that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is lacking in character and regularly misleads voters.

"She is not seen as trustworthy by the American people," said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe in a conference call with reporters this morning, citing a Gallup poll released this week indicating that only 44 percent of the American people consider Clinton "honest and trustworthy," as opposed to 67 percent for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and 63 percent for Obama.

Plouffe said this perception would make it "next to impossible" for Clinton to win the general election.

"To head into a general election with over half the electorate not believing you are trustworthy is a serious problem," Plouffe said. "The American people will not elect a candidate that they do not see as trustworthy."...(Click here for remainder of post.)

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Clinton's Experience Is Debated

While Not a Foreign Crisis Player, She Carried U.S. Message

By Peter Baker and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 21, 2008; Page A06


On March 22, 1999, Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived at the Itihadiya Palace in Egypt for what her schedule said was a "courtesy call with President Mubarak." Aides blocked out 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Then she embarked on visits to a mosque, museum, clinic, bazaar, youth center, groundwater project, university and the Temple of Luxor.

Almost exactly nine years later to the day, Clinton's trip to Egypt offers a case study of her foreign policy role during her husband's presidency. While traveling across North Africa, she devoted little time to heads of state and negotiated no agreements, but instead met community leaders, explored local issues and culture, hit major tourist sites and gave speeches on women's rights and other topics important to her.

Whether that has made her "tested and ready" to be president from the first day, as she now claims, is a burning issue on the campaign trail. Clinton's camp has depicted her as a virtual secretary of state, circling the globe to bring peace to troubled lands and open borders for refugees. Sen. Barack Obama's camp has presented her as a glorified USO officer, entertaining troops and having tea with crown princesses. More than 11,000 pages of her schedules released this week, along with interviews with former diplomats and administration officials, present a more mixed picture.....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Edwards unlikely to endorse

By DAVID PAUL KUHN | 3/21/08 6:25 PM EST


John Edwards is unlikely to endorse either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton before the nomination is decided, according to interviews with several members of the former candidate's inner circle.

At least three individuals who have recently spoken to Edwards expect that he will choose to stay out of the fight, though they warn that no one other than his wife, Elizabeth, can be certain of his thinking.

“My gut instinct, at this point: He’s probably going to remain neutral and sort of try to play on that Al Gore status as party elder,” said a former Edwards operative who is in regular contact with the former North Carolina senator and who asked that his name be withheld.

“There is a real space for him to be an advocate for the issues that he cares about but also to play a role as a party elder,” he continued. “I think he is, at this point, probably going to take the route of 'We got two great candidates, let the people decide.'”

Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, is coming to believe that “silence is the better part of valor,” another former top adviser said.

“He is genuinely torn between the two,” the adviser added. “On the big change, money and politics, he obviously agrees more with Barack. I think on the toughness and experience in life, making difficult decisions, I think he believes Hillary is more ready for the job. I also think that he thinks the way she has pursued his support has a level of seriousness he has not seen from the other guy.”...(Click here for remainder of post.)

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Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early


Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

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Choose, or Lose in November

By PHILIP BREDESEN
Published: March 19, 2008


We Democrats have a problem, but it’s one we can fix.

We are blessed with two fine candidates, but it’s entirely possible that when primary season ends on June 3, we will still lack a clear nominee. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could each still believe that the nomination could be his or hers at the national convention in Denver in August.

In that situation, we would then face a long summer of brutal and unnecessary warfare. We would face a summer of growing polarization. And we would face a summer of lost opportunities — lost opportunities to heal the wounds of the primaries, to fill the party’s coffers, to offer unified Democratic ideas for America’s challenges.

If we do nothing, we’ll of course still have a nominee by Labor Day. But if he or she is the nominee of a party that is emotionally exhausted and divided with only two months to go before Election Day, it could be a Pyrrhic victory.

Here’s what our party should do: schedule a superdelegate primary. In early June, after the final primaries, the Democratic National Committee should call together our superdelegates in a public caucus....(Click here for remainder of Op-Ed)

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