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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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Sunday, August 31, 2003


Profile in The Stranger, a Seattle weekly

posted by G at Sunday, August 31, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
There's not a lot of magic on Howard Dean's plane. For the crowds at the rallies, it's all excitement and energy and red meat. For those of us on the plane--reporters and campaign staffers alike--it's all cramped airline seats, bag lunches, warm sodas, and uncomfortable bus rides to the rallies. When we do make it to a hotel, we only score about three or four hours of sleep before we board Dean's chartered 1960s-era 737, dubbed the "Grassroots Express." It is a grueling pace. On the plane, Dean admits the schedule is tiring. He's able to draw energy from his growing throngs of energized supporters. Unfortunately, I'm not.

Still, there is some fun to be had on the Grassroots Express. As the already bedraggled press corps is being checked through security on the tarmac of Portland International Airport on Saturday after- noon, twenty four hours and four cities into into the tour, Dean stands off to the side mimicking his most distinctive stump-speech gestures for one of the photographers who now chronicle his every public move. He raises his arms from his side into a two-thumbs-up pose while mouthing, "You have the power," the signature slogan he shouts repeatedly to close many of his campaign appearances. The rest of the press waiting to board the chartered 737 watches the spectacle and titters. Then Dean stops, chuckling at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.
The Grassroots Express carries a rotating cast of roughly 30 members of the media at any given time. There are reporters from major newspapers, Eleanor Clift from Newsweek, and a guy from Time, a slew of television people, and a woman making a documentary for HBO about the presidential candidates. A guy from Rolling Stone hops on board part way through the tour, as does one from the New Yorker. There are three alt-weekly guys, including myself, on the trip.
"Seeing all those people out there [in Seattle]," Dean said. "The enormity of it all really struck me. For the first time I realized what it really means to be President of the United States--seeing all those people out there, counting on you."


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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.