Obama’s Real Expertise: Winning Elections

Friday, 02 Nov 2012 11:35 AM

By Christopher Ruddy

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Christopher Ruddy's Perspective: Barack Obama may be a failure as president, but there is one thing he has proved to be good at during his career: winning elections.
 
That hit home to me last week when remote surfing I stumbled upon a biography of Obama on Al Gore’s Current TV network, “Becoming Barack: Evolution of a Leader.”
 
The film detailed how a young Obama, as a magna cum laude graduate of the Harvard Law School and editor of the Harvard Law Review, had the world at his doorstep. He could have set his sights on a Supreme Court clerkship, or more prosaically, taken a high-paying job with any of the nation’s top law firms.
 
But, as the film notes, he turned down such glowing opportunities to move to Chicago and enter the field of community organizing, specifically to help organize inner-city voting.
 
I recently wrote how Mitt Romney sacrificed as much as $2 billion by leaving his private equity firm Bain Capital to rescue the Winter Olympics and pursue a career in public life.
 
Obama, too, has sacrificed to enter public service.
 
But it’s fascinating to consider as we head to what appears to be a close election that Barack Obama made an early sacrifice to learn about the business of voting.
 
After Harvard Law School, the young grad moved into a small apartment in Chicago and began work with Project Vote.
 
This grass-roots organization conducted a campaign to increase voter registration in the inner cities, and often coordinated its efforts with ACORN’s local chapters.
 
Obama was following in the footsteps of Saul Alinsky, a radical leftist who is considered the founder of modern community organizing.
 
When Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic National Committee convention in 2008, she said Obama quoted from Alinsky’s book “Rules for Radicals” the first time they met, referring to “the world as it is” and “the world as it should be.”
 
As a community organizer in Chicago, the city where the late Mayor Daley refined electoral manipulation to an art, Obama became well-schooled in get-out-the-vote techniques, and put them to use in his political campaigns, first in the Illinois state Senate, and then — after a failed bid for a U.S. House seat — in his successful U.S. Senate campaign.
 
But the real test of what Obama had learned in Chicago about organizing voters came in his next challenge when he battled for the Democratic presidential nomination against Hillary Clinton, whom many had already anointed as the sure nominee.
 
It is interesting to remember that in the primary campaign, Obama lost to Hillary in every big Democratic state with the exception of Illinois, but won in every caucus state, beginning with Iowa.
 
Caucus states are all about organization, and Obama excelled here once again. For sure, his experience as a community organizer bore fruit, eventually winning the nomination and the presidency.
 
As we come down to the wire this election, it is also clear that Obama has out-organized Mitt Romney in the key battleground states.
 
I have heard reports that Obama realized in 2008 after he had won that he would face a tough re-election. He decided to have his 2008 campaign remain in high gear, even keeping open offices during the past four years.
 
Today, for example, Obama has some 131 field offices open throughout Ohio, compared to Mitt Romney’s 40. Polls show Obama leading Ohio.
 
My guess is that community organizer Barack Obama has been preparing for this coming Election Day since he won in 2008, or perhaps since that day he decided to move to Chicago rather than take a job clerking at the Supreme Court.
 
After all, he wanted to be president, not a Supreme Court Justice.
 
Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.
 


 
 
 

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