29 Jan 2008

Obama Campaign: Share Feelings, Avoid Substance

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The Sacramento Bee reveals the fundamental strategy of the Obama campaign: warm, fuzzy emotionalism and no specifics about policy.

It’s obvious that Obama can charm, but is that any reason to promote a State Senator who got into the US Senate by a fluke to the White House? The more I see of him the more convinced I am that he should be selling cars.

On the verge of a hectic few weeks leading to Super Tuesday, the crucial Feb. 5 multistate primary including California’s, Mack wanted to drill home one of the campaign’s key strategies: telling potential voters personal stories of political conversion.

She urged volunteers to hone their own stories of how they came to Obama – something they could compress into 30 seconds on the phone.

“Work on that, refine that, say it in the mirror,” she said. “Get it down.”

She told the volunteers that potential voters would no doubt confront them with policy questions. Mack’s direction: Don’t go there. Refer them to Obama’s Web site, which includes enough material to sate any wonk.

The idea behind the personal narratives is to reclaim “values” politics from the Republican Party, said Marshall Ganz, a one-time labor organizer for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers who developed “Camp Obama” training sessions for volunteers.

When people tell their stories of how they made choices and what motivates them, they communicate their values, Ganz said in an interview.

“Values are not just concepts, they’re feelings,” Ganz said. “That’s what dropped out of Democratic politics sometime in the ’70s or ’80s.”

To convey these values, the Obama campaign claims to be taking grass-roots organizing to a new level, harnessing what they describe as a groundswell of enthusiasm.

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