Obama Campaign Prepares for April 22nd

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Pennsylvania has become the most important state in the United States. Come April 22nd, the state’s 158 elected delegates will be distributed–and an unexpected result (like a win by Obama, or a crushing victory by Clinton) could decide the Democratic primary.

Anne Kolker ’08 is on the front lines of the Obama campaign’s operation, leading the Students for Barack Obama organization.

“I thought Pennsylvania wouldn’t matter,” she now admits. But after serving with Senator Obama during the summer of 2007, she wanted to get involved in the state-wide organization–and was stunned to discover that, early in the campaign, there was almost no significant organization in the state. “I slowly worked my way up, called the campaign in Chicago, and then they asked me to interview,” she explained.

She got the job. Now she coordinates student groups, keeps communication lines open, and manages a ‘spring-tern’ program which is placing two-hundred college students from across the country that are coming to help in the Pennsylvania campaign. While one of the students might come to Swarthmore, most are headed to the largest schools in the state—the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State, among others.

Obama faces a tough fight in Pennsylvania.

At a recent call with major donors, the senator said that a loss by only 10% would be a victory, according to Talking Points Memo. “This is Clinton Country,” said Kolker.

Still, she focuses on the student population which has turned out in record numbers in primary after primary. “I expect 30% of students to turn out,” explained Kolker. And in past primaries, students have been strong supporters of the Obama campaign.

One of the biggest concerns for Democrats in Delaware County has been voter intimidation. “The county is heavily Republican,” said Kolker. “Some people worry about their jobs if they register as a Democrat. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

If you are interested in joining the Students for Barack Obama, the Swarthmore Chapter is having a meeting tomorrow evening, and regularly meets Sunday nights.


  1. 0

    Now Is the Time for All Good Americans to Think!

    While viewing the HBO special “John Adams,” based on David McCullough’s Pulitzer prize-winning biography, I was moved by an unpopular Adams uniting a disparate Continental Congress behind a common cause. One by one, representatives of the thirteen colonies fell in line to vote unanimously for the War of Independence, the lone dissenter choosing to absent himself rather than oppose the group. These men had everything to lose: Adams had an inspiring wife and loving children; Thomas Jefferson and George Washington had wealth; Benjamin Franklin had fame. Still, they risked it all, not the least of which included their lives—for a principle: The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And as I watched these high-minded men forego their individual wills for the greater good, I thought, “This is patriotism.”
    Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” once said, “To be President, a person must really love this country.” The founding fathers loved America’s capacity for change.
    They were not in the least “proud” of the status quo—being shackled to England.
    Not doubting his love of country or loyalty, Senator John McCain also seems to be enamored of the American legend, the land-of-the-free-home-of-the-brave story of our national consciousness—and he should. Having suffered unmitigated torture as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, he is a hero of that story. Perhaps McCain feels he deserves or by his sacrifices has earned the Presidency. But Jefferson would remind McCain that democracy is not about one. It’s about all.
    The question is, Do we, the people, in order to have a more perfect union, deserve John McCain? And there are others: Do we deserve another “King George W. Bush,” whose only remedy is more of this? Do we, like our colonial cousins, deserve to be taxed to our grave while an imperialistic presidency showers corporations with billions in tax credits? Do we deserve to be thrown out of our homes while greedy chums of those in power add to their coffers with the tax dollars the rest of us pay? Should a half million of our children and our children’s children lose their limbs and another 80,000 lose their lives in a hundred more years in Iraq? And should they be doomed to pay the incalculable cost of that lie? Do we deserve a president who professes to know little about the economy? And how does he profess to solve America’s crime problem and that other nagging American institution— race? Rather than reward John McCain with the presidency, America would be better served by erecting a statue in his honor.
    Senator Hillary Clinton may offer up solutions to our nation’s ills, but to be effective solutions need execution—by a team. Her numerous leadership shortcomings sabotage her ability to be an effective team player. Clinton biographer Carl Bernstein writes: “Hillary’s fear of humiliation, her fear of secrets being revealed, absolutely permeate her life.” As first lady, she had a health care solution, but it was doomed to fail because it was handled more like a covert spy mission rather than openly debated.
    Great leaders credit their team with a job well done. (Abraham Lincoln even took the blame for his team’s failures!) But Clinton tends to grab all the glory: She has yet to acknowledge that it was Barbara Feinman and not she who wrote “It Takes a Village” and on many instances, she refused to congratulate Barack Obama for winning an election—although it is “campaign etiquette” to do so.
    Clinton is also prone to chronic (serial?) self-aggrandizement: The Bosnia “misstatement” in which she said she was running for cover in a war zone, when, in fact, there was no danger; The SCHIP chicanery in which she overstated her participation in the Massachusetts health care; Her inflated role in the Northern Ireland peace process. Et cetera. Et cetera.
    The former first lady seems to want so badly for people to make her the first woman U.S. president. During a time when so many of our vital institutions are imperiled, Hillary pleads to crowds to help Hillary make history. But it is not about Hillary and it is not about making choices based on demographics. (Would not this be that much maligned policy of affirmative action? Have not some people voiced loudly and clearly that they want none of that? Then why vote for Hillary because she is female? If Geraldine Ferraro’s charge is correct —that there is an affirmative action candidate in this 2008 run— if we are to judge from words uttered by a candidate, it can only be Hillary of which she speaks!)
    There is something loathsome (at least distasteful) about the obsequious and pandering conduct of a person seeking such a high, important and esteemed office. I can understand how Clinton would target a speech to a particular audience. But what else can be said of her affecting a southern drawl when speaking to southerners? Or when addressing a crowd of blue collar workers remembering when she was a little ole struggling waitress? And there is the sudden appearance of her Jewish lineage when she was “loreleiing” the Jewish vote for her New York senate seat. (She promised upstate New Yorkers 200,000 new jobs when she ran for the senate in 2000. They never got them. In fact, New York lost jobs. Take heed, you good people of Pennsylvania!) Do we need a candidate who can “costume up” to appeal to America’s heartland? Or does America need in this land, a president with a heart? There is only one U.S. President I can remember who had such a cancerous ambition to be President and for whom secrecy and trickery were such a predilection —Richard Nixon.
    We are a nation gripped by fear; fear of losing our homes; fear of losing our savings; fear of losing our loved ones; and fear of having no health insurance. Numbed by fear, we sleepwalk towards the person who looks like us and promises a panacea for our pain. (Fear and desperation, the very breeding ground which gave birth to the likes of history’s most heinous despots.) We are a nation of laws, yet in Clinton’s campaign there are ominous signs that democracy is giving way to despotism: High school civics teaches that the presidential nominee is the person with the most delegates. Yet Hillary Clinton would have us believe it’s the candidate who wins the biggest states offering the most electoral votes. I had learned that electoral votes don’t count until the general election. Until then, the democrat contenders battle each other, leaving the contender of the Republican Party out of the fight until the general election.
    In yet another electoral campaign faux pas, Hillary Clinton runs with the Republican candidate as she dares to say that she and McCain have experience, but Obama only has hope. As of late, Hillary has had crow to eat over her unfounded boasts of “experience.” But we know that Obama is still about hope and no one is trying to take hope from Obama. If anything, detractors charge he has too much of it (if there can be such a thing!)
    Considering Clinton’s rulemaking-as-she-goes-along-style (or her rules-breaking tactics as evidenced by her placing herself on the Florida and Michigan January 2008 ballots in opposition to DNC rules, and why the inexplicable delay in releasing her tax returns? More of Hillary playing by Hillary’s rules!), I can’t help but think of Wyatt Earp’s nemesis, the Clantons. Like them, Clinton moves like a “political outlaw.” As much as Earp tried to bring law and order to Tombstone, the Clantons were always there, running rough-shod over sacred democratic principles established over two centuries ago by the party of Jefferson and died for at Gettysburg, Normandy and Vietnam. Hillary Clinton stands little chance of winning—democratically—by established Party rules. If she were a true patriot, if she really loved this country, she would sacrifice her political ambitions and get out of the race now. Before yet another Clintongate, of which the most recent Democratic presidential leadership was plagued.
    In times like these, nothing short of the ability to inspire the masses and foment a spirit of and commitment to unity among our leaders will do. This was the greatness of John Adams. And this is the greatness Senator Barack Obama—“a once in a lifetime president”—is offering us today; nothing less will do. So, what are we to do with the rampant appeals, cautions, and alarms tending to confuse us? The inimitable FDR tells us that we should fear those who would have us paralyzed with fear. John Adams admonishes us “to read, speak, write and think!” And here is another answer, in the words of former President Bill Clinton: “If one candidate’s trying to scare you, and the other one’s trying to get you to think, if one candidate’s appealing to your fears and the other one’s appealing to your hopes, you’d better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope!”
    A vote for hope is a vote for Senator Barack Obama. A vote for Senator Obama is a vote for change. And a vote for change is a vote for you—for your children.

    Luisa Washington Chapman
    with Kaye Washington, Idalene Washington Chapman,
    Sherry Washingon and Gwendolyn Washington, M.D.
    Cheshire, CT
    (203) 272-4270

  2. 0
    Finlay Logan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    In all fairness, I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks coordinating volunteers for the Obama campaign, doing voter registration, tabling in Sharples and making fliers. Voter registration isn’t candidate-specific; it’s not even party-specific! It’s the meat (or tofu) and potatoes of our campaign, and any group organized in support of a candidate could benefit from having representatives on campus, talking to students, getting them excited and involved. But I haven’t seen Republicans out there getting people registered to vote, and I haven’t seen Clinton supporters.

    So while it might be fair to say that Swatties for Clinton are just as invested in the April primary, I’d say that the Obama campaign is way ahead in terms of involvement and visibility on campus.

  3. 0
    anonymous says:

    I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama’s campaign – to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against. For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It’s been a very sexist media. Some just don’t like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign.

    If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.


  4. 0
    Miles Skorpen ( User Karma: 6 ) says:

    This piece wasn’t intended to be subtle: As I interview Anne Kolker, of course there was more information on the Obama campaign. But we’ll have quite a bit more on both candidates in the next month.

  5. 0
    anonymous says:

    “Obama Campaign Prepares for April 22nd”? Because the Clinton campaign isn’t? Subtle things like this article contribute to the sense that supporting Obama is the most appropriate option on this campus. While there are no Swarthmore students highly placed in any other campaigns, if it was Anne Kolker who merited the writing of this piece, acknowledge in the headline. I realize that this is to a great extent an article about her, which is fine, but then make the headline “Anne Kolker Rules” or something analog. And if you were truly going for a balanced piece about the Pennsylvania primary, which you clearly were not, you would have provided information about the meeting times of Swarthmore Students for Hillary Clinton as well. They meet in Kohlberg Coffee Bar Wednesdays at 9.

    HILLARY ’08

Leave a Reply to Bree Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *