(Host) For the third time in a year, Howard Dean’s presidential campaign has outgrown its offices. This week, Dean’s staff moved to larger quarters in South Burlington. The move shows a campaign operation that is now among the biggest of the Democratic field.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) The scene at Dean’s new headquarters is one of controlled chaos. A magazine photographer shoots pictures of the candidate surrounded by staff and volunteers. Nearby, computer workers wire up dozens of new machines. The former Vermont governor hams for the photographer and gives a pep talk to the staff.
(Dean) “Let me thank you. We’re getting enormous momentum as you well know. And your reward is this incredibly beautiful new office space.”
(Dillon) The South Burlington headquarters marks a new milestone for Dean’s run for the presidency. The campaign now employs 101 people in Vermont and around the country. About 60 people work here, and another 40 are based in states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and California. By comparison, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s campaign has hired 65 workers.
In South Burlington, the offices are spacious, but hardly luxurious. With movie posters and cartoons hanging on the walls, the d cor is more college dorm than corporate. And Dean himself doesn’t get his own office. He shares a room with campaign manager Joe Trippi and longtime aide Kate O’Connor. Deputy campaign manager Bob Rogan shows visitors around.
(Rogan) “This is our policy research folks, the ones that are putting together the foundation of the governor’s policies that ultimately he will execute as president. So these are a bunch of young folks who have packed up their belongings from all over the country and have moved to join us. The research folks research the governor’s record historically as well as all of our opponents’ records. So this is the area where all the opposition research happens.”
(Dillon) The staff is filled with people who heard Dean speak and then hired on to help his long shot presidential bid. Andrea Minkow works on health policy research.
(Minkow) “I came up here actually for a weekend and came into the office and was so energized by what was going on here, that I actually stayed for two days till I ran out of clothes, drove back to New Jersey, left my job, packed my car and came back up to Vermont.”
(Dillon) Political campaigns are like armies on the move. They require huge numbers of people, along with supplies, and communication networks. The Dean campaign has found many volunteers through his web site, and through an Internet based organization called Meetup.com. Meetup has allowed Dean volunteers from around the country to plan and coordinate meetings.
(Dean) “This is an unusual campaign, first of all because of the way it uses the Internet. But secondly because the Internet people find us. I went down to Texas last month and a guy came up to me and said, “Hi, I’m your Texas coordinator.” And I said, “You are?” He organized all of Texas – he’s a former state legislator – through Meetup.”
(Dillon) Dean says he also plans to use hundreds of Vermont volunteers to travel to New Hampshire and other states to talk about his record as governor.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in South Burlington.