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Giving Howard Dean His Due

“They were Apollo 11, and we were the Wright Brothers,” said Joe Trippi, the manager of Mr. Dean’s campaign. – The New York Times

I wasn’t a Deaniac. I know, you’re shocked.

I have had the pleasure of meeting him and interviewing him briefly back in
Washington, D.C. when Speaker Pelosi took the reigns of the House. Gracious.
Charming. Forthright.

But something needs to be said about Dr. Dean and his amazing 50-state strategy.
Because without it, Democrats and Barack Obama wouldn’t be where we are today.
Now, as a caveat, this isn’t my strong suit; analyzing national strategies to
win elections, that is. I’m the message gal and political strategist, foreign
affairs analyst, not the ground game guru. I could be wrong, but I don’t think

just seems so obvious

“I think we’ll be analyzing this election for years as a seminal,
transformative race,” said Mark McKinnon, a senior adviser to President
Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004. “The year campaigns leveraged
the Internet in ways never imagined. The year we went to warp speed. The year
the paradigm got turned upside down and truly became bottom up instead of
top down.”

Howard Dean’s election day message.

Deciding to gamble on moving into states where we haven’t been competitive
was seen as a risk. Many questioned Dean’s decision. Frankly, I immediately liked
the idea. In fact, when he started talking about it was the first time he turned
my head and got my attention.

See, I come from conservative leaning Missouri, though I’ve lived in many places, being a national gypsy of sorts. Even the Democrats in Missouri are conservative.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of being in the Democratic caucus.
A conservative Dem is still better than a Republican, because once you get any
type of Democrat, a better Democrat is not far behind. I know many progressives disagree,
but that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. Things move slowly in states like Missouri; one step at a time being the better guide.

So, Howard Dean’s investment in all types of states and counties and districts
across this nation seems to me to have been a launching pad for what’s unfolding for Democrats this year.

When the protracted primary season manifested, with Hillary Clinton putting Barack Obama through
his paces in all the primary states where he built his organization even stronger, the mold was set for the fall.

It’s one of those elections where each moment, each part of the campaign built
on something that came before. In the end it evolved into a behemoth advantage
for our side.

But it all started with Howard Dean. At least that’s my take. …and like I said, I’ve never
been a Deaniac. But give credit where it’s due. He quietly built a national
infrastructure on which Obama built his machine, helped by Hillary Clinton who
made him work it in order to beat her, then move forward to the general election to hand the Republicans the biggest challenge they’ve had in a very long time.

Meanwhile, McCain dilly dallied, giving Democrats a further advantage.

With the 50-state map that Dean built, Obama and his people ran with it expanding into the most impressive, far reaching,
improbably potent campaign apparatus we’ve seen in several election cycles on the Democratic side.
The proof will be born out tomorrow. At least that’s how it looks to me.

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