Damn you, Barack Obama

By AL GIORDANO  |  September 26, 2007

Exley concluded: "These organizers could rewrite the rules of presidential politics, dramatically raise the profile of field organizing in the campaign world, and help rebuild Democratic party structure in states, such as California, that have been long forgotten to electoral field organizing."

Here’s a video excerpt from the New York Camp Obama training session. The second presentation in it comes from the field director Figueroa, a veteran organizer from the union movement. It provides a window into another innovation of the Obama field organization.

Beyond the traditional role of field organization in getting out the vote, Camp Obama seems equally fixated on making sure its precinct-level organization is involved on the message level of the campaign in order to beat back the kinds of media attacks known, since the 2004 TV ads of Swift Boat Veterans against Kerry, as the "swift-boating" of the candidate.

Dukakis, the 1988 nominee who got "Willie Horton-ed," recently told the New York Observer that, from his experience, a ground-level precinct organization is what he lacked to be able to counter the advertising attacks from the air.

"There's a chemistry there, which is hard to describe unless you've done it," Dukakis said about precinct-level campaign organization. "Otherwise, it permits your opponent to paint you as something you aren't. It happened to me. It happened to Kerry. They tried to do it to Clinton. They'll try to do it to anybody."

If the third-quarter FEC reports, due on October 15, show that Obama's continued to raise money as he has thus far, his campaign's rhetoric about building precinct-level organization in the later primary states will likely become a reality. For the first time since the dawn of television, a maverick Democratic presidential challenger will be able to advertise in all the primary and caucus states between January and June. Plus, Obama will have converted significant swathes of his quarter-million donors into precinct-level organizers.

Massachusetts (along with Rhode Island and the delegate-rich prizes of Ohio and Texas) won't vote until March 4. In previous cycles, contests have all but been decided by that date. This time it's likely to be different: the March primaries will probably still matter — because of what Obama has accomplished in fundraising.

Obama's historic war chest upends the conventional wisdom that a challenger has to win in Iowa or New Hampshire — with the traditional bounce such victories give to an aspirant's fundraising — to be able to stay in the contest all the way to the finish line. Of course, if Obama were to win even just one of the first four states (he's competitive, according to the polls, in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina today) such a victory would slingshot him into a commanding position.

He is the first Democrat that is not a front-runner that doesn't have to win one of the early states to emerge as the last candidate standing between the front-runner and the nomination. Obama's conquest of small-donor supremacy will keep him in the game until somebody — maybe him — wins 2182 delegates.

Former Boston Phoenix political reporter Al Giordano "enjoyed the hottest streak of almost any handicapper," during the 2004 presidential elections, according to James Wolcott of Vanity Fair: "the first to hear John Kerry's hulking footsteps about to overtake Howard Dean."

The founder of Narco News, Giordano has lived in and reported from Latin America for the past decade. His opinions expressed in this column do not reflect those of Narco News nor of the Fund for Authentic Journalism, which supports his work. Al encourages commentary, critique, additional analysis and tips to be sent to his e-mail address:narconews@gmail.com.

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