OffTheBus, a citizen-produced news site through the Huffington Post, organized its members to report back on the DNC and Obama Platform Meetings. This post reports back on some of our findings.
August 7 Modification – See below
Despite an assurance made by the DNC and Obama campaign to widely dispatch campaign surrogates to their Platform Meetings, few campaign representatives appear to have shown up to the hundreds of events held nationwide. “The Obama campaign and the DNC will send policy experts and DNC Platform Committee members to as many meetings as possible to serve as facilitators,” according to a press release hosted on the DNC website. But surrogates attended only five of the 120 events observed by OffTheBus Special Ops members.
Only one of the surrogates observed by OffTheBus was a “heavyweight” representative — a surrogate of national stature. Michael Yaki, the DNC National Platform Director, popped into one meeting in San Francisco on July 19 and another in San Rafael California about a week later. Thirty five miles away at the Napa City-County Library Dan Martin, identified as a policy representative on energy and environment, showed up. On the east coast, Dr. Adrianne Massey – identified as a representative of the Obama campaign – attended a Goldsboro, NC Platform Meeting hosted by Lisa Phelps, a DNC Platform Committee representative for North Carolina. At an Atlanta, GA event, there was “Dorothy,” a member of Obama’s tax committee. In Buffalo, NY an unidentified “delegate on the DNC Platform Committee” was reported as attending as well.
Paid campaign staffers also largely steered clear of the Platform Meetings, with confirmed appearances at only five events. In Seattle, WA an “Obama campaign manager” showed up briefly, but didn’t announce himself or participate. An Obama precinct leader and campaign team captain attended the Boulder Creek California Platform Meeting a week after organizing his own in Felton California. Obama team captains and field organizers also attended events in Manhattan Beach and Los Angeles, CA.
Delegates announced themselves at only eight meetings.
It is very possible that many surrogates did not announce themselves or play an active role in the meetings, in which case they are unaccounted for in this analysis. It is also possible that the Obama campaign surrogates visited events we did not observe. Still, our preliminary findings suggest the meetings may not have been given as much internal weight and support as advance publicity suggested.
Modification, August 7, 2008: Special Ops member Edward Rotchford hosted a platform meeting in Algonquin, IL. He has pointed out that the Obama campaign provided “policy moderators” for some platform meetings upon the organizer’s request. Rotchford, and presumably each other organizer, was given the opportunity to bid for a policy moderator using a separate form received after registering the event on Obama’s website. Accompanying the application was a promise that the campaign would accommodate as many requests as possible. Rotchford was not offered a moderator by the campaign until more than 25 people had RSVP’d for his event. In all likelihood Dan Martin, Adrianne Massey, and Dorothy – referenced in the original post above – were policy moderators. One policy moderator was provided for Rotchford’s event. Another was reported present at a platform meeting in DuPage County, IL.