Monday, January 19, 2004

Eric B is President ...

And my name is Rakim.

Tonight, the Iowa Caucus happened. I guess that really is the best way to put it - it just happened, and the results were somewhat surprising, with a huge showing by John "Woody" Kerry and John "Second-Coming-of-Clinton" Edwards, and a moderate showing by Howard "Gore and Bradley Endorsed Me" Dean. General Wesley "the Bee" Clark didn't run in Iowa, but is putting his power behind the first primary in New Hampshire - which will be his big litmus test.

Living in Arizona, I get to vote pretty early in a primary, and had already made a choice of three candidates. I had called all three candidates, and learned something in the process.

You are only as good as your volunteers.

This is an important message - which is also a good one for public relations firms, like POP! Public Relations - you are only as good as your employees and interns.

One more time - you are only as good as your volunteers (or employees, interns, administrative staff).

This really hit home when I called the three candidates' offices for the 30-second elevator pitch and a few questions.

The first office I called was Edwards - the man made a great jump in Iowa - and his staff member was well-spoken, and knew what Edwards stances were on different positions. And, when he did not know the answer to a question, he put me on hold and got back to me immediately, reading from the position paper. THAT'S a good volunteer.

When I called the Howard Dean office, the response to the elevator pitch was that Bill Bradley and Al Gore had endorsed the candidate. The volunteer - who sounded like the prototypical Gen Y Dean supporter - did not understand that that was no real answer, and he was proud of it. When asked for different positions that Dean supported, he could not give me any answers and did not think to look for the position papers ... that tend to be next to the phone.

Oh, and VERY cocky of Howard Dean winning the presidential race - forget the Democratic nomination, but they were soooo cocksure that they were going to win.

The third was Wesley Clark - very well-run office of volunteers, that grabbed the spokesperson when they were not sure of the answer. You could tell that the operation was being run like a military operation - everyone was in his place, they deferred to higher ranking officials, and very crisp and clean.

Tonight, after the Iowa results came out, I was speaking with Ben Silverman, a reporter and pundit. Ben had a great point, that fits into the volunteer aspect of the Dean campaign that didn't sit well with me. His comment was that "Dean has built a power base among young, white liberals who feel "empowered" by technology... they're educated and dislike the system, and not exactly big fans of capitalism... you don't win elections with that powerbase... he's going to get his ass kicked in the South, Midwest and Rust Belt. he has no clue how to reach voters who actually work for a living."

Sorta glad that I called 6 months ago that Edwards would get the nomination, after I read the profile of him in the New Yorker. And, glad I made a $50 bet that Dean wouldn't get the nomination.

Tonight's music is from the inestimable Eric B and Rakim ... because Eric B is President.
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