The further adventures of a blogger in Iowa. This and other entries in the series can also be found on Southpaw
. Henceforth, accompanying jpgs will only be served up on Southpaw, as dKos is slashdotting the hell out of our servers!
Perfect Storm Indeed!
Joe Trippi and the obscene phone bank
Things not to do while canvassing
Day 4: Mission Impossible
Day 5: Angry drunken Deanies destroy Democracy!
Days 6-8: The accidental Dan Savage
Days 9-10: Looks like I picked the wrong week
Calm before the Storm
Day 13: The Storm begins
Day 14: Tim Russert is (allegedly) a damn kleptomaniac!
Extended entry follows:
Saturday, January 17: Day 2 of the final Perfect Storm weekend
Today started out insanely early in the morning. I popped out of bed bright and cheery (lie) at 5:00-ish am (true). Thank you Baby Jesus for putting snooze buttons on cell phone alarms. I got about 3 hours of sleep, maybe, despite having gone to bed early. Bronchitis is a bitch.
This morning was the BFA gathering otherwise known as Blogger's Breakfast. Well over 100 or so BFA participants met for breakfast at the Des Moines Botanical Center, an event organized and paid for by a fellow BFA'er, Darrell in Iowa (we chipped in to a donation pot to help him defray the cost). There were two Iowa sweatshirts to sign with our blog names that were to be given to two special guests. I never did find out who those special guests were, but I suspect one of them was Gwen Graham Logan (Bob Graham's daughter) and the other was Trippi, who was originally supposed to have been there, but couldn't make it because we moved the time up an hour and he had been up until 4:00 am, apparently.
We did have another special guest, though. Congressman Leonard Boswell, the rep. the Dean campaign raised $60,000 or so for some weeks back, showed up to thank us for what we've done. He not only thanked us for helping him out, but for all the work we're doing for the party and for the cause of getting Bush out of the White House. It was a rousing little speech with many ovations.
Next, we all stood up and introduced ourselves by our real name and our blog name. This was particularly comical and inspirational because after each introduction, there was invariably a moment of gasping recognition followed by wild applause throughout the room. I think the wildest applause followed when Dean campaign photographer, John Pettit, introduced himself. He's something of a folk hero with BFAers. He's our visual link to everything that goes on. What a trip!
After that, Gwen Graham Logan stood and told us about discovering BFA the night her dad withdrew from the race. She said she was feeling very sad and discouraged that night, but when she happened to land on BFA and saw the outpouring of love and respect for her father there, she felt comforted and felt as if she'd found family. She posted her thanks that night (I remember this) and continued to read and occasionally post over the next several weeks. She was hooked. She said she's spent her whole life around politics and she's never seen anything like it. She's not met a single person around the Dean campaign for whom this seems like a job. She also told us that she printed out all of our messages of support for her father (as well as birthday messages on his birthday) and gave them to him to read, and he was deeply moved. As she told us all of these things, she began to cry, and then the rest of us began to cry, and we all had a little moment together. If this is Kool-Aid, I'll take another glass, please.
The last thing we did before I had to leave to go man my station at Storm HQ was a bit of a live blog thing. Anybody who had anything they wanted to say to the whole room just stood up and made a little speech. I took the opportunity to give my own Braveheart speech. I told everyone how I'd been looking at the canvassing tally numbers, and that we were definitely ahead, but it was very, very, very tight. I said there was nothing else going on in this campaign in the entire country that was more important now than them. It's all on them now. I said, "If you get cold, you keep walking. If you get tired, you keep walking. If you get discouraged, you keep walking. Don't rest until you've turned over every vote. Keep walking and talking. Talk about Howard Dean and why this country needs him so badly, and don't you dare give up!" This got a wild round of applause and, I hope, fired up the troops. I meant every word of it.
Then it was off to Storm HQ. What a madhouse! Since we'd had so many people arrive on Thursday and Friday, and so many arriving this morning, we had a mind-blowing number of people come through Check-Out to head out and canvass in just the first hour. We completely ran out of literature to hand out, and then the Great Literature Hunt began. Several staffers were dispatched to every corner of every room in both buildings to hunt down every dusty box of every piece of literature Iowans for Dean has ever handed out. At one point, the person helping me at Check-Out just grabbed a copy of a simple white double-sided flyer and photocopied a few hundred copies of that. Someone else brought us, fresh and warm from the color printer, several hundred single page handouts that, for all I know, they had just whipped up right then. By the afternoon, we had the most motley collection of odd Dean literature you've ever seen. Nurses for Dean, Farmers for Dean, $100 Revolution cards... probably about 20 different kinds of brochures, glossies, cards and papers. And we had a team of people behind the table, frantically bundling them into small piles that were handed off to outgoing canvassers as soon the rubber-band snapped to. Within an hour of my arrival, we had sent out as many canvassers as we had sent out on Friday, which if you recall, was already more than we'd ever sent out by some large measure. I understand we knocked on something like 35,000 doors today. By contrast, I just saw John Edwards pep-talking his canvassers on C-Span by saying that they'd knocked on 100,000 doors so far, and he really hoped they'd knock on another 50,000 by caucuses. Given that we still had new people arriving even as I left HQ tonight, I'm pretty sure we'll knock on 50,000 tomorrow alone. We have an army out there in those orange hats.
Speaking of orange hats, they've become quite the hot commodity. Everyone wants one. Media critters ask for them all the time. Campaign staffers that aren't Storm-related are desperate for them. They are apparently the political souvineer to have right now.
So imagine that as context for the following possibly-true-possibly-not anecdote: Tim Russert came through today. Allegedly, after he'd been there for awhile and had his picture taken with people and chatted up the media contact and whatnot, he asked a volunteer if he could see the volunteer's Storm hat. Apparently (allegedly), when the volunteer turned to look elsewhere, Russert stuffed the hat in his coat and walked out the door. The volunteer (allegedly), exhibiting big brass ones, ran out the door and chased Russert down, demanding his hat back. This story, naturally, traveled like wildfire throughout Storm HQ immediately. "Get the f--- out of here! Are you serious?" was a common refrain, as well as, "That is the greatest/funniest thing I have ever heard in my life!" Later that afternoon, a second story went around that largely consisted of, "The first story didn't really happen that way," but nobody can seem to determine what the second story allegedly is, and nobody can seem to find the original victim because nobody knows anybody's name around here. Rest assured, we're looking for him, though. We really, really want to know, and we'd be lying if we said we weren't hoping to verify the first version of the story.
Oh, and Brokaw came through, too, wanting to find a canvassing group to go out with, but couldn't be bothered to wait for any to be trained and/or located in the field, so he left quickly. I don't know if he ever did hook up with a group.
We did have another celebrity canvasser or two, though. Joe Trippi, not content with terrorizing the canvassers with demands for status updates, decided to don the orange hat and go canvassing himself. Annatopia (who accompanied him) has at least one pic up on her blog. Apparently he's pretty persuasive, too. Can you imagine Trippi showing up at your door? Would you say no?
Our other celebrity canvasser was Zephyr Teachout, BFA gal extraordinaire. She came through training late in the afternoon, and then went out for a couple of hours of canvassing. It's really incredible to see these campaign VIPs hitting the pavement just like the rest of us. And, actually, a lot of the non-Storm staffers from the main HQ came over and canvassed, too. It's just another reminder that the Storm is really what this campaign is all about right now. Everything else in Iowa, with the possible exception of Dean himself, might as well not exist right at this moment. Storm is it.
Well, except for the riots, of course.
Another wildfire story this afternoon was the Drake University "riot." Janeane Garafolo and Joan Jett were appearing for a Dean event at Drake University, and apparently a group of College Republicans thought it would be great fun to crash it and start a physical confrontation. Daily Kossack and Dean guy Travis Bushman was there and has a good (and surreal) write-up of the event. My favorite part, though, was when Joan Jett (apparently in consultation with a veteran) decided that the quickest way to squelch the Republicans' antics was to start singing the National Anthem. I'm told it worked like a charm. Several news crews were there, so I have to think it'll show up on TV at some point, but our own in-house video guy was definitely there. Several times this evening, I saw gaggles of people crowded around his editing station watching the footage in shock. About midway through the evening, Garafolo and Jett stopped by Storm HQ to talk to us about it. They each stood on a chair in the middle of a sea of Stormers and reiterated how important this election was and how threatened the right wing must be. Garafolo said this is what happens when dinosaurs die. Their tails thrash violently for awhile before they finally expire.
Quick exclusive note: There was some scuttlebut that people (I don't know who) were beginning to try to blame the Dean campaign for what happened and to deny that the interlopers were real Republicans. In an amazing bit of fortune, one of our longer-term volunteers (who, by the way, is a dead ringer for Sean Astin, and hates it when you tell him that) recognized one of the thugs on the tape as someone he knows, and he can verify that he is, indeed, a member of College Republicans. Busted.
Oh, and speaking of busted... hold your nose and check out this Fox News story. Kerry's camp got busted push-polling. They called a Dean Volunteer Coordinator's house while she was being interviewed for a documentary. She wrote down everything as she was listening to the call, and the documentary filmmaker caught the entirety of her end of the call on tape. Kerry's camp was forced to apologize and remove the person who'd made the call from the campaign, but apparently several other people have come forward to say they'd gotten the same script. Oops! Think this has anything to do with Kerry's numbers jumping?
And speaking of numbers... we're definitely getting a different picture than Zogby (though the Kerry and Edwards surges are real), and I spoke with a woman yesterday who has friends at the Iowa state legislature, and she says she was told the polls they're conducting outside the media glare are showing the same thing the Dean internals are showing. That is to say, Dean is leading, followed by Kerry and Edwards, with Gephardt bringing up the rear in fourth. But, as usual, all poll disclaimers apply, including the one's that remind us all that caucuses are particularly hard to poll. I'm still sticking by my prediction, though I'm less certain of it: Dean, Edwards, Kerry, Gephardt.
Tomorrow: We break out the special lit. We have door hangers with caucus locations printed on them, specific for each precinct. If we hit over 50,000 doors tomorrow, that's at least 50,000 people who will know where their caucus location is, and let me tell you, that's no small thing. For whatever reason, the people running the damn thing can't get their act together well enough to pick a place and stay with it, and often the place that ends up hosting it makes no sense. Most people, even if they know where their polling place is, do not know where their caucus location is. It's a massive clusterf---.
Monday: We organize everyone with a car to handle both volunteer airport runs as well as the GOTC (Get Out The Caucus) rides for those voters who need them. Also, a big rockin' party at some ballroom somewhere. I should try to find out if they have a wireless network I can use there. I'd love to post pics live. That is, if I'm sober enough to work a camera. I sure hope not.