Obama Tries to Rally Grassroots for Health Care Fight

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President Obama urged his supporters to "get the message out" on his health care reform principles, calling a forthcoming organizing drive "our big chance to prove that the movement that started during the campaign isn't over."


"We need you to stay in involved. The election in November. That didn't bring about change. That just gave us an opportunity for change," Obama said.

"Some of you are in states and districts where politicians are resistant to bringing about change, so we need you to get involved," he said.

"With your help, we can reduce costs for families, businesses and government," Obama said. 

Obama, speaking from Air Force One, was making a cameo on a conference call set up by the Democratic National Committee for members of Organizing for America, the post-election incarnation of Obama's presidential campaign.
The call was part of an effort to kindle a grass fire under the activist hindquarters of tens of thousands of Obama campaign volunteers who have kept mostly to themselves since Obama was inaugurated. The DNC is sensitive to criticism that Obama's grassroots army has laid down its arms since the election, pointing out that hundreds of thousands of people have participated in OFA activities.  

On June 6, Organizing for America begins a multi-platform health care reform kick-off, featuring house parties, online chats, story-sharing and telephone calls. DNC officials insist that OFA's earlier efforts have been successful tests of capacity and have built the foundation for grassroots activity that will change the voting totals in Congress. 

Organizing for America director Mitch Stewart told supporters, "We want to demonstrate wide support for our health care principles."

Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe urged on the OFA members. "You need to take ownership of this," he said.

Along with health care, energy reform and education reform are the group's stated priorities.  The call today, with its special guest, was also designed to recruit volunteers. At its beginning, a DNC official asked participants who had not been contacted by an organizer to press "one" on their telephone. 

The DNC is staffing up, adding organizing directors and staff in all 50 states.  

As Obama was transferred into the call, supporters got a brief behind-the-scenes snapshot of presidential communications. "Pardon the interruption please, this is the Air Force One operator with the president," a military comms officer said.
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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