Saturday, 21 June 2008

The View from the Britons

My thanks to Roger Darlington for writing up his view of our Obama London meeting last night. I really enjoyed reading his warm and thoughtful perspective on the meeting - and I only have one minor quibble (this wasn't the first Obama London group meeting - we've been going since September 2007 - only the first since he's been the nominee).

I'm really delighted by the interest that non-Americans have shown in this race, and the level of active engagement from my British friends and colleauges has been really inspiring. On the other hand, it does create some challenges - we had a long discussion last night about exactly what non US citizens can and can't do for the campaign. Long story short - we can't take their money, in any form.

But for a free grassroots event such as the ones I run, it's a pleasure to be able to welcome them.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Obama Persuades Move On to Scrap Its 527

As I was saying below - Obama intends to run this campaign without the "benefit" of 527 money freely spending on his behalf. To back this up, he has now agreed with the Obama-endorsing grassroots group Move On that they will eliminate their independent 527. This group raised $20 Million for John Kerry in 2004.

But the Obama campaign prefers to rely primarily on small dollar contributions from millions of donors rather than the larger amounts that can be given by big dollar men to independent groups.

I'm glad to be one of the millions of givers. If you aren't one already, you should be. Donate 51 bucks today for a whole new way of conducting our politics - in all 50 states plus Americans Abroad.

Obama Opts Out of Public Financing

Yesterday, Barack announced that he would not accept public financing for the general election. He made the announcement in the form of this video to his supporters:

As he discusses in this video, Barack is concerned that with the Republicans benefiting from potentially unrestrained 527 expenditure at the same time he himself as made efforts to reign in third party expenditure on the election.

The way in which Barack proposes to fund this election is through millions of small dollar donations from millions of Americans, who give directly to the campaign or to the DNC, both of which will be directly accountable to him. There will be no room for shady smear artists distantly connected to the campaign to cast aspersions on John McCain's character. There will be no donations ever taken from any lobbyists or PACs. And no lobbyist will work for his campaign.

I have an additional longstanding interest in this that makes me very glad that Barack has taken this decision (which must have been difficult for him given his longstanding support for the principle of public financing). In this Presidential campaign, Barack Obama plans to compete in every single state in the Union. He will staff Texas and Tennessee, Nebraska and Alaska, Ohio and Oregon.

I'm not aware of any Presidential election in my lifetime that has reached out to every single United States citizen - including those of us who live abroad. Normally you expect to be left out of the political sphere entirely unless you live in one of several poll driven "swing states".

This year we are ALL swing voters and Barack will speak to all of us about the kind of country he wants to lead and the kind of America we want to be. That kind of campaign takes a ridiculous, huge amount of money to run. But I personally can't see it as anything but a very good thing for Democracy.

Want to be a part of it? Give now. How about 51 bucks - one dollar for each state plus a "sweetener" for Americans Abroad?

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Tonight's Obama London Meeting

I'll report back in more detail (plus pictures!) over the next couple of days, but I wanted to say quickly how pleased I was with tonight's Obama London General Election Kickoff meeting. We had a huge group - really filling the room, with many people good naturedly willing to stand throughout.

It was wonderful to see some old faces there, including folks like Candace Allen, Rob Carolina and Bill Rubin who have been working for a Obama wince the very beginning.

And it was equally wonderful to see a lot of new faces there, fired up and ready to go.

Stephanie Stewart, our Democrats Abroad UK Vice Chair and voter registration "goddess" did a great job giving everyone the essential facts about how to register voters oversees. Now I'm counting on everyone who was there to take the next step and actually sign up to get otu there and register those voters.

Bill Barnard, Chair of Democrats Abroad UK spoke at the very end of the meeting and he really put this year into perspective for me by reminding us all of how far we have come as a party and as a country, and the potential for how far we could go. As Bill pointed out, this year could be a transformative election - not just switching the party in the White House, but switching the party of majority for the first time in a generation. The stakes are high - but the potential is equally huge.

I'm glad that Barack Obama has emerged at this moment in time to carry our banner - the right man for the right time.

And I'm equally glad to be sharing this moment in time with the 50 or so fired up individuals who came to our event tonight. Remember, WE are the change we have been waiting for.

I reminded the group tonight of something that Barack said in his thank you address to his supporters, because it really struck me as important. After thanking his staff and pointing out how grateful he was for what they have been able to achieve together, he reminded them all how unlikely it was for them take that journey. How surprising, and remarkable it was for this group of people to do what they have done. But then reminded them that there's a responsibility that comes with that achievement. "Because we won, we have to win."

It's time for everyone who supported Barack in the primary to double down on thier involvement. Because THIS time if we don't win, we're not only disappointing ourselves, but our party and our country. Everyone who voted in the Democratic primary deserves to see their issues respected in the next white house, and that means Barack needs to win.

In the next few days I'll be posting volunteer opportunities for voter registration, as well as further ways you can support this group in our efforts. I hope you will all pitch in - remember, that if we do not do the work ourselves of moving our country forward, noone else is going to take up the slack: WE are the change we've been waiting for.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Tomorrow's General Election Kickoff Meeting

Don't forget, tomorrow at the Duke of York pub we'll meet to kick off the General Election with a drink and a smile.

The room may be a bit over-crowded (that's what we call a mixed blessing) but I hope you'll stick around for a riveting update direct from recently returned Obama campaign staffer Bill Rubin, Voter Registration training, and an update on the role of the Democratic party in this election from Democrats Abroad Chair Bill Barnard.

Plus, I'd like to discuss with your our plans for the Obama London Group and ways you can pitch in to help us Get out the Vote for Barack this year.

Time: 19:00

Location: The Duke of York Pub New Cavendish Street (just off Marylebone High Road)

If you've already RSVPed - many thanks! If not, but you do plan to attend please do drop me a line.

And finally, as a sneak preview of tomorrow's discussion - once you've had your voter registration training from Stephanie tomorrow, I'm hoping that a whole bunch of you will want to get involved with the Democrats Abroad Voter registration program. There are loads of fun and fabulous volunteer opportunities coming up where you can help to register US voters - below is a sample list.

22 June - 12:15 - Governor Dean speaks to DA - Imperial College - Need three people

24 June - 12:00 - 2:00pm - Goldman Sachs - Fleet Street - Need one more person

23 - 28 June - 6:30 - 8:00am - Americans in the line for Wimbledon Law Tennis Championship - Leaflet &/or register voters - ITS EARLY BUT IT IS FUN!

30 June - 12:00 - 2:00pm - Goldman Sachs - Fleet Street - Register voters

5 July - 2:30pm - American Meet-up 4th of July BBQ - Mile End Park - E3 - Leaflet and/or register voters

If you want to help out on any of these dates, or you want to join Stephanie's Voter Registration mailing list - just drop her a note on

We're Winning Pennsylvania, Ohio and FLORIDA?

Is it too good to be true? Following on from yesterday's good news from PPP, Quinipiac now has Obama ahead of McCain in all three of the most critical swing states - Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

Can it really be true? A sweep of all three of these states (or any two) plus holding Kerry's states from 2004 would give Barack an Electoral vote landslide - especially when you factor in his likely pickups in the formerly red states of Colorado and New Mexico.

But it's JUNE. We've hardly started yet. A lot can happen between now and November 4. It's hard to know whether a comparison with 2004 is helpful or not - some polls had John Kerry ahead of Bush some had him behind at this point.

But McCain is not Bush, and Obama is no John Kerry. With all due respect to my home state Senator, who I worked hard for in 2004 - Kerry never took fire the way that Barack has this year, and the level of enthusiasm within his supporters is extremely high. According to the polling more two thirds of those supporting Barack say they are very excited about his candidacy. By contrast only 34 percent of McCain's supporters felt the same way.

So all the early indicators are pointing our way.

It's good. Very, very good. And if you're like me you're thinking "What if it IS too good to be true? What if things swing back, what if Barack gets attacked, what if something happens etc. etc...."

But there's an easy answer to that. Don't get complacent. Make sure you are registered to vote. Make sure ALL your American friends are registered to vote. Call your family and remind them to vote. Call your Republican Great Aunt Bertha in Plano Texas who hasn't voted for a Democrat in half a century and tell her this is the year to do it. Write to your 17 year old niece and remind her that if she's 18 before election day she can be part of something really exciting. Get her registered.

Volunteer to register voters for Democrats Abroad here in the UK. Stephanie Stewart (who will be talking to us tomorrow) runs a great voter registration program and she needs all the help she can get.

Use the Fight the Smears website to, well, fight the smears by telling the truth to anyone who sends you false information about Barack.

Good polls - good start! But we're just getting started!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Omaha, Nebraska - Center of the Political Universe?

The Electoral Map website has come up with a bizarrely plausible scenario in which the election would result in an electoral vote tie - McCain hold Bush's 2004 states but picks up New Hampshire while Obama keeps Kerry's states plus Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico. The tie-breaker could potentially be decided in Nebraska which splits its electoral votes. Normally this has never mattered because Nebraska goes universally Republican but in this case Obama has a chance to pick up the one Electoral Vote distributed in the region that contains Omaha.

Is Omaha Nebraska going to become the new Florida? In this crazy world, it seems anything can happen.

Still, I'm thinking we don't need to ever let it get that close (especially now that we are ahead in Ohio).

Obama 11 Points Up in Ohio (!)

The respected polling firm Public Policy Polling has just released the first major survey of Ohio since the end of the primary season.

The results show an AMAZING 11 (eleven!) point lead for Barack Obama over John McCain. I found it interesting that his support is equally high across both genders - 49% from women and 50% from men with 12% of women undecided compared with 10% of men.

Obviously, things can change quickly in a campaign and Barack has a lot of work to do between now and november, but this is a great start. I'm sure I don't need to remind you that if John Kerry had margins this good in Ohio, George W Bush would be a distant memory by now.

In PPP's last Ohio poll, McCain was ahead of Obama by 49% to 41%, suggesting that following the end of the primary voters are refocussing on their objections to the Republicans (and don't forget that in addition to the disasters of the Bush administration, the Republicans have severly mismanaged Ohio on a local level).

In national polling, the Washington Post released a poll today that also shows a clear Obama lead - 49% to 45% amongst registered voters.

I'm feeling pretty good about things right now.

That About Sums It Up

"John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for a hundred years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can't have him."

Al Gore E-mails Me

So Al Gore, the President of Should Have Been (a wonderful land in which Iraq was not invaded, climate change was halted - or at least slowed - and Katrina was responded to effectively) has e-mailed me to tell me of his support for Barack Obama.

Gore campaigned with Barack yesterday night in Detroit - check out the full e-mail below. Video at the bottom of the post.

Dear Karin,

Tonight, I will step on stage in Detroit, Michigan to announce my support for Senator Barack Obama. From now through Election Day, I intend to do whatever I can to make sure he is elected President of the United States.

Over the next four years, we are going to face many difficult challenges -- including bringing our troops home from Iraq, fixing our economy, and solving the climate crisis. Barack Obama is clearly the candidate best able to solve these problems and bring change to America.

This moment and this election are too important to let pass without taking action.
That's why I am asking you to join me in showing your support by making a contribution to this campaign today:

Over the past 18 months, Barack Obama has united a movement. He knows change does not come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or Capitol Hill. It begins when people stand up and take action.

With the help of millions of supporters like you, Barack Obama will bring the change we so desperately need in order to solve our country's most pressing problems.
If you've already contributed to this campaign, I ask that you consider making another contribution right now. If you haven't, please take the next step and own a piece of this campaign today:

On the issues that matter most, Barack Obama is clearly the right choice to lead our nation.

We have a lot of work to do in the next few months to elect Barack Obama president, and it begins by making a contribution to this campaign today.

Thank you for joining me,

Al Gore

P.S. -- Visit to read my journal and learn more about our movement to solve the climate crisis.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Barack Obama as Manager

I found this article on Barack's management style really fascinating. As I think the effectiveness of his campaign testifies, Obama seems to be an effective delegator who is skilled at identifying his priorities.

Most high-level gatherings involving Mr. Obama are held either in his kitchen or at an office away from campaign headquarters, and are expected to unfold in an orderly manner. Written agendas and concise briefings are preferred.

He does not stir dissent simply for dissent’s sake, but often employs a Socratic method of discussion, where aides put ideas forward for him to accept or reject...

“He doesn’t sit there for hours chewing on it and discussing it,” said Susan Rice, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Obama who worked in the Clinton administration. “He’s very thorough, yet efficient about it.”

Barack Obama Volunteers in Flooded Area

As he has almost every day throughout this campaign, Barack Obama reminded me again today why I support him.

He volunteered this weekend in a flood stricken part of rural Illinois, filling sandbags and talking with folks there. But he didn't leave it with a photo op - he used his extensive e-mail list across the flood stricken areas to ask his supporters to go out and pitch in as well. Wish I were there - I'd be right there beside him with a shovel.

John McCain's Negatives at Record High

A recent Pew Research Survey has found that John McCain's previous reputation for independence from the Republican party has been lost and negative perceptions of him are now at a record high. Previously, when asked to describe McCain, those polled would volunteer words such as "Maverick". What is now the number one word used to describe McCain by poll participants? Well, actually, it's "Old."


Still, the poll reports that: "Voters who don't like McCain are, by an overwhelming margin, rejecting his political beliefs, not the kind of person he is."

I'd add a hearty, "well, duh" to that. The problem with John McCain isn't that he's a bad guy it's that he has bad policies - policies that line up 99% with those of George W Bush. Policies that the country has tried out over the last few years and found, to say the least, not very effective.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


I just wanted to highlight a few important posts that you may have missed while you were busy having a life over the last few days:

Policy Focus: Women's Issues

As I have tried to show in previous messages, there is simply no comparision on women's issues between Barack Obama - who has fought his entire life to protect the reproductive, employment and civil rights of women - and John McCain who has been actively hostile to our rights.

But women do not really need to be told this. Women are smarter than that. Women are the heroines of our democracy. In every election they vote in larger numbers than men, and in every election they are more likely to vote Democratic. That's not because politics has been especially welcoming to women - it hasn't. And it's not because the Democratic party has always lived up to its own ideals on women's issues - it hasn't.

Women vote, and vote Democrat because they care. They care about a whole range of issues from the quality of education to services for the poor. They care about ending this war and they care about preventing future wars. They care about keeping this nation safe - and they care about the safety of our troops who are doing this work for us.

On these issues and on so many more, there is simply no comparison. John McCain has literally NO PLAN on education. He believes in endless war followed by endless occupation. He proposes a tax plan that would provide huge benefits to the most wealthy and leave the poorest out in the cold.

These are all women's issues. So unquestionably, Barack Obama is the women's candidate even though he is not a woman candidate.

This Frank Rich article is well worth a read in full.

You’d never guess that Mr. McCain is a fierce foe of abortion rights or that he voted to terminate the federal family-planning program that provides breast-cancer screenings. You’d never know that his new campaign blogger, recruited from The Weekly Standard, had shown his genuine affection for Mrs. Clinton earlier this year by portraying her as a liar and whiner and by piling on with a locker-room jeer after she’d been called a monster. “Tell us something we don’t know,” he wrote.

But while the McCain campaign apparently believes that women are easy marks for its latent feminist cross-dressing, a reality check suggests that most women can instantly identify any man who’s hitting on them for selfish ends. New polls show Mr. Obama opening up a huge lead among female voters — beating Mr. McCain by 13 percentage points in the Gallup and Rasmussen polls and by 19 points in the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey.

How huge is a 13- to 19-percentage-point lead? John Kerry won women by only
3 points
, Al Gore by 11.