There's a big bucks fundraiser being held in Missouri tonight and one of the event chairs -- translation: must raise $50,000 -- the "Donald Trump of St. Louis," Mike Roberts, gave an exclusive interview to OffTheBus, explaining just why Missouri is one of the top battle states in November and predicting a "landslide win for Obama" there.
"We're going to be one of the top four-to-six battlegrounds and at the end of the day, we're going to go blue and take back a state that has historically been Democratic -- and that includes sweeping a new Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, into office. This race isn't just about taking over the White House; it's a change election all the way around, including changing the electoral map of the country," said Roberts.
Now that Barack Obama has assumed the de-facto leadership of his party, his people are busy renting apartments in the nation's capital and designing their power-point presentations on just how they plan to bring about a Democratic Revolution.
The Obama team has quite literally taken over the keys to the National Democratic Committee headquarters in Washington, where Obama dispatched a handful of his top former campaign managers last week and charged them with coordinating national party efforts with those of his campaign, including work on fundraising, GOTV, opposition research, campaign messaging and media coverage.
With this initial phase of staff reordering completed -- more staffers are still being recruited from other presidential campaigns and are now merging into one seething cauldron of Blackberry-bonded super-charged, super-smarties responsible for making political history -- the Obama 50-state general campaign strategy is underway.
Central to Obama's strategy is targeting several swing states, including North Carolina and Missouri, where the Democratic presumptive is campaigning today. Hard-core Democrat Mike Roberts is in the thick of it. A lawyer and real estate mogul, Roberts is also an experienced pol.
As state campaign manager for Jimmy Carter, he delivered Missouri to help Carter win in 1976, and he's devoting time, money, and even a child to the cause. His son, another Obama supporter, Mike Roberts, Jr., is challenging Rachel Storch, a former Hillary supporter, for her state legislative seat in a district that went 79 percent for Obama in the Missouri primary, which Obama narrowly won.
"This is a historic year for the Democrats here and around the country and Obama with the help of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) isn't going to just squeak by. He'll kill McCain in Missouri," said Roberts.
Roberts may be onto something.
Rasmussen Poll results issued last Thursday found Obama leading John McCain 45-43, basically tied. But the more significant metric is Obama's precipitous 16-point rise since Rasmussen's late March poll during the "[Reverend] Wright freak-out" when McCain led Obama 53-38.
The Obama fundraiser tonight is putting the Republicans on notice that Missouri state Democrats are keeping the 'mo' going for Obama, not only by raising money to keep the deep organizational effort humming along -- that began months ago while the Republican nominee was napping -- but pulling together the enormous jingle-jangle for party coffers by throwing a swank VIP reception -- $2300 per person; general reception tickets $500 per -- at the Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis.
"We haven't announced the fundraising goal yet," said Roberts, but he's confident it will be a sell-out.
Knowing how hard-fought the Missouri primary battle was between Clinton and Obama and the bruised feelings that remain, I asked Roberts if Hillary supporters would gather under the blue tent for an Obama ticket.
"Most of them will turn out for Obama, absolutely. I've just heard from one of Hillary's state vice-chairs, Steven Stogel, one of our city fathers and long involved in Dem politics. He's one of those heavy hitters, and he's attending the event tonight that's aimed at pulling together the insiders and larger contributors," said Roberts.
Roberts said that the economy is the most important issue to his state's voters, echoing Obama's week-long economic message that started earlier today in North Carolina, another possible blue state.
Roberts smelled victory, citing how both the Clinton and Obama campaigns had developed sophisticated grassroots organizations that have left left the Republicans with a lot of ground work to make-up, especially given that Independents and Republicans, like Democrats, are worried over the economy and angry over the continued Iraq War.
"It's extremely exciting here, but the great thing is that we're not here to win one race. We're here to change the Democratic Party with a high degree of permanence -- not with just one win, but a victory for the future and that speaks back to the whole discussion of change, which is Obama's message," said Roberts.
With the excitement factor, money, organization, and numbers all turning in his favor, Barack Obama puts wheels down today in a Midwestern state that could turn blue, which can't be good news for McCain, who is also working hard to keep Missouri in the red column come November.