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Posted on Apr 30, 2008 in Across the US, Campaign '08, DC Life, Democrats, Party Politics

Some early problems for McCain that MUST be addressed

There is no doubt that we are embarking on what could be one of the most contentious elections that most people living today have ever seen.

Already, attack ads are flying from both sides, and from campaigns to 527 organizations, each entity has started going after the various flaws and slip-ups of their opponents.

Today, CNN is reporting that the Republican National Committee is fighting to have ads released by the Democratic National Convention pulled off of the air, because they are ‘misleading.’

I’m sure next week the DNC will have a slew of ads that they want taken off of the air, and this is just going to be an ongoing cycle of bickering from both of the national organizations.

While I believe that the RNC is right for going after these ads that are in fact misleading, there have been some bigger problems that I’ve been noticing that I think need to be addressed before the RNC and the McCain campaign spend their resources on these inevitable things.

Once Mitt Romney suspended his campaign, I immediately contacted the McCain Headquarters to sign up to volunteer, since the campaign office is located in Arlington, VA, only a few miles from my home.

It would seem safe to assume that the national headquarters for the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States would be a place that is booming with activity, opening their doors early and closing late, making sure they make contact with all time-zones, and after that get the necessary campaign collateral put together.

Having worked on a variety of House, Senate and local campaigns, the campaign headquarters is usually the one spot where you could assume that they always needed help from volunteers. It’s usually a common mantra amongst campaign managers to tell their volunteers that if they find themselves with some free time, to come by the campaign office.

Even if there isn’t work planned, they’ll find something for them to do.

These are things that I thought were universal in the campaign world; however I’ve noticed that when it comes to trying to build a strong volunteer base at the national headquarters, the McCain campaign is doing it all wrong.

I truly believe that if they don’t fix their current program and launch a more flexible volunteer program ASAP, they simply won’t have the manpower they need to run a national campaign come November.

Currently, this is how the McCain volunteer outreach seems to work: when they need you, they’ll send you an email. However, instead of creating a variety of flexible opportunities, this is what McCain campaign sends potential volunteers when asking for help:

“If this is the first time you are getting this, and you are able to come in and help, please RSVP to do so – PLEASE DO NOT JUST SHOW UP.”

To anyone who has been to the McCain office will know that this place is massive, so its not as if they are worries about losing space. But, for some reason they don’t seem to want to open their doors on a full time basis.

While that bothers me, I guess I can understand why they would want people to RSVP first. But what is even more troubling is this:

“Volunteers are welcome between 10 and 7 during the week days and 12 and 4 on Saturday.”

Honestly, what person who works in DC is even home by 7pm? There is no reason why they shouldn’t have their offices open later, especially if they are just looking for help on simple things, like putting signs together, doing mailings, packets, etc.

Washington, DC, without a doubt is home to some of the best campaigners and college campuses in the country, and even though most of these people are employed outside of politics, they are still die-hards who are willing to help if given the opportunity.

Just out of curiosity, I called the Hillary Clinton headquarters which is also located in Arlington, seeing how they operated their volunteer program in their national office. When I called, I was asked what times I was available, what I was interested in doing and where I lived.

Very quickly was I provided with a variety of opportunities to help the campaign, and yes, their hours went beyond 7pm.

Now, I have absolutely no intention of volunteering at the Hillary Clinton HQ, but their willingness to accommodate to volunteers should be noted.

The DNC is doing a great job getting people mobilized. I’ve seen them on the streets of DC and Arlington, and I’ve also seen the same for the Clinton and Obama campaigns. Sadly, I’ve seen nothing from the RNC and/or McCain camp.

If the RNC and McCain campaign doesn’t start rolling out their mobilization efforts soon, I’m afraid that many volunteers are going to be turned off from helping, simply because they see the massive army that the left has amassed.

Recruiting volunteers is probably the easiest part of a campaign, however, if you don’t engage them immediately, the odds of them helping out when you really need them are quite slim.