BARACK OBAMA 2.0…. There’s at least some precedent for presidential campaigns to transform their operations into permanent organizations after the race. In 1988, TV preacher Pat Robertson used his campaign operation to create the Christian Coalition. More recently, Howard Dean’s campaign venture was turned into Democracy for America.
In the 2008 race, however, Barack Obama created a grassroots political machine that can fairly be described as unprecedented. Something had to be done to keep this network and this team of volunteers going, and putting their energies to good post-election use.
And something is being done. The Washington Post noted this week that Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is reportedly prepared to oversee Obama’s “sprawling grass-roots political operation, which boasts 13 million e-mail addresses, 4 million cellphone contacts and 2 million active volunteers.” The LA Times reports on the kind of organization, known internally as “Barack Obama 2.0,” we’re likely to see.
As Barack Obama builds his administration and prepares to take office next week, his political team is quietly planning for a nationwide hiring binge that would marshal an army of full-time organizers to press the new president’s agenda and lay the foundation for his reelection. […]
Organizers and even Republicans say the scope of this permanent campaign structure is unprecedented for a president. People familiar with the plan say Obama’s team would use the network in part to pressure lawmakers — particularly wavering Democrats — to help him pass complex legislation on the economy, healthcare and energy.
The plan could prompt tensions with members of Congress, who are unlikely to welcome the idea of Obama’s political network targeting them from within their own districts.
Yes, that could be awkward. Obama’s operation would reportedly be focused on passing an agenda, and if Democratic lawmakers are inclined to break party ranks and oppose the president’s plans, then they’ll likely run into some grassroots complaints, in their own districts, as organized by their own party’s president.
For example, Democratic lawmakers in Republican-leaning districts might resist voting for an Obama-backed global warming bill. In that case, the White House or DNC could use the new network for phone campaigns, demonstrations or lobbying trips to push lawmakers to stick with Obama.
“You can pretty much target the list to people who haven’t always voted with Democrats,” said a House Democratic leadership aide familiar with the plan.
Presidents have always leaned on members of Congress from their own party to stick to the agenda, but no president will have the kind of leverage Obama is positioning himself to have.
According to the report, the organization could have an annual budget of $75 million in privately raised funds, and would be housed within the DNC. The entity would also “deploy hundreds of paid staff members — possibly one for every congressional district in certain politically important states and even more in larger battlegrounds such as Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina.” It may also have a non-profit arm focused on public service.
Republicans sound kind of jealous. Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who led Reagan’s political operation, said, “No one’s ever had these kinds of resources. This would be the greatest political organization ever put together, if it works.”