Campaign manager credited with much of Obama success

May 12, 2008 4:51:57 PM PDT
Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both campaigned in West Virginia Friday.Clinton is expected to win the primary there Tuesday. But Obama picked up four more super delegates Friday and now leads in the super delegate count. His backers believe Obama is headed for the nomination no matter what happens Tuesday.

David Plouffe - it rhymes with "tough" - is just that. He's a 40-year-old no-nonsense political junkie from Delaware who can't help rooting for the Phillies. But by all accounts, he's a brilliant tactician who, with a lot of help, has engineered one of, if not the best, first-time presidential campaigns in modern history, which means high-tech 24-7. And even though he is capable of cutting loose with salty language befitting a curmudgeonous captain, he is all PC when it comes to The Boss.

"It all starts with Barack Obama. We've been able to complement him with a good campaign," Plouffe said.

Plouffe is smart enough to credit the campaign's incredible success to the candidate, who in the case of Obama, has inspired a movement of sorts. But it's Plouffe not Obama who manages 700 staffers in 50 states, 1 million-plus volunteers and a fundraising machine that's raked in a record $250 million from a million-and-a-half donors with the most effective Internet fundraising and communication operation in political history. All of it explains, in part, how Obama won 32 states against Clinton, the brand name in Democratic politics and a heavy favorite when the race began.

"We were fortunate. Really talented people gravitated to the campaign," said Plouffe.

Plouffe had the right stuff to put together a winning operation in Iowa and to survive a near-panic after losing New Hampshire.

"The proof is in the pudding. They took a candidate who was challenging the established candidate and won," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, (D) Chicago.

Plouffe's team was also smart enough to save a lot of resources, money and manpower to compete in dozens of states after super-duper Tuesday February 5. And as a result, they caught the Clintons flat-footed en route to virtually wrapping up the delegate race with 11 wins in a row.

Plouffe, who labored for years under Missouri Congressman and House Majority Leader David Gephardt, before going into political consultant with Obama's idea man David Axelrod, probably has the White House chief of staff job sewn up if Obama wins the presidency, to which he says 'thanks, but no thanks.'

"I'm trying to get to the election in November and spend time with my family," said Plouffe.

Plouffe's not declaring victory in the nomination fight or telling Clinton what to do. But he is mapping out a general election strategy against John McCain, beginning Tuesday with visits to battleground states. He says there is no time to gloat over the accomplishments so far because there is still so much left to do in the next six-and-a-half months. But as Emanuel says - and he knows this stuff - the Obama campaign is one for the history or poli-sci books and Plouffe will be a prominent player,

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