Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Bailey's Pub & Grille, Ballston Mall, Arlington, VA


How do you get a statewide on-the-ground campaign up and running in just eight hours? Phenomenally, that is exactly what the Obama campaign in Virginia achieved. Campaign volunteers gave me the full low-down at the Obama victory party in Arlington last night (right).

Three paid volunteers swooped into the state just six days before the primary and literally had to get everything up and running within hours.

They had a bit of luck. On the first day they had a phone call from a local law firm who had a suite of servers, phone lines, and office space ready and waiting for the campaign to move in. Why? Because they had set up the facility for the Mitt Romney campaign and now it was vacant. So a ready-made campaign call centre was available for free! It would seem that not all Romney supporters have gone to Huckabee or McCain.....

By election day, the campaign had 150 people on the phones and 300 volunteers on the doorstep (and many more people across the nation using the free phone facility available through the www.barackobama.com website.) This was in the northern three counties of Virginia alone: Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria. As a measure of the enthusiasm for the campaign, they had 1,400 tickets for the T.C.Williams High School event available to their supporters. They had run out after two hours- people were queuing up for hours to get the tickets.

Hillary's on-the-ground campaign? Nowhere to be seen. It is increasingly clear that the Clinton campaign has not got the infrastructure to compete effectively and one has to assume that this is because they didn't expect a real contest.

Footnote: A chef from one of the local restaurants to the Clinton campaign HQ tells me of the haughty and condescending attitude of Clinton staff. He is amused to find Clinton Deputy Campaign Manager, Bob Nash, scratching lottery card after lottery card in the local 7-11 on the day of the primary. He wonders if this is the latest Clinton fundraising strategy.

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