Democratic Campaign Director Discusses Presidential Race

This story was written by Caitlin L. Johnston, Indiana Daily Student
Students can count on Sen. Barack Obama visiting Bloomington, Lafayette, South Bend and Terre Haute during his campaign in Indiana, said Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for the Obama campaign.

Since the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination is so tight - Obama leads by 143 delegates - states such as Indiana are receiving more attention from presidential campaigns.

"The Obama campaign in Indiana is working extremely hard in reaching out to students across the state, engaging them in the process and working extremely hard for their votes," said Mitch Stewart, Indiana state director for the Obama campaign. "Young people have played an historical role in this campaign."

Griffis and Stewart, along with Chris Hughes, the national director of online organizing, and Carlos Monje, the deputy policy director, spoke to members of Indiana college media outlets Monday during an Obama for America conference call.

Currently, 26 Students for Barack Obama chapters exist in Indiana, and six or seven more campuses are in the process of starting chapters, Stewart said. The Obama campaign will be visiting campuses across the state to reach out to these chapters, raising awareness about voter registration and providing students with firsthand knowledge about their importance in the campaign.

After capturing 57 percent of the youth vote in Iowa and continuing this trend throughout the primaries, it is clear that reaching out to young voters is key to the Obama campaign, Hughes said. Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook, also noted that Obama has more than 750,000 known supporters on Facebook, higher than any other candidate.

"This support for Sen. Obama isn't a matter of a couple of clicks and saying 'Yes, I support him on Facebook,'" Hughes said. "As a result, the whole level of energy of political engagement is really quite miraculous."

In addition to strong student involvement, the campaign also has paid staff in 19 separate offices across Indiana. The campaign's commitment to Indiana is clear from the number of staffing resources devoted to the state, Griffis said.

As May 6 approaches, voters will continue to receive information about both Obama and Sen. Clinton. This year, Indiana voters are given the opportunity to make a decision in the poll booths that, because of the close race, will have more influence on the nomination than in previous elections. With this in mind, the campaign asks college students to remember that their vote matters in this campaign.

"The one thing that I would ask (students) to remember is that we care for their vote," Stewart said.
© 2008 Indiana Daily Student via U-WIRE