NORFOLK, VA.--- The Obama campaign, by requiring tickets for the election night rally in Grant Park, is using the event to collect names and contact data to be used for future voter contact, fund-raising and political or issue organizing. That will let Obama, win or lose the White House next week, build on what are already the most valuable political lists in the nation to use to help his causes and candidates.
One of the ways the Obama campaign has built its mailing lists for its relentless voter contact efforts is through requiring tickets for events, with i.d. information needed to get a ticket. One of the values of having Oprah Winfrey appear at rallies for Obama during the early Democratic primaries was harvesting voter contact information from the information people had to submit in order to get tickets. Requiring tickets--and giving a priority to volunteers and VIP treatment to donors--there is an entire high end VIP donor election night program--is another way for the Obama Machine to squeeze more out of the event.
Mayor Daley is estimating one million people may swarm to Grant Park on Nov. 4, tickets in hand or not. Top Obama strategist David Axelrod told me the million number was a "random'' pick.
BY FRAN SPIELMAN
Sun-Times City Hall Reporter
Mayor Daley predicted today that more than a million people would descend on Grant Park for Barack Obama's election night "celebration" -- but that was before the Obama campaign disclosed that only those with tickets would be allowed to attend.
The surprise announcement was made in an e-mail to Obama's Illinois supporters -- people who have made donations, worked in phone banks, traveled to battleground states to campaign for Obama or signed up to receive e-mail updates from the campaign.
Crews are working to set up for the Obama election night rally at Hutchinson Field in Grant Park.
Those interested in attending the election night rally in Grant Park can sign up online to be on the waiting list at Democrats.org.
It informs Obama supporters that the "gates" to Hutchinson Field in Grant Park would open at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 4, but only to those with tickets who show photo IDs. An attached ticket application asks for name, address, e-mail and phone number.
"An official printed ticket is required for entrance. Each official printed ticket is valid for the ticket holder and one guest," the e-mail states.
"You must sign up using the form. . . . Your official printable ticket will be e-mailed to you prior to the event. One request per person. Duplicate requests from the same name will be rejected. For security reasons, do not bring bags. Photo ID is required. Please limit personal items. No signs, banners, chairs or strollers allowed."
The decision to require tickets is designed to bolster security, but it's almost certain to reduce attendance.
Earlier today, Daley predicted that more than a million would attend the $2 million Obama extravaganza.
"Everybody's talking about it. It's gonna be surprising. There's gonna be a lot of people who will want to come down and celebrate. . . . We hope it's a million or more. It would be wonderful," Daley said.
Daley bristled when asked if people would be screened before entering Grant Park.
"We're not gonna be screening people going to the park. You'll be here for the next two weeks. You just can't do it," he said. "That is not us. No, no. We don't screen anybody in the park. No. That is up to the Secret Service."
Kristina Schmidt, a spokeswoman for the Chicago field office of the U.S. Secret Service, refused to comment on the agency's plans for the Obama rally.
She would only say, "Any event that is covered by the Secret Serviice for a [presidential] nominee is typically secured and swept prior to the arrival of the protectee. That's standard procedure."
The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that the Chicago Police Department's retired resident expert on security planning, has been brought back on contract to quarterback logistics for the Obama rally.
Neil Sullivan will be paid by the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications at a rate of $100 an hour with a $60,000 cap.
Today Daley called that money well-spent -- even as the city is laying off 929 city employees, eliminating 1,346 vacancies, slowing police hiring and raising parking and amusement taxes to erase a $465 million shortfall.
"For an event like this, you need some of the experts that you want. You don't fool around with this," he said.
Especially not one day after federal authorities broke up a plot by a pair of white supremacists identified as neo-Nazi skinheads to go on a national killing spree ultimately targeting Obama.
"Everybody should be concerned. You have to be concerned. When you get a million people, that's a lot of people. You better be concerned.