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Stalled Obama Campaign Machine Restarted for New Agenda

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03/28/2013 05:49 PM

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Stalled Obama Campaign Machine Restarted for New Agenda

Leadership by committee & public opinion polls

[link to www.bloomberg.com]

"President Barack Obama’s team redefined the way to run a national election. Now, it’s trying to do the same thing for issue-advocacy campaigns -- starting with the reinvention of its own operation.

“We did not do as good of a job” in advocating for the first-term agenda “as I would have hoped,” Obama told supporters at a March 13 dinner in Washington.
Enlarge image Stalled Obama Campaign Machine Jump-Started for New-Term Agenda

With the president facing the final opportunity to cement his legacy in his second term, Team Obama is trying anew.

Top former campaign and White House aides have once again converted his campaign machine -- the political juggernaut of 2012 with 20 million e-mail addresses and 4 million volunteers - - into a policy-advocacy organization, renamed Organizing for Action. Just as it did four years ago, the group has tapped as leaders the president’s closest allies, including 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina and field organizer Jon Carson.

At stake are Obama’s closing legislative priorities, ranging from gun safety to a historic revision of immigration laws. The group also plans to engage in the deficit-reduction debate, which may provide the president with an opportunity to strike an agreement with U.S. House Republicans on changes to the tax code and such entitlements as Medicare (USBOMDCA) that would influence the nation’s financial picture for decades.
Avoiding Mistakes

Improving the effectiveness of the advocacy group is deemed critical to avoiding the mistakes of the first term. Within two years of Obama taking office, the effort called Organizing for America had failed to win over the public to his health-care legislation, stood powerless as Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 elections, and had deepened rifts within the Democratic Party.

Some political strategists say there’s no evidence this new incarnation of OFA will fare any better than its predecessor; without a re-election fight for the president, it could be more difficult to sustain volunteer enthusiasm and raise money.

“What they’re trying to do -- grassroots issues work between campaigns is vital -- has been talked about or attempted for as long as I can remember,” said Steve Rosenthal, a former political director for the AFL-CIO labor federation who now works as an organizing consultant based in Washington. “It’s always been hard to raise money, particularly without the potency of a campaign.”
Independent Group

This time will be different, Messina said during a March 26 Bloomberg Government luncheon in Washington.

While the first OFA was housed inside the Democratic National Committee, the new group is “nonpartisan” and independent, organized as a nonprofit that is free of campaign- finance limitations on the size of donations. And Messina said the organization will focus its volunteer force more on local issues -- such as gay-marriage legislation in Illinois -- as well as federal legislative campaigns in order to enrich its member relationships and interactions.

“We played an inside game,” he said, criticizing the first OFA. “People forgot it was ‘yes, we can,’ and kind of got into the ‘yes, he can.’”

One indisputable benefit of the group: OFA’s first-term outreach enabled Obama’s team to expand and continuously update its database of voters, giving the 2012 campaign a head start. That list remains one of the Democratic Party’s most valuable assets, and the revamped OFA plans to keep it current.

Already, Obama-centric e-mail missives arrive almost daily in millions of in-boxes, asking recipients to call their representative or organize their communities on issues such as gun control, immigration and the budget. Today, Obama supporters will participate in gun-control rallies across the country...
"Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, 'What's in it for me?'" — Brian Tracy: Personal and business training author, speaker, and consultant

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