- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2009

President Obama’s grass-roots supporters remain energized and ready for him to call them to action and service, pledging they will mobilize around the new administration’s policies.

Obama loyalists who knocked on doors, gave money and made phone calls for more than a year are still glowing from his ascension to the presidency, but say they recognize it’s time to roll up their sleeves again.

“That whole strategy and network is going to keep building,” said Carol Myers, a former high school principal from Indianapolis.

“I see people getting mobilized. … He’s going to push that, and it’s not just him, it’s this whole network of people who are now saying, ‘What can we do?’” she said. “If there’s a flood in Cincinnati, it’s not just going to be Cincinnati that’s going to be dealing with it. It’s just the beginning of that kind of compassion and commitment and action and that feeling that we’re all part of this.”

“You’re right,” responded Marie Engles, of Springboro, Ohio. “We’re all in it together.”

The Washington Times captured that conversation between the two voters, who had nothing in common except Mr. Obama.

The newspaper recently hosted a luncheon for 10 people living in areas ranging from San Francisco to rural South Carolina who came to Washington for the Obama inauguration, helping to bring together the coalition that contributed to his win.

Each supporter — ranging from a teen just leaving high school to members of a generation that witnessed bitter racial inequality — expressed a determination to continue a movement they think Mr. Obama built by using technology and a personal story to which they could relate.

Jennifer Benz, a small-business owner in San Francisco, already has taken up the Obama push to mobilize around policy. She attended one of the Obama-organized postelection house parties and was impressed by the turnout and how willing voters were to continue their involvement.

Mr. Obama will need his people to rally behind his agenda as he faces some Republican opposition to his spending plans, and he is asking for a sense of urgency.

“The movement you built is too important to stop growing now,” Mr. Obama told supporters in a recent Web video announcing that his campaign had morphed into a new outlet called Organizing for America. It will be treated as a special project housed at the Democratic National Committee.

“We cannot do this without you,” he said. “The change we’ve worked so hard for will not happen unless ordinary Americans get involved, and supporters like you must lead the way.”

A Democratic source familiar with the changes said officials are still brainstorming about how to create the next generation of organizing, since there is no candidate, nor campaign end date.

The source said it’s a challenge to keep voters continually engaged around issues, but noted that Obama supporters overwhelmingly said in a recent survey they want to remain active.

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