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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Sunday, November 30, 2003

 
Bling Bling

I think I've figured out how Bush plans to lower the unemployment rate in time for the election. It appears that he simply plans to hire all those who are out of work on his campaign. Gawd knows he has the money:

President Bush's reelection team, anticipating another close election, has begun to assemble one of the largest grass-roots organizations of any modern presidential campaign, using enormous financial resources and lack of primary opposition to seize an early advantage over the Democrats in the battle to mobilize voters in 2004.

Bush's campaign has an e-mail list totaling 6 million people, 10 times the number that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has, and the Bush operation is in the middle of an unprecedented drive to register 3 million new Republican voters. The campaign has set county vote targets in some states and has begun training thousands of volunteers who will recruit an army of door-to-door canvassers for the final days of the election next November.

The entire project, which includes complementary efforts by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and state Republican parties, is designed to tip the balance in a dozen-and-a-half states that both sides believe will determine the winner in 2004.

[...]

Given the reality that the president's campaign team cannot control such potentially decisive factors as the economy or events in Iraq, officials are determined to maximize their advantage in areas they can control. Rarely has a reelection committee begun organizing so early or intensively -- or with the kind of determination to hold state party and campaign officials, and their volunteers, accountable for meeting the goals of the Bush team.

In Ohio, for example, more than 70 elected officials and volunteer workers dial into a conference call every other Wednesday at 7 p.m. to report on their efforts to recruit leaders and voters, and to hear updates from Bush's campaign headquarters in Arlington. Roll is called, which initially surprised participants used to less regimented political operations.

[...]

Having the biggest presidential campaign treasury ever -- more than $105 million raised already and heading toward $170 million -- and no primary opposition gives Bush the luxury of focusing now on general-election organizing. The RNC and the Bush team have begun planning across a wide range of fronts, even including an analysis of which supporters are likely targets for absentee ballots or early voting, an increasingly critical aspect of turning out the vote.

The Bush campaign not only has started early, but also has set deadlines for developing its organization. In Ohio, there is a Dec. 1 deadline for recruiting county chairmen in the state's 88 counties. In Florida, the first three of a dozen planned training sessions have been held, and two campaign staffers are working out of an office in Tallahassee; county offices -- complete with plenty of lines for phone banks -- are scheduled to open shortly after Jan. 1.

In Iowa, the campaign's state chairman, David M. Roederer, said volunteers have been identified in all 99 counties, and they are working to expand their rosters down to the precinct level.

[...]

The Bush campaign will devote a portion of the estimated $170 million it will raise during the primary season to grass-roots organizing, although spending on television ads will still outstrip expenditures for the ground war. Any excess money in the Bush account can be given to the RNC at the time of the national convention next summer for get-out-the-vote efforts for Election Day in November.

The Bush campaign is focused now on building its state organizations, while the national committee is working on a variety of organizing efforts, including voter registration. Registration is important because, at a time when Bush enjoys about 90 percent support from self-identified Republicans, GOP officials believe there is no surer way of producing votes than getting more people registered with the party. The party is registering voters at NASCAR events and naturalization ceremonies, on college campuses and in targeted precincts.

The RNC has set state-by-state goals for registering voters, based on a formula that attempts to determine Bush's maximum potential vote percentage, all with an eye toward turning states that he narrowly lost or won in 2000 into winners next year.

In Oregon, which Bush lost to Al Gore by about 7,000 votes in 2000, the national committee's goal is to register 45,000 GOP voters by next year, enough to provide a cushion in a close election.

Republicans are using several techniques to reach and register voters. In New Hampshire, new homebuyers receive a postcard from the state GOP welcoming them to their neighborhood, explaining the party's historic opposition to higher taxes and urging them to register as Republicans. Party officials follow up with phone calls, often from volunteers in the same community, and next spring will begin going door to door.

In Arkansas, RNC officials recently hosted a breakfast for nearly 100 ministers, outlining ways they can assist parishioners in registering. Party officials plan to follow up by identifying volunteer coordinators in the churches to oversee those efforts.

In Illinois, Republicans have hired field operatives who will concentrate their efforts -- by telephone and sometimes face-to-face -- to identify and register likely GOP voters.

"If you've got a precinct where 50 percent [of registered voters] are Republicans and 30 percent are independents, there's probably gold to be mined in that precinct," said Bob Kjellander, one of 11 regional chairmen for the Bush reelection committee.

The campaign has staged splashy events to announce leadership teams in 16 of its targeted states, usually featuring Mehlman or campaign chairman Marc Racicot. The campaign's ambitions are evident from the depth of the organizations being assembled.

In each county, for example, the Bush operation will include an overall chairman; chairmen for surrogates, volunteers and voter registration; and an "e-chairman," whose responsibility is to communicate with supporters registered with the campaign Web site.

Campaign officials look for specific tasks to keep people involved. Team leaders have been asked to recruit five other team leaders and sign up 10 friends to receive campaign e-mails.

The campaign Web site includes an easy way for supporters to send letters in support of Bush's policies to local newspapers and has generated 28,000 letters since August. At training sessions, campaign workers are urged to help recruit participants for coalitions the campaign plans for teachers, farmers, Hispanics, African Americans, disabled people, law enforcement officials and sportsmen.


I don't want to be the blogosphere's Cassandra about this election. I do believe that the Democrats can win with a smart campaign. But, I am going to keep reminding people of what we are up against.

These guys are desperate to erase Junior's court appointment and win an election legitimately, thereby sealing what they believe to rightly be a permanent majority begun by St. Reagan. They are very, very rich and they are very, very organized. Their plan is refined down to the precinct level and it is nationally coordinated. They have no primary opposition so they will spend the next 9 months concentrating on nothing but the general election. Most importantly, they observe no limits and no rules.

If events of the last few months have taught us anything it's that starry-eyed faith in the cakewalk fantasies of true believers are very dangerous, indeed.

We can win, but we'd better be smart, agile, and prepared to wage this battle with our eyes wide open.







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