Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to check out the new McCain regional headquarters down in Farmington Hills while they hosted a special guest. Republican National Committee Chairman Robert “Mike” Duncan was in town to officially “open” the center and to spotlight some of the tools and efforts the GOP is going to be using this fall in states like Michigan. While the Michigan McCain effort was unveiling their new office space, Duncan was launching a three week, seven state “Victory 2008 Tour.” The Great Lakes State was the first stop for the top dog at the RNC. Telling. And a step toward erasing some ill-conceived notions about Republican chances this fall.
You listen to the press and you watch the nightly news and you walk away with a few impressions about the presidential race and its combatants. I mentioned before the church-wide dinner we had this past Sunday. After lunch as folks were mulling about I was speaking with my cousin Frank. Frank’s a good kid and pretty sharp. He’s also got one heck of a mean forearm shiver so if you’re playing a little backyard football and the boy shows up try to tackle him low or better, get out of the way… for your own sake… but I digress. We spoke about the presidential race and I mentioned that I was (and am) still convinced that John McCain will be the forty-fourth President of the United States.
“What?!” My cousin couldn’t understand where I was coming from (which isn’t particularly surprising knowing me). “Obama is way ahead, isn’t he? He’s ALWAYS on the news! And every person my age is voting for him. It is inevitable.” That’s certainly what the press wants him to think.
When I walked into the South East Michigan regional office, two things stood out immediately. First, there was a ton of activity going on. It is a huge office with a large open space lined with smaller offices, staff crammed two to each work space. There were people everywhere and most were either hustling from one part of the office to another or were working the phones. Second, young people EVERYWHERE. There must have been forty or fifty people in the long room and well over half looked to be in either high school or just starting their four year degrees. It was the sort of sight that would have had the average consumers of mass media scratching their collective head. `I thought all of the young people loved Barack Obama?’ Yeah, apparently not in Farmington Hills.
Best part, easily, was the phone bank of twelve or fourteen high school kids burning up the VOIP phones in the middle of the afternoon on a gorgeous summer day in Michigan. Awesome stuff. When Chairman Duncan arrived he walked past the staffers and volunteers who’d begun helping themselves to a late lunch (it was nearly 2 o’clock in the afternoon) and made his way right over to introduce himself to this group.
A few members of the media had arrived for the chance to sit down with Duncan but he walked past them too. Not sure what local TV wound up capturing and broadcasting last night / this morning but no one from the Chairman’s team did any “rounding up” of the press corp to direct them to his impromptu meet and greet with the volunteers. It was just a classy thing to do. Personally I hope the cameras were rolling.
After shaking hands and talking to them about the importance of what they’re doing in a true battleground like Michigan he moved to a conference room where reporters and photographers had a chance to shoot a little film and ask a few questions. I was invited to tag along but kept my mouth shut while the professionals went to work discussing everything from fundraising (Duncan admits Obama will outspend McCain once all of his 527s are factored in but claims the RNC and McCain teams combined have more cash than the DNC and Obama teams combined) to the use of new technology in the campaign to the RNC’s secret weapon, micro-targeting and the uber-effective 72 Hour Program.
But mostly he talked about how seriously the good guys are taking Michigan this year. We’re in play, boys and girls. Yep, Obama is a master showman and his team puts together a giant campaign rally with the flair of a rock band. At the end of the day a thousand screaming sycophantic far-left Dem base voters are only worth one vote each and that vote is hardly up for grabs. If this weeks Michigan polling is anywhere close to accurate this thing’s closer than my cousin Frank ever would have thought. And in a tight race I’ll take a couple dozen eager volunteers pounding out the phone calls to undecided voters over a revival meeting that only preaches to the choir ten times out of ten. Unless Jeremiah Wright is delivering the message from the pulpit. Then it’d be a toss up.