Plouffe Takes Obama's Case to the Hill
By Jonathan Weisman
Barack Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, made his first extended appearance on Capitol Hill this morning, huddling with House Democrats behind closed doors for nearly an hour and assuring them that Obama would be helping their election bids -- and that they would be asked to help his.
Since the senator from Illinois sealed up the Democratic nomination, some congressional Democrats have grumbled that the Obama campaign was operating too much on its own, and leaving them in the dark. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a national Obama co-chairman, acknowledged the discontent, but she said it has faded away since the campaign completed its general election reorganization and named long-time House Democratic aide Phil Schiliro as Obama's congressional liaison.
"What people are waiting for are the marching orders," Schakowsky said after Plouffe's presentation.
As a former director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Plouffe was probably the right person to allay House Democratic concerns. But he did not issue marching orders. Instead, he went through his now-familiar Powerpoint presentation, full of numbers, such as the 1.8 million donors who have contributed to the campaign and the 1 million volunteers on tap, and maps, such as the 18 battleground states Obama is focused on.
But he did tell the audience what it wanted to hear, that Obama sees the importance of down-ballot Democrats, especially House and Senate members he would work with as president.
"One of Plouffe's messages was, 'We are going to help in these congressional campaigns," said Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), a freshman from a swing state.
Plouffe and other Democratic representatives also allayed concerns about another rumor flying through Democratic circles: The food at the Democratic National Convention next month in Denver would be all weird and healthy. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) reassured those assembled that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) had insisted on plenty of fried food -- and that he will get his wish.
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