Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gearing up for South Carolina

By Robert O'Donnell

Charleston, S.C.

I'm Robert O'Donnell from Chevy Chase, Md. Over the last three weeks I've been an intern and, more recently, part of the field staff for the Obama for America campaign.

I started my internship in Manchester, N. H., a few days after Christmas. I came to New Hampshire with the intentions of returning to school this Spring, but I admittedly got the campaign bug and decided to stay on through the Democratic primary process.

In New Hampshire, I focused on the GOTV (get out the vote) effort in the headquarters at Manchester. I called thousands of people, knocked on hundreds of doors in preparation for the primary Day on the 8th. A few days after I had arrived, Senator Obama had a huge victory in the Iowa caucus. We felt good about our chances going into the New Hampshire primary where we had battled back from a 20 point deficit in just over a month a half.

On primary day, I ran a staging location in a small town outside of Manchester called Francestown. We set up phone banks, put up signs, and urged people to Get Out the Vote. However, victory was not to be our’s; we lost by a slim margin of only two percent of the total electorate. What was more astounding was that New Hampshire broke the record for the number of voters in the Democratic primary.

Following the tough loss, much of the staff regrouped and caravanned nearly 20 hours down to South Carolina to help bolster our ranks for the January 26th primary. The South Carolina primary will be a pivotal moment in the primary and could even be a defining moment in the campaign.

We have spent the last couple days getting our bearings, and I have spent time being trained as a field organizer. I'm working out of Charleston as we move towards primary day, and the campaign’s spirits are high.

I'll have more to report on South Carolina in my next post, and I'll make sure to spice things up a bit in regards to stories about New Hampshire voters and the Southern hospitality down south, including a story about a flat tire and a toll booth debacle. Anyways, I need to get some sleep, I'll be up in five hours.
-Rob O'Donnell

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