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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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Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Trippi in trouble?

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, January 28, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
An article from Seven Days VT has some pretty astonishing gossip from inside sources in Dean's campaign:

Seven Days has learned that the disaster in Hawkeye Country last week caused a major realignment of Dean for America’s campaign hierarchy. Sources tell Seven Days that Campaign Manager Joe Trippi, the colorful Internet whiz who led the longshot Vermonter’s meteoric rise, has had his own wings plucked.

Dr. Dean, sources say, has taken control of the campaign checkbook from the Trippster and handed it to Deputy Campaign Manager Bob Rogan.

Rogan once served on Dean’s gubernatorial staff, before leaving for a management job at Vermont’s largest electric utility. He came back last year for the presidential bid. Now he and longtime Dean aide Kate O’Connor are steering the Dean campaign warship. There are clear indications that if Dean limps on after New Hampshire, Joltin’ Joe Trippi will be gone.

So, too, will Trippi’s Washington, D.C., consulting firm Trippi, McMahon & Squier. Steve McMahon has been producing Howard Dean for Governor TV commercials for a decade. The spots he did for Ho-Ho in Iowa are cited by grumbling Dean supporters as a factor in Dean’s poor showing there.

Frankly, the few ads I have seen were terrible. And I have been long incomfortable with the seeming conflict of interest in having TMS do the ads when the T was also the campaign manager. How could an objective decision get made in that scenario about the quality of the ads? This is all the more critical since we have entered the media-centric phase of the campaign.

But should Joe take the blame for the Iowa and NH losses? I don't know. Joe deserves credit for the Internet aspect of things but we all know that the campaign needs to grow beyond that - while keeping its character intact. In Iowa, the campaign did grow out into the real world, but it became something unrecognizable in the process.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the burn rate. Yes, Dean has raised more money than anyone else - but how has it been spent? On orange hats? Trippi's strategy was always to concentrate on Iowa and NH for the win and coast to victory. And I did get the feeling that fundraising was indeed being taken almost for granted (and this is the real reason why the mailing list memberships have hit a plateau.)

Campaign staff shakeups are common to all the other campaigns - most notably front-runner Kerry. I don't know enough to have an opinion on whether Joe deserves the axe for Iowa and NH. If anything, I'm biased against it out of sheer personality admiration. But winning is more important. What do you think?


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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.