The Washington Times - June 30, 2008, 10:49AM

Sen. Barack Obama loves to talk about change happening from the “bottom up,” and the campaign demonstrated that this weekend with more than 4,000 “Unite for Change” house parties.



I had a piece in today’s paper taking a look at some of the parties along with their role in the overall election strategy.



Can an “Obamlet” with “Baraccoli” be a useful tool to win the presidential election? Sen. Barack Obama‘s team hopes so.

On Saturday, more than 4,000 people hosted Unite for Change house parties - some with cutesy food names - in honor of the presumptive Democratic nominee, an effort to build the campaign’s grass-roots supporters into a force that can’t be stopped in November.

It’s part of the multifaceted “persuasion army” Team Obama hopes to build to do much of its work in the final days of the election, convincing neighbors block by block why the Democrat should be president.


Read my full story here:


I quote campaign manager David Plouffe in the piece, as he went into detail about how he felt “human to human” contact in the thick of October politicking could be incredibly effective for the Democrats.


In a briefing with reporters last week at the DNC, Plouffe said technology allows the campaign to systematically target the voters they need.


“We’re not going to be tabling outside events and just randomly capturing people as our sole means of registering voters,” he said. “We’re going to go to where they live and convince them to register.”


In the piece I used Virginia to compare the two campaigns’ Web outreach to get grassroots going, but there is really no comparison. The Obama page gives multiple local options, the McCain page, not so much.


There’s also something more practical at work — free labor from more than 1 million volunteers — but Plouffe said it is about “more than volume.”


It will be more convincing for Obama volunteers to talk to swing voters who “talk like them and think like them,” he said, adding: “It’s a hard thing to quantify but it means something because they are not getting harangued by the same person” who would usually talk to them about politics.


Voters took ownership of the events, offering themes “Latina Women for Obama!” and “The Obama Livable Cities Group” for people interested in sustainable community development.


One woman in Maryland even hosted an event through the Obama page with a side topic: “How to keep our children safe from pedophiles.”


Plouffe said the “persuasion army” is a technique Republicans used effectively in 2004 to change minds at the last minute and boost turnout.


Team Obama offered the nominee’s thoughts on the importance of grassroots organizing in this video:





I did a few stories in our weekend editions. Here’s my take on the Clinton-Obama “Unity” event:


Also, I profiled Sen. Joe Biden as the veepstakes heat up even hotter:


Did ya know that Joe Biden was once terrified of public speaking? Yes, that Joe Biden, the senator from Delaware and former presidential candidate. The one who talks - a lot.

It may be hard to believe, but the man House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dubbed “Mr. Sunday Morning” for his frequent appearances on political talk shows struggled as a child to overcome a debilitating stutter.


Read my full profile here:



Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times



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