1:40 pm Apr. 19, 2012
The Obama re-election campaign will be busing New York supporters to Pennsylvania to try to turn people out for the uncontested Democratic primary on April 24.
"In New York, Barack Obama is already on the ballot, everything's fine and kosher, no need to worry locally," Ny Whitaker, a campaign volunteer, told the Barack Obama Democratic Club at a meeting in Harlem in early April. "But very concerned, very worried, about Pennsylvania. So we'll be having a get out the vote—GOTV—event. We're actually going to bus people to Pennsylvania, free."
With the general election just six months away, the Obama campaign is beginning to come to life nationally, in an effort to reproduce the organizational muscle, if not the enthusiasm, of 2008. And as the media's attention turns from the only-nominally contested Republican primary to general-election process stories, the Obama camp would probably prefer, for now, that the narrative be about people rather than money.
There's another motivation, too: The campaign is ostensibly using April 24, when both New York and Pennsylvania hold their primaries, to re-connect with potential supporters who they'll need for the general election.
"We took about 150 people to Pennsylvania last month. We want to double that number this month," Whitaker said. "Because April 24, Barack Obama will be on the ballot in Pennsylvania, and we want to send a clear message that we are his supporters and we want him to get re-elected."
Whitaker was handing out a list of campaign events that offer a snapshot of what the campaign has been doing to continue building its organization this month.
There was a Latinos for Obama meeting early this month at the main Obama for America NYC office on East 21st Street. And on April 9 there was a "Voter Protection Initiative" meeting at the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf, featuring the Democratic National Commitee's voter protection director, Will Crossley.
There was also a "Harlem/Northern Manhattan Neighborhood Team Meeting," and a "Camp Obama Training." Those are now scheduled to take place every second and fourth Saturday at the main office.
According to the New York page on the campaign's web site, which offers a broader look at what the campaign is up to across the city and the state, there will be a special Camp Obama presentation for Asian-American and Pacific Islanders this Saturday, with special guest star, Kal Penn, the Harold and Kumar actor who until recently served as the associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. (Also on the list of organizers is Reshma Saujani, who has helped the president raise money from the South Asian community, and might be a future candidate for Public Advocate.)
And, on any given night, there seem to be a few things happening across the five boroughs.
Tonight, to prepare for the Pennsylvania push, there's a webcast strategy conference on the Upper East Side that will virtually introduce New York organizers to its "sister teams" in Philadelphia.
In Park Slope, they'll be more old-fashioned, as volunteers gather to phonebank and also write letters to Pennsylvania voters in Republican congressional districts. ("If you want to write letters, bring some postage and we'll take care of the rest," says the invite.)
And, also tonight, at a venue listed only as "Kate's Apartment" there's a training session specifically aimed at how to talk to voters about economic issues.
For those who don't make the trip to Philadelphia by bus on April 21st, there will be phone banks in New York City (at "various locations"), to make calls to Pennsylvania voters.
And on primary day, according to the flier, they'll celebrate with house parties.