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Drafting Al Gore: Here's The Plan

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As the list of horrors in the Middle East grows, I keep thinking: What if Al Gore was president? Wouldn't you feel better? I know I would.

My friend Mary Beth Williams agrees, but then, she would. MB is, well, crazy - crazy about the idea of drafting Al Gore, that is. And since people keep floating the idea of an Al Gore candidacy, and no one was doing anything to make it happen, she did this really crazy thing. She picked up the ball and ran with it.

How serious is she? In her own words:

I've packed up my family, including four children, ages 4 - 9, two with autism, put all my belongings into storage (at a cost of over $350/month), have worked 60 - 80 hours/week for the past three months (unpaid), have talked with at least a thousand people, attended Democratic meetings, volunteered on Congressional campaigns, and pretty much emptied out our savings account. I passed up a number of paid staff positions for this fall, and my spouse can't look for permanent work as I drag him around the country.

Yeah, you might say I'm serious.

Now, if anyone can pull this off, Mary Beth (a former Kerry-Edwards and Gore-Lieberman staffer) can. But she needs our help. Here's the statement Draft Gore 2008 released today to announce the campaign's strategic plan:

Are you really serious about drafting Gore? If so, you're going to need a plan.

Because it's going to take 2157 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August 2008 to secure the nomination and you have 138 days, from the opening of the Iowa caucuses to the closing of the polls in the California primary, to do it. You're going to have to juggle campaigns in two to three dozen states (most of them concurrent), recruiting and training thousands of volunteers and field staff. In each targeted state, you'll need to contact tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Democratic and Democratic-leaning
voters and caucus participants, and identify those who are leaning your way and those who need a little persuasion. Then, well, you need to persuade the persuadable. Then you need to make sure you get all these identified voters and caucus participants to their polling/caucus venues on caucus and primary days.

In the meantime, you have to pay for all this. So you need a detailed two-year budget and a top-notch fundraising staff. You don't have a candidate doing "call time", personally soliciting big donors, so you have to be creative: Surrogate events, house parties, small donor "asks" via mail or on-line. You're going to have to raise at least $3.5 million - a small fraction of what the other leadership PACs are pulling in, but still a huge sum for a campaign without a candidate's actual "face" on it.

You have to comply with FEC regulations, so you'll need a compliance specialist and, of course, a reliable database in which to stash all your contributor and volunteer data. You need a press office to craft and distribute your message, and a crack technology staff to develop and maintain a cutting-edge web strategy which does a lot more than keep supporters up to date. It also has to facilitate complex organizing.

And don't forget back-ups: people, machines, and data. And contracts. You'll also need a contingency plan. A continuity plan. A strategic plan. A campaign plan.

Do you have a plan? Well, we do.

For the past four months, Draft Gore 2008 PAC has putting together an unconventional, even radical plan to truly draft Al Gore, Jr. as the Democratic nominee in 2008. It lays out in detail a strategy for running a lean but professional campaign in thirty states with large Democratic populations, "blue" and "purple" states. In just the last three months, I've packed up my family, placed all our worldly goods in storage, and set out to personally survey the political landscape in those
targeted states outside my home in the Northeast. As of today, we've hit eight, including a month spent in Iowa. This weekend, we begin the trek across the Plains, to the eight targeted states in the West.

During this time, we have become involved in key Congressional, state and local races, made numerous contacts with key activists and come to appreciate what it takes to win in these communities.

What are the nuts and bolts of this ground-breaking plan? Here are the ten goals DG08PAC will accomplish:

1) Establish member committees in thirty states in which Al Gore won a majority of the votes in 2000, or in which Gov. Bush obtained less than 51.9% in the same election. With guidance from DG08 staff, these volunteer committees will be responsible for designing voter identification and contact programs for each of their states.

2) Create and maintain an online venue for Al Gore supporters to find established "meetups" or one-time events, such as house parties and surrogate events. Members will also able to create their own campaign events and invite and attract participants through this venue.

3) Establish advisory committees for core DG08PAC functions, including technology, fundraising, field, communications, volunteer coordination and web activities. New committees and subcommittees will develop as the organization grows and need arises.
Every campaign member/volunteer who achieves "trusted" status will be invited to participate in an advisory committee.

4) Hire and train field staff, specifically fifteen permanent "Tier One" field directors, five "floating" field directors, and between 20 and 30 field coordinators. This field staff will work with local grassroots organizations in the thirty states. In the Fall of 2006, fifteen field coordinators will be loaned out as staff to key Congressional campaigns in 2008 targeted states, as "in-kind contributions."

5) Hire and train on-line coordinators, who help establish and sustain the web presence of the state committees, as well as advocate for the organization and Al Gore in various online venues. These coordinators will work closely with field staff in the thirty targeted states.

6) Design and implement an extensive voter identification and contact/persuasion program in the thirty targeted states.

7) Design and implement an outreach program for traditionally undervalued groups, including Latinos, younger voters (under 45), environmental voters, etc.

8) While top tier states will have permanent field staffs, the fifteen second and third tier states will be staffed by "floating" teams; highly mobile and flexible, these small groups will utilize mobile satellite technology, for internet and telephony
access, and portable field "offices", so as to defray costs and reach larger and more remote audiences.

9) Plan and implement a detailed and effective GOVT (get out the vote) program for each tier state based upon the data obtained in the voter ID phone and door-to-door canvasses.

10) Negotiate support from delegates pledged to candidates who have ended their campaigns for the Democratic nomination.

Draft Gore 2008 PAC is in the process of putting the entire campaign plan online at DraftGore2008.org for open review by the entire "draft Gore" community, with the intent of eliciting constructive discussion, fine-tuning the details and recruiting key staff and volunteers.

While we might all be thrilled to have Al Gore enter the Democratic race tomorrow, there are many compelling reasons for him to resist that move as long as possible - most importantly, to maintain his focus on his campaign against global warming. The best thing we can do, as supporters of Gore and foes of catastrophic climate change, is to carry the load of a real, honest-to-goodness campaign for the Democratic nomination ourselves. That entails a lot of heavy lifting and sacrifice on our part.

And lots of planning.

So, do you already have a plan? If not, you should come up with one quick, because there's now only seventeen months left until the Iowa Caucuses.

Or better yet, join ours, and let's draft Al Gore together.