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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Dean's 50-state strategy proven by Obama

"The Obama campaign is what all of us hoped Dean for President would become"

An excellent read from Ari Berman of The Nation points out what the Clintons would like to summarily dismiss: Banking your hopes on a few key swing states and several large donors every four years is no way to win elections. Targeting every state and building from the ground up IS. We never got to view the results of Dean's efforts in 2004, but Barack Obama has followed his playbook to outstanding success, leaving the Clinton camp to wonder why they didn't have it "put away by Feb.5".

On November 7, 2006, all the top Democrats graced the stage of the Hyatt Regency ballroom in Washington for a big election-night victory party. All of them, that is, except Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The party leadership had accused Dean of spending too much money on rebuilding moribund parties in red states and not enough on key Congressional races where Democratic pickups could strengthen their narrow majority.

The results that night, as Democrats recaptured Congress, seemed to settle the argument in Dean's favor. But key Democrats, including Representative Rahm Emanuel, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, weren't satisfied, and Dean opted to stay away from the celebration, doing TV interviews instead. A week later, Democratic strategist James Carville, another prominent Clintonite, labeled the DNC leadership "Rumsfeldian in its competence," and called on Dean to resign. He floated the name of Harold Ford Jr., now chair of the right-leaning Democratic Leadership Council, as a replacement. There was rampant speculation inside the Beltway that Carville wasn't offering an unsolicited opinion but rather carrying water for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Early last year, Obama began placing resources and satellite offices in red states like Idaho, Alaska and Alabama, where he won handily. These were the sort of places in which Dean has heavily invested . For any progressive who wants to see Democrats compete in all fifty states, and believes in the Dean Strategy, you'd have to give the nod to Obama, who wisely hit places where the party had barely existed years before. "They told me there weren't any Democrats in Idaho," Obama told a raucous crowd of 14,000 in Boise. "I didn't believe them." On Super Tuesday Obama won fifteen of Idaho's eighteen delegates and virtually swept the Midwest and Mountain West. As Howard would say:

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