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Obama Campaign Manager Focuses on Grass Roots

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By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

David Plouffe became famous for managing Barack Obama's White House campaign with precision. But during an interview on Saturday at The Washington Post, he had a little more trouble managing his 4-year old son's artwork as he talked about an Obama presidency and his new role on the eve of the inauguration. Plouffe, 41, who walks through Washington virtually unrecognized despite his accomplishments in the campaign, described the presidential race as a "two-year war." Unlike many of his compatriots on the campaign, he will not take on a formal role in the White House, choosing instead to spend more time with his family. But he revealed that he will oversee Obama's sprawling grass-roots political operation, which boasts 13 million e-mail addresses, 4 million cellphone contacts and 2 million active volunteers.

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Watch the entire interview here.

Lois Romano: What are you going to do with the vast grass-roots network you built -- to harness that power?

David Plouffe: It is going to be a challenge, because it is much different than a political campaign. . . . For those people that want to get involved on issues out in their community, we want to try to figure out the best way to try and help facilitate that. Now, the great thing about people these days is they don't really wait for your lead, they'll go out there and do it on their own. We'll have to determine which legislative initiatives are going to require the full weight of the grass roots.

LR: You're writing a book, tell us about that.

DP: We had a working title called "Audacity to Win." . . . I think it was a great story. Now, if anyone's looking for the dirt and gossip that these books sometimes entail, you're not going to find it in this. I think there's a lot of lessons people can take about the use of technology . . . the discipline with which we stuck to our strategy, the discipline with which we kept a lot of our internal deliberations internal.

LR: What was the campaign's biggest mistake?

DP: Well for me personally, it was mishandling the Ohio-Texas primary back in March of '08. I think if we focused more on Texas, we might've been able to win the primary. And the price of that was that the primary went on for another three months.

LR: David, where are you going to be sitting on Inauguration Day?

DP: Somewhere, you know, around the podium. It's going to be a really special moment, it goes without saying, but something that will, for me personally, make it real. We won the presidency and he's going to be president, and it starts right now. It's going to be a very special American moment.


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