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Sweet column: Will Obama's Chicago textbook politics backfire in Iowa? Yepsen, Iowa top columnist wonders. UPDATE

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WASHINGTON--A Barack Obama campaign plan to encourage Iowa college students who are not from Iowa to caucus for him Jan. 3--especially those from neighboring Illinois--was spanked Saturday by Iowa's leading political columnist. (UPDATE--Response from Obama campaign below)

While a scheme to make local someone from out-of-state (or from another district or ward) is business as usual in Chicago--textbook Illinois and Chicago politics---someone raised without a Chicago political sensibility may find this tactic offensive. It backfired into a negative column from Iowa's influential David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register.

In a column headlined "The Illinois Caucus," Yepsen writes, "No presidential campaign in memory has ever made such a large, open attempt to encourage students from out of state, many of whom pay out-of-state tuition, to participate in the caucuses. No other campaign appears to be doing it in this campaign cycle."

The Chris Dodd Iowa campaign sent out a release with the headline "New Politics shouldn't be about scheming to evade spirit of caucuses" and the Clinton Iowa campaign was also circulating the Yepsen column.

The national campaign headquarters of the Illinois senator is in Chicago.

UPDATE...RESPONSE FROM THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN...

"Rather than denigrating the caucus rights of students who go to school in Iowa, we would suggest the Clinton campaign organize them. Their attack here is borne out of pure political frustration. Iowans are determined to launch a winning candidate for the Democratic Party to bring real change for our country. They will not be deterred by efforts to dampen participation and 11th-hour attacks," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

As a reminder, the Clinton campaign was the only campaign to aggressively recruit non-Iowans to the JJ as the below information evidences. And as reported earlier this year, the Clinton campaign was trying to organize students in a way we think is perfectly acceptable but obviously hypocritical considering her attack today.

Illinois student organizing for Hillary in Iowa: But her student volunteers are working on contingency plans. Nikki Dziuban, a 19-year-old sophomore from the Chicago suburbs, is co-president of Students for Hillary at the University of Iowa. She says the original caucus date of Jan. 14 would boost student turnout because out-of-state students like her would be “more inclined to come back if it’s just a couple days earlier than if it’s right in the middle of break.” (Spring semester there begins Jan. 22.) http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=CD24A2C2-3048-5C12-00957B40A6837A9E

Clinton Campaign Recruits from Out of State for Iowa Jefferson Jackson Dinner: Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which is either ahead or tied in the polls in Iowa (depending on whom you ask), has begun recruiting supporters from other Midwestern states to help build up their crowd. In an email obtained last night, Clinton’s Political Director for the Midwest, Sean Johnson, asks out-of-staters to come to Iowa for a “day of action ; ,” which will include a canvass during the day and — perhaps more importantly — a chance to waive signs and look good on camera at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner. http://cmondisplay.com/2007/11/03/clinton-campaign-recruits-from-out-of-state-for-iowa-jefferson-jackson-dinner

Full email:
Please sign-up to volunteer for the Iowa Day of Action, when volunteers from all over Iowa and border states in the Midwest will join to go canvassing, to rally for Hillary and attend the Iowa Jefferson Jackson Dinner event.

If you can join, please signup at:
www.hillaryclinton.com/iowadayofaction ;

What: Hillary Clinton Campaign - Iowa Day of Action

When: Saturday, November 10
Goal is to arrive by noon on Saturday.
Out of town travelers staying through the JJ event will likely want to stay overnight. Information about hotels with availability and room blocks for volunteers will be shared to anyone requesting such information.

Where: Indianola Field Office
602 ½ N. Jefferson Street
Indianola, IA 50125
Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Directions

Activities: Everyone who is able to attend will be trained to assist with canvassing or phone banking in the area.
Volunteers will be invited to a RALLY with Hillary in advance of the dinner.
Volunteers will be able to attend the Iowa Democratic Party’s JJ event.

Notes: Carpool with friends and reserve rooms as soon as you can. Volunteers will be on their own to cover travel expenses and hotel accommodations.

Bring a Friend: Share the attached flyer with your friends and networks of Hillary Supporters. Make sure everyone signs up at www.hillaryclinton.com/iowadayofaction ; .

If you have questions about the weekend, please email:
iowadayofaction@hillaryclinton.com ;

I hope you can make it!

Thanks,
Sean

############################################
Sean P. Johnson

Midwest Region Political Director
Hillary Clinton for President


The Yepsen column...
The Illinois Caucus
Posted 11/30/2007 2:24 PM CST on Des Moines Register

Barack Obama’s campaign is telling Iowa college students they can caucus for him even if they aren’t from Iowa.

His campaign offers that advice in a brochure being distributed on college campuses in the state. A spokesman said it’s legal and that 50,000 of the fliers are being distributed.

The brochure says: "If you are not from Iowa, you can come back for the Iowa caucus and caucus in your college neighborhood.”

Given that lots of students in Iowa’s colleges and universities are from Obama’s neighboring home state of Illinois, the effort could net him thousands of additional votes on caucus night.

It’s not the first time Obama has profited from the fact he’s from an adjacent state. Illinois residents routinely show up at the candidate’s events in eastern Iowa. (The first question Obama took at an Iowa town meeting was from a guy from Naperville.)

Also, campaign volunteers come from Illinois to campaign for him. And opposing campaigns accused Obama’s campaign of busing people into Iowa from Illinois to attend the recent Jefferson Jackson Dinner, a charge Obama’s campaign has denied.

The flyer urges Iowa college students to caucus in their hometowns on Jan. 3, when many of them will be on holiday break.

While it’s legal for college students to register to vote in Iowa to do that, this raises the question of whether it’s fair, or politically smart. No presidential campaign in memory has ever made such a large, open attempt to encourage students from out of state, many of whom pay out-of-state tuition, to participate in the caucuses. No other campaign appears to be doing it in this campaign cycle.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama’s campaign, said “we have no intention of doing something here that is in any way illegal or that will raise questions about the credibility of the caucuses.” He said election laws allow students to register and vote where they go to college and that means they can caucus in those precincts as well.

That’s fine but these are the Iowa caucuses. Asking people who are “not from Iowa” to participate in them changes the nature of the event.

And trying to pack the caucuses with people from Illinois might taint Obama’s showing. Polls show Obama is in a close race with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Recent surveys show him with a lead of a few points. If he wins the Iowa caucuses with Illinois votes, his victory would be discounted by his opponents and media people.

The issue of out-of-state residents caucusing in Iowa came up recently when one of the candidates, Chris Dodd, urged his rivals to promise not to encourage their staffers working in Iowa to register as voters so they could participate in the caucuses here. Most of them agreed, including Obama’s campaign. (And, frankly, a few hundred staffers wouldn’t have much of an impact on the outcome anyway. Besides, most of those staffers will be working on caucus night and wouldn’t have time to participate.)

But turning out-of-state college students into Iowa voters is a different, larger, matter. Thousands of votes are involved and it risks offending long-time Iowa residents.

But, then, they do politics a little differently in Illinois than they do in Iowa.


============================================================
from the DODD campaign.....
DODD CAMPAIGN TO OBAMA: 'NEW POLITICS' SHOULDN'T BE ABOUT SCHEMING TO EVADE SPIRIT OF CAUCUSES
For Immediate Release
DECEMBER 1, 2007
DES MOINES - Chris Dodd for President Iowa State Director Julie Andreeff Jensen today released the following statement in response to Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen's piece about the Obama campaign's new strategy:

"I was deeply disappointed to read today about the Obama campaign's attempt to recruit thousands of out-of-state residents to come to Iowa for the caucuses. Given that the Obama campaign once said they 'absolutely condemn any attempt to fraudulently influence the caucuses,' we had hoped they'd follow the Dodd campaign's lead in working to protect the integrity and spirit of the caucus process.

"'New Politics' shouldn't be about scheming to evade either the spirit or the letter of the rules that guide the process. That may be the way politics is played in Chicago, but not in Iowa."


4 Comments

The army of mercenaries smell of defeat and is easily buried in un-marked land.

Lynn:

Do you do any research of your own? Did you know that Iowa ENCOURAGES out of state college students to caucus? http://www.sos.state.ia.us/elections/voterreg/CollegeStudentsVote.html#NRinIowa

And did you know they did so in 2004? And 2000? And...you get the point.

Doesn't sound like Chicago-Textbook politics anymore, does it? No...sounds like IOWA politics.

So why don't you do some reporting of your own and smack down Yepsen's BS column.

Hey, Lynne, you should read the comments section of Yepsen's post. Not to good for those who want to make an issue of this. Also, what's with the 'the textbook campaign' in your headline, anyway? Texbook is what others are doing, i.e. playing it close to to the vest in order to not give the Republcan's any amunition.

Obama's campaign is pretty audacious but not stupid. It seems as if the need to bring college students back to their Iowa campuses is not a function of corrupt politics but it is because the caucus date was moved up to Jan 3rd. If the caucus was scheduled around the same time as 2004, then the out-of-state Iowa students would be IN Iowa, caucasing on-campus just as students in primary states across the US will do during their primaries. It's allowed by the US elections code.

Clinton can't have it both ways: Either Obama is naive and too 'inexperienced' or he's playing fast with the rules. Obama is neither. This is a simple 'get-out-the-vote' maneuver and it sounds like smart, grassroots politics to me. You can bet that come general election time, Obama's experience in getting his base to the polls will be invaluable.

We focus on the cost of tuition but access to Cheap College Textbooks is starting to become as material challenge to us all. Furthering your education is a rewarding endeavor, both financially and spiritually. Unfortunately, there is financial help for many college costs such as tuition and living quarters but no help for College Textbooks.
I have resorted to buying older edition cheap textbooks when available and also have been purchasing International Edition textbooks that are much cheaper on sites such as http://www.WholesaleCollegeTextbooks.com. International textbooks are legal in the US but the professors frown on them. I wish the government would regulate the prices and profit on textbooks and make them more accessible to students.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 1, 2007 2:50 PM.

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