Saturday, May 19, 2007

"Canvassing For Obama In New Hampshire"

MANCHESTER, NH - Officially, the event held in a large, muddy parking lot north of the city was called a statewide grassroots canvas. Unofficially, let's call it the first of many "Saul Alinsky" days. Alinsky is the legendary organizer and theorist who Barack Obama reportedly counts as an inspiration. Heck, the journalist who wrote The Essay on Obama and Saul Alinsky -- The New Republic's Ryan Lizza -- was there.

To "canvass," means to go house-to-house and collect something. Today, Obama's team is collecting signatures to to pressure Sens. Gregg and Sununu to end the war in Iraq. Unoffiically, the event serves another,more Alinskian purpose. There are so many Obama volunteers statewide that the campaign itself cannot accomodate all the solicited help. So today's event is a place-holder of sorts, a way for those thousands of volunteers to invest their time for Obama's greater cause. The canvass cements their link to Obama by appealing to another part of their political self-interest.

A side benefit: big early grassroots events impress reporters. I was impressed.

A campaign spokesperson said that about 550 NH Dems shrugged off the rain and chilly weather to attend. Jim Demers, Obama's state co-chair, said he's never seen a canvass this large, this early. It's the first major canvass of the cycle in New Hampshire, we think.

A side benefit of today's war canvass: all the names collected will be entered into a database, and Obama's phone bank volunteers might just call to follow up.

A side note: Obama stopped by unannounced to Manchester's two famous political diners: the Red Arrow and the Merricmack. We're no Frank Bruni, but we'd recommend the Red Arrow.

Pictures of this morning's canvass kick-off follow.
The Chicago Tribune also covered this event: "Obama ramping up his ant-war effort." The official Barack Obama campaign website has more photos.



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