Transcript of DEMOCRACY IN ACTION Interview with Jackie Norris, Iowa State Director of Obama for America
At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO, late Aug. 2008

QUESTION: Where are you in the campaign in Iowa?
We know what worked during the Iowa caucuses, and what worked is having a strong precinct by precinct organization and to that degree that's what we're replicating for the general election, because we recognize that it's not going to be the ads, it's not going to be anything but peer-to-peer, neighbor-to-neighbor contact.  So what we're replicating is a 1,700-plus precinct organization.  I feel really good about where we are.  We've got very strong infrastructure that we can rely on.  Part of this now is really just rebuilding, reenergizing, reorganizing the existing infrastructure.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the period between the caucuses and June, and when you started ramping up again.  Were you doing things even during that period?

One of the greatest strengthening experiences, I think, for the campaign was to have that period of time from February to June -- the county convention, the district convention, the state convention -- because it forced the campaign to stay connected with its delegates.  At that point, a lot of the presidential dynamics had changed.  John Edwards had made the decision to drop out, other candidates had dropped out, so that gave us time to reach out to all  of those other delegates, court them, include them, invite them, and I think that was a really good opportunity for us to really unite the party.  And then coming into June we had time to really reach out to the Clinton supporters.  So I feel really good about the fact that every Democrat has been asked to be part of the Obama campaign as we head into the Fall, which is really important.  You want a unified party.

QUESTION: So in that period from February to June did you have staff on the ground here?

We did.  It was a small staff.  We really relied on our volunteer infrastructure across the state, where we asked our county captians to call all of the delegates and remind them about the conventions, tell them why it was important to go.  So we really used our volunteer infrastructure.  We had staff to manage it, but we were relying a lot on the volunteers.

QUESTION: Did you have three or four people?

Yeah, if that.  so I think it was two to three.  And then we always had people come in a couple of days before, just to help us with the mechanics of the conventions.

QUESTION: And so when did you really start ramping up or had you kept an office throughout?

We've actually kept an office throughout

QUESTION: The main one in Des Moines or...?

No, we moved into a smaller space.  but one of the greatest things that happened after January, after our caucuses, people weren't done.  They knew in Iowa that they had selected Barack Obama in Iowa but it wasn't done.  So we kept infrastructure open for them.  In Iowa City, in Des Moines and in Cedar Falls so they could come into the office and make phone calls into other states.  So a lot of this really hasn't stopped.  but I would say our general election campaign in earnest really began in June of this year, of this summer, where we really recognized okay, where do we want to set up offices, where do we want to put up infrastructure, and now we're now at the point where we have over 30 offices and staff across the state because we fundamentally believe that the way you're going to capitalize on this organization is if you bring the campaign a little bit closer to them.

QUESTION: Was there an issue with the coordinated campaign and the IDP?

Iowa should be congratulated because as soon as all the presidential candidates left in January, they turned and started focusing on how you actually elect a president in Iowa in November.  So the traditional model that they were operating under was that it would be a coordinated camapign which traditionally you have a pot of money, everybody--the presidential campaign, everybody chips in--you have the coordinated program...

Copyright © 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action