Washington Post Magazine on Barack Obama

The Washington Post Magazine has a lenghty article on Barack Obama. I’ll present one section which deals with Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. I previously posted the text of the speech here.

In early summer of 2004, organizers of the Democratic presidential convention were faced with some challenges, chief among them the fact that no Bush-bashing would be allowed among convention speakers. The Kerry campaign didn’t want to alienate swing voters by speaking ill of Republicans. So the convention needed speakers who could present an upbeat message and still sound compelling.

There were some givens. Bill Clinton would be the prime time speaker Monday night; the third and fourth nights would feature John Edwards and John Kerry, respectively. On Tuesday they wanted a keynote speaker in the tradition of the great keynoters of the past: Barbara Jordan, Mario Cuomo, Ann Richards, “people who inspired hope,” as Donna Brazile puts it, “and not only inspired hope, but laid a framework for the party.”

There were a number of criteria as planners began proposing candidates. Youth was desirable, and freshness, and diversity. “We were trying to think creatively of the next generation of leaders,” says one campaign official. They came up with a list of Democratic governors that included Mark Warner of Virginia, Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Tom Vilsack of Iowa: solid choices, but a list that, as the official put it, “didn’t get us where we wanted to go.” Jennifer Granholm, the photogenic new governor of Michigan, was also on the list. And Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, who had read some of the coverage following Obama’s primary victory, proposed Obama.

It was an appealing idea. Obama was known to be a speaker who could get a crowd going. He was a Midwesterner from a major industrial state, providing a demographic complement to Southerner Edwards and Northerner Kerry. But these things were also true of Granholm.

(more…)

Gore 2000 Staff Available Should He Decide to Run

The Gore watch continues, today from The Hill which reports that many members of his 2000 team are still uncommitted. This includes campaign manager Donna Brazile, policy director Elaine Kamarck, media strategist Tad Devine, traveling chief of staff Michael Feldman, spokesmen Chris Lehane and Jano Cabrera, and strategists Bob Shrum, Michael Whouley and Monica Dixon.

Many of those who spoke with The Hill gave reasons for not getting involved in the primary race and many stated that they do not expect Gore to run. Most of them also remained out of the 2004 race, while Shrum and Whouley did get involved due to connections to John Kerry. The article really says nothing to answer the question of whether Gore will  run. It is of interest that, should he decide to run, he has potential staff available, giving him the freedom to wait to see how the race shapes up to decide. There is also the question, considering the problems in the 2000 campaign, of whether he would be best off with his old staffers should he run again.

Oscar Win Stimulates Further Speculation of Gore Run

The publicity from last night’s Oscar win has predictably started yet another round of speculation among those who would like to see Gore elected President again. Politco provides a good round up of his recent activity and comments, much of which has already been the subject of posts here and around the blogosphere. They quote Donna Brazile:

“Honestly, this was the inaugural parade we all envisioned,” said Donna Brazile, his former campaign manager. “Gore’s political stock is hot right now. I don’t know if I would cash in now with so many players still on stage. There’s no reason to force him to declare tomorrow. ”

Indeed, Brazile said the former vice president could wait as late as the time states begin requiring delegate slates and statements of candidacy, since he could raise money quickly and much of the campaigns’ budgets are devoted to a long nominating process he would avoid. “This was one of those rare moments, similar to the civil rights movement, when you experience the ground shifting,” she said. “Perhaps it’s not a movement for a presidential run, but a moment for the debate to start for real change on how we live on planet earth.”

Washington Whispers speculated yesterday that Gore could wait to enter the race as he could finance the early stages of a run himself:

If you’re wondering why, despite his denials, Al Gore remains the most talked about nonpresidential candidate, it’s this: His friends think he’s done so well in the private world that he could bankroll the start of his own 2008 bid. “If Al Gore wants to run, he will come with all the means necessary,” says longtime ally Donna Brazile. “Al Gore is someone who can pull it off at half time,” she said. But he’s got competing interests for his wallet: Friends say he also wants to expand his global climate change campaign.

Brazile Predicts Gore Might Enter Race


I heard Donna Brazile on NPR recently saying that she did not believe that Gore was running. (As she was saying the same as Gore, I didn’t consider that newsworthy so I didn’t keep an exact quote or link.) I now find it interesting that she is now raising the possibility that Gore might run:

His former campaign manager, Donna Brazile, strongly implied that possibility while speaking at Moravian College in Bethlehem Tuesday night.

”Wait till Oscar night,” Brazile told an audience of about 100 people at Haupert Student Union. ”I tell people: ‘I’m dating. I haven’t fallen in love yet.’ On Oscar night, if Al Gore has slimmed down 25 or 30 pounds, Lord knows.”

Brazile was also asked about this after the speech:

”I believe [Gore] is ready for this moment,” Brazile said in an interview after her speech. ”He is a good leader. I think he can be one of the few leaders who can bring this country together.”

She acknowledged it will be a tough decision for Gore, noting Kerry’s announcement last week to bow out of the race. Gore believes he is now doing his life’s work, Brazile said. However, she conceded that Gore might be able to do more about global climate change from inside the Oval Office. He has already made an impact by forcing President Bush to talk about the issue, she said.

If an Oscar win would give Gore momentum towards a run, the Nobel Peace Prize might do even more. Gore has the name recognition and support to wait until October to get into the race if he desires. If Gore runs for President, will conservatives attempt to repeat yesterday’s farce and get Rush Limbaugh to also enter the race?