April 1st, 2009
01:57 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama backers take budget message to Capitol Hill

President Obama is in Europe, but his supporters are on Capitol Hill.

President Obama is in Europe, but his supporters are on Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A brigade of President Obama's loyal followers are blitzing Capitol Hill on Wednesday to shore up support for his budget.

More than 200 volunteers enlisted by a special project of the Democratic National Committee fanned out across the Capitol to deliver hundreds of thousands of pledges of support for the president's agenda to Republican and Democratic members of Congress.

The effort is the culmination of an organized push by the Obama administration to leverage their muscular campaign organization to back the president's budget initiatives - in this case, his plans to invest in health care, education and energy.

The roughly 642,000 pledges were gathered during a two-week push by Organizing for America, the Obama administration's political apparatus housed at the DNC. The group picked up 100,000 signatures from neighborhoods around the country during a series of canvasses, and tapped into their robust e-mail list to sign up hundreds of thousands more.

OFA director Mitch Stewart called the stacks of pledges "a down payment on this agenda of change that we all fought so hard for over the last two years."

The delivery of the signatures to members of the Senate and House, he said, will let them "know that they have support for the president's agenda in their congressional district or in their state."

Critics have questioned whether a policy-oriented grassroots canvass would generate the same kind of enthusiasm that helped drive the Obama campaign to victory last November. But Stewart, formerly one of the campaign's top organizers, said the effort "exceeded expectations."

"We want folks on Main Street talking about issues that are happening in Washington, and that's what we're going to try to facilitate," he told CNN. "For the first time, I think ever, people on Main Street on front porches were actually discussing the budget which to my knowledge has never happened before."

A Senate Republican leadership aide downplayed the success of the endeavor.

"These guys had e-mails go out to 13 million screaming fans, a week of fawning press coverage leading up to their event, the president did a web video, they had paid TV and radio ads, they had the organizing videos on how to train people how to go knock on doors," the aide said. "And more people signed up to judge the questions at White House online town hall than signed up for this."

Since it was folded into the DNC in January, political observers have wondered just how Obama plans use his massive campaign operation to carry out White House objectives. But Stewart wouldn't offer details on what OFA will do once the budget push wraps up. "Each legislative issue will dictate what we do tactically," he said.

Filed under: DNC • OFA • President Obama
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. sue

    On another topic, the repubs say that any attempt at reconciliation will ruin the chance of any broad bipartisan support for health care. Ha. As if they would ever be bipartisan abut any issue until 2012 anyway! What a bunch of sore losers whose only job right now seems to be to stop any initiative by any Democrat. I wish they could see beyond the midterms just once! The country needs real help, not the same old "cut the budget, cut taxes, spend for war," garbage that got us into this mess.

    April 1, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Michigander

    Republicans cannot stand the thought of Obama continuing to have the support of the people when they can't even get the correct speaker lined up for an event. The party is imploding before our eyes, and unless someone stands up and says "Country FIRST" and means it, they are doomed.

    April 1, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. LIP

    I find it interesting that the House is debating the issue of executive pay raises. How about the "people" debate the pay raises of the Senate and the House. How about these jokers give back their pay raises and numerous perks and receive nothing further until they get the country back where it belongs after what Barney Frank and Chris Dodd did to us to create this debacle.

    April 1, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. jeff- Texas

    I am sure it was acorn that gathered the signatures and the signatures should be tested for authenticity. I am sure they all came from low income housing and they got paid to sign this list.!!!!!

    April 1, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Jon

    Jeez.. can't wait until I'm waiting in line to see a doctor and paying $5/gallon of gas and $500/month for energy bills because of cap and trade... yeah, sounds great to me! Glad Obama is looking out for me!

    April 1, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  6. Natasha in tally

    Hey Jeff-Texas

    It it people like you who make up the dumbing down of the Republican party. Repeating lies and not actually doing anything to found out the truth. Acorn paid thier workers to collect names of real people but the workers took the money and just make up names in some cases. So actually Acorn got defrauded! I am sure you heard that on fox noise and took it as gospel. Low income workers have just as much right to participate in their government as next person. And from what I can tell some rich people have turned out to be the most dishonest of their all!!!!!!!!!!

    April 1, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. meh

    It's about time people got involved in their government!

    jeff> Doubtful. This president has a high approval rating. He doesn't NEED to pay people to support him and his budgets.

    April 1, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Billy Devaney

    Are these "obama backers" ACORN employees?

    April 1, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. BigD_95

    It's about time people got involved in their government! We support you Obama and believe in your ideas

    April 1, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. DB

    What ugly comments! I am disgusted by some of my fellow citizens. I signed the petition willingly. I have nothing to do with Acorn; I do not live in low income housing, and will not in any way benefit from the tax breaks of this administration because my salary is too high. But I totally believe in this president and the goals he has outlined for the country. Stop with the stereotypes and hate.

    April 1, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. ray ray

    How about this....

    I forgo the "Stimulus Deal" (ala $13/week) and I become exempt from the upcoming Obama "Budget" (major tax increases).

    Obama = tax & spend addict

    April 1, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. 1619Jamestown

    I'm at work. I have a question about health insurance. Who is paying for the health insurance of the Washington politicians? Why does it seem that both the democrats and the republicans want to deny health care for everyone? We have elected these people to make decision in the best interest of the people and they have fallen down on the job. Why are both sides so against a man with principles? Is it that somewhere along the way they have forgotten that they to belong to the human race? I am a registered Democrat but I am about to change to an Independent?
    Both sides of the isle are showing what appears to be covert racism. I did not see especially the republicans scrutinize everything that George Bush did? Where was all this concern for the American people when Washington insiders gave Cheney and bush Card Blanc on spending?
    Are both parties afraid that transparency by President Obama will show the American people what we already know? We all know you are in the hand of the lobbyists and regular people need to send the message of “Yes We Can” change who sits at the table in Washington.

    April 1, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. gt

    i am sure its the same backers who dont pay there taxes

    April 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. Kelby In Houston, TX

    GO OBAMA BACKERS GO! I wish you much sucess

    April 1, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Jay

    Econ 101

    You have two cows. The Government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

    You have two cows. The Government takes both and gives you some of the milk.

    You have two cows. The Government tells you when to milk them, takes the milk, then sells it back to you.

    You have two cows. The Government takes both and shoots you.

    New Deal-ism
    You have two cows. The Government buys both, shoots one, milks the other, and throws away the milk.

    Free-Market Capitalism
    You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

    April 1, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    @ LIP, who said "Barney Frank and Chris Dodd did to us to create this debacle."

    Seriously, that tired little soundbite has got to go if you want anyone to take you seriously. While nobody who's at all informed and seroius about characterizing the problem and its sources correctly will deny that the Freddie/Fannie debacle played a role, the tunnel-vision with respect to Frank and Dodd is a gross mischaracterization of how it all worked. The reality is, the bunk securities based on bundles of subprime mortgages and the credit-default swaps based on those securities are the bigger culprits. The Freddie/Fannie thing could've been handled just fine if it was left alone, but the banks and financial institutions had to play Russian Roulette with it and cause the risk and potential problems in the event of a collapse to balloon exponentially. So yeah, grow up...the partisan blather is tiresome.

    April 1, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. Lisa from AZ

    I called my rep in the house and senators to vote for the Obama Biden Budget ... I hope my senators John Kyl and John McCain can support it. Republicans have to find a way to get on board even if it is just temporary for the next year. EducationHealthcareEnergy! Also, way to go New York for putting another DEM in the house.Yes we can!

    April 1, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    @ Jay, who said "Free-Market Capitalism
    You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull."

    Cute, but inaccurate nowadays. The reality is, you would leverage your cows by borrowing against them for better farm equipment, and likely making a deal with the guy down the street to pimp your cows to his bull. Then, when your cows get pregos, he'd sue you for part ownership in the calfs and a gaggle of protesters would set up shop outside your farm warning you not to use it for veal. Eventually, the banks, quickly realizing that the fair market value of cows is inflating exponentially, would create securities based on bundling all the cow-mortgages (like yours) they have and would leverage those securities in a credit-default swap, gambling on you paying off your cow-mortgage, but secretly pretending to insure against you not doing so...all while paying the risk-rating companies to rate those securities as not so risky. Then, when there's an outbreak of hoof&mouth disease or all the cows suddenly dry up, those banks woul dcollapse and you'd be left holding a worthless heiffer but still owe the bank for your entire cow-mortgage.

    Got milk? 🙂

    April 1, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |