Obama Builds a Farm Team
Further polishing his credentials for a potential national run down the line, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is planing to use his new leadership political action committee to fund a school to train new campaign workers who can support Democratic candidates around the country.
Obama's Hopefund PAC will focus on recruiting young African Americans and Latinos for the training program as part of his "Yes We Can" initiative, according to Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for the senator. Hopefund will partner with EMILY's List, which has significant experience in staff training, to get the campaign school off the ground. Gibbs said the first training session would be in January with several subsequent sessions planned for the remainder of 2006. The program will be run out of Washington, D.C. (Here's the Chicago Sun-Times piece on the training effort.)
Formed early this year, Hopefund PAC has had little trouble raising money, not surprising given Obama's near rock-star persona among Democrats nationwide. (Click here to read the New Yorker's treatment of Obama.) In its first six months of existence, Hopefund raised $852,000 and donated nearly $100,000 to a cavalcade of colleagues and other politicians seeking office in 2006. At the end of June, Hopefund had $445,000 in the bank.
The formation of this campaign training school is one of a number of small steps the first-term senator has taken since coming into office in January to cement his status as a national figure in the party. He has signed a bevy of fundraising appeals for individual senators, including a Moveon.org-organized appeal for Sen. Robert Byrd (W.Va.) that raked in $800,000 in less than three days.
Obama has politely deflected questions about his future political ambitions. He seems a very unlikely presidential candidate in 2008, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) already casting her considerable shadow over the field. But if Democrats fail to win back the White House in three years time, get ready for chants of Obama 2012.
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