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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, May 05, 2003


SC debate trip report

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, May 05, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Phyllis Huster is one of the main organizers of the Georgia Dean Meetup group and also the creator of the Dean Techno Mix. Below is her first-hand account of the debate:


We met in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere Georgia to attend the very first 2004 Election Democratic Debate. There were a hearty 13 of us, core GA Dean supporters carrying everything from handmade signs to red/white & blue scarves attached to signs to handmade buttons. Tim in a very funny opening line asked "Phyllis do you have a bumper sticker" in all his hard work, Tim had selflessly given away all of his bumper stickers. So we proudly proceeded down I-20 toward Columbia in hopes of finding the turning point of a historical beginning of Dean's rise to grassroots success..... we could not have imagined the success waiting for us on the other end of that road.

Howard Dean one of 9 other candidates vying for the vaulted office of President of the United States. Black storm clouds formed just as we were leaving and we managed to miss the rain most of the trip into Columbia. The campus was lovely with old oak trees shading old southern plantation homes turned fraternities and an occasional pine tree. The Debate security and TV crews lined the streets as we looked for our meeting place to prepare for the cameras with our best Dean screams and Clay's occasional (or perhaps frequent) left field comment that always elicited laughter (Such as Freebird or "how ya doin" in his best Soprano character voice). My favorite Clay impression was his remake of my one hit wonder the DeanMix90. Using only his voice, he added a sort of hiphop beat and a few "WWWwhat I want to knows, I'm Howard Dean" in there.. it was hysterical.. I have the video for those who want to see it.... someone would later ask Dean 'have you heard the DeanMix song?' 'he said, yeah', and when someone pointed to me as having created it, he said, 'gosh, I thought it would be someone with dreadlocks!" it was too cool! I'm ordering my home dreadlocks kit tomorrow! anything for the Dean campaign!! : ) hee hee....

We then went to a restaurant for chicken fingers and fries... a typical college hangout the students completely apathetic and the waitress saying "Dean who?" Earlier in the trip, stopping at a highway roadside quickmart, Lori cornered the cashier and asked 'are you registered to vote?"She proudly said 'no I don't vote.' Then Lori asked if she ever worked overtime... the woman said, 'yes.' Then after hearing a law just passed congress (Another brilliant Bush labor law) that says companies can forego paying overtime for salaried employees.... this literally shocked the person but no matter how much scaring her, we could not convince her to register to vote.. this campaign will be about enlightening a frightened masses to register moreso than convincing folks over to Dean is my theory!

We hooked up with folks from NC and 2 folks from DC and with that little trickle felt like we are growing more and more and more everyday!... so exciting to see other Dean supporters traveling from further away than we had come...

I've had a good day to digest what really happened yesterday and though I was not particularly impressed with Stephanopolous pitting Kerry against Dean right out the gate or ABC's serious lack of a. coverage b. quality, I am in hindsight getting very very very excited about the results. Here's my quick anecdotal rundown of what it did...

1. LEGITIMIZED Dean's serious possibility to not only run against but win a nomination 2. Showed how friggin uptight and scared of Dean ALL of the other candidates are.... there was a question session where each candidate could ask a question of another candidate. Guess what???? For almost an hour, no one asked Dean a question... this one fact, this one fact alone was my clue..... the other guys are scared 's?#%#%$ less' of Howard Dean. They know he thinks well on his feet, that he's informed that he doesn't need a teleprompter to answer tough questions and he will belittle their poor flipflop policy stances in a new York minute... bottom line, this was what made me grow a new excitement for his campaign. 3. Actual Supporter Count: Dean wins popular actual 'voters' by a percentage of 90%!!!!!!!
100 DEAN
1 LIEBERMANN (A very lonely and sad guy who by the way, came over and shook Dean's Hand,
on some level even the Liebermann candidate knows Dean will win)
0 Carol Mosely Braun
0 Al Shaprton

The candidates all did walk by our group outside, by 5 minutes before the debate there were easily 100 people on the Dean side with posters, handmade signs, prescription bottles with change, even the occasional descriptive sign of "Marry Me" by two men who clearly spoke to Dean's most laudable civil unions track record. Bottom line, the popular vote is already dead clear. Dean is winning by a landslide! Did the camera crews show any of this volume of supporters this early in the campaign???? NO NO NO. That's what wrong with the press, they really don't capture the real story...... those people who gave up their saturday including our courageous crew, really they are the ones that make Dean's grassroots popularity a campaign story that will eventually capture the media attention the more we do it!!! so let's keep it up!! Now tell me how all 8 other candidates felt to see the SEA of Dean BLUE and not a single person rallying on their side???.. it had to send a chill to those guys- showing who is really winning in the streets.. who's winning the grassroots, hearts and minds of america. Just do the math... 100 people traveling from east jesus for a 2 year out debate will convert 500 people each to be Dean volunteers who will convert 10,000 people each to vote for Dean... That's 50 million Dean Voters folks.... it's really that easy!

On CNN today, they spoke only of Kerry and Dean almost predominantly, again legitimizing that Dean is not only a contender, he's reached top 2 status. They always quote their false polls showing otherwise but the chatter was about Dean and Kerry mostly. The little fight that obviously pitted Dean wondering (roughly remembered) "I wonder about Kerry's courage when he has to speak thru his campaign spokesman rather than speak directly to me about issues." and Kerry's "I don't have to entertain Govenor Dean's challenge of my courage." Wow. Thank god this happened. Because it's what got the sensationalist 'who cares about the real issues' media's attention. CNN spoke mostly about the riff between the two tacitly agreeing the race in NH is really about Dean and Kerry. In fact, they spent time on Dean saying 'who is this guy, this no one from Vermont all of sudden getting all the media attention'. one other journalist says Dean admits he considers himself the media candidate and that one other president (John McCain) told folks jokingly his base was the media. So bottom line even bad press is good press regarding name recognition. CNN did however dismiss Howard for their poorly translated view of his anti-war stance. Are qualified 20 year veteran journalists too simplistic to understand his tough willingness to use the military versus Dean's disagreement with the unilateral nature of Iraq? In fact, last night I was firmly convinced Dean was more war mongering if he perceived real terrorist threats to the US and that he'd use much more unconventional means to avert / prevent / use diplomacy etc. to prevent it ever getting that far....

Anyway, by the end of the debate, I felt Dean let George S. get him off his game. He asked a very strategic question to Graham however, that showed both Dean's strength and Graham's support of Dean's voting record and how the other senators are rubber stamping Bushisms.... for anyone with 1/2 a braincell this was the end all question of the debate and his asking Graham effectively pitting Dean and Graham (graham a weak never gonna win candidate) against the others as looking like Bush lite, was easily the slam dunk of the whole debate.. I'll try to trace my audio of the debate and get the exact question.

But one more thing made this a day to remember. We all sat quietly and patiently watching the debate as the hours ran into 12:30am..... then there he was... as casual as if he had asked us over to a dinner party. Dean stood on a chair with no shoes (only in his socks, ) gave ample praise to his South Carolina political support groups, praised the SC Student organizer who setup a chat room and easily answered anyone/everyone's question. He even posed with the GAFor HowardDean group and this will be a photo we will send along when it gets developed. Bottom line, he's approachable, he's as direct and honest in person as on TV and we should be proud of the very tacit wins Dean scored in last night's ill setup and ill televised critical first national Democratic debate.

One short note. Carol Moseley Braun deserves serious praise. Her issues and her articulation of the Patriot Act and it's damage on American rights and her well articulated 'summarizing' of key democratic issues may well guide the other candidates and serves as a testimony to that woman's determination and courage to even be sitting next to 8 other candidates. Some of us agreed, we'd love to have Carol somewhere on a Dean cabinet should he get elected.

Overall, a great debate... for those of you that went, thanks for making it fun... for those that missed it, will provide a visual history as soon as we take the time to digitize it!!!!

GO DEAN. It's Time to Begin.... the Doctor is In!!


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.