The Washington Times - June 30, 2009, 06:41PM

Organizing for America, President Obama’s campaign arm housed at the DNC, is raising money to start television ads starring some of the hundreds of thousands of people who submitted their own personal health care stories.

“These personal messages will make a powerful case for why we need comprehensive health care reform, and need it now,” OFA writes to Web donors who contribute to the effort.

“With help from OFA supporters like you, we should be able to get the first of these messages produced and in front of voters in key areas within a matter days,” OFA says.

The effort doesn’t specify which voters are defined as from “key areas” — perhaps those living in states with senators who don’t support Obama’s call for a public option to be included in the health care reform bill working its way through Congress.

Last week, MoveOn.org announced it would be targeting Sen. Kay Hagan, a freshman red-state Democrat who said she wouldn’t support a public option.

MoveOn said the ads would run in her home state of North Carolina and also in D.C., noting that many of her volunteers and donors from the 2008 campaign want a public option included in the plan.

The OFA solicitation was sent to the 13-million strong Obama campaign list as well as to Democrats on the DNC email list.

“The stories have been read millions of times, and the reaction is an overwhelming, ‘Wow — we’ve got to get to work,’” Mitch Stewart, executive director of OFA, tells supporters in the email, which directs donors to a spiffy new logo.

 

 

“Here’s our latest idea: Putting our supporters in coast-to-coast television and online ads, telling their own stories, in their own voice. It could be a breakthrough moment in this debate, when millions of Americans realize how urgent reform really is,” Stewart wrote, adding the air time “won’t be cheap” and asking for donations.

Stewart also points out the Clinton effort failed in part thanks to the fake “real people” named Harry and Louise who ran ads during the debate over the health care bill.

“Phony stories helped defeat health care reform in the past. But this time, real stories could be the reason we win,” he wrote.

Earlier this month I looked at this strategy, noting in a story in our Plugged in Politics section that personal stories didn’t help the Clinton effort.

 

Their stories of health care heartbreak were so gut-wrenching and compelling, so the theory went, surely policy would change.

The year was 1993, and instead of leading to a sweeping overhaul of the health care system that the young new Democratic president had promised, those stories are now artifacts in an ex-president’s library, a testament to a monumental, failed effort.

As another Democratic president tackles the issue, President Obama’s team is going after those same stories of tears, loss and a health care system gone wrong that President Bill Clinton and his aides once employed. 

 

Read the full story here.

There’s no way of knowing yet if these real stories will make the difference this time around, or if having a 60th Democratic senator could make the Obama health care plan a reality.

But the White House thinks it’s a winning strategy since it is, after all, one Obama used successfully during the election.

Obama holds a health care town hall tomorrow in Northern Virginia, and I’ll bet the president will be telling more of those personal stories.

 

— Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent, 
The Washington Times

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