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Obama Campaign Will Use Six Consulting 'Teams'

Less than 24 hours after securing the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama is putting in place six teams of campaign consultants that will handle advertising, polling and direct-mail efforts for the general election campaign.

Much of the expanded structure is built on an existing core of consultants Obama has relied on throughout his primary bid, although the expansion is significant and includes many (although not all) of the up-and-coming firms on the Democratic side.

"It's a big country," said Jim Margolis, a partner at the Democratic media firm of GMMB and one of Obama's lead consultants. "These are some of the most talented people in the party. We want to get the benefit of their expertise."

Margolis as well as Jason Ralston (of GMMB) and David Axelrod and John Del Cecato (AKP Media) have handled the vast majority of Obama's advertising to this point and will continue to do the bulk of the production and ad-making.

The new additions include: David Dixon and Rich Davis (Dixon-Davis Media); Steve Murphy and Mark Putnam (Murphy Putnam Media); Bill Knapp (Squier Knapp Dunn) and Saul Shorr.

Three other firms -- SS+K, which specializes in reaching young voters and new media, Fuse, a St. Louis-based media firm handling much of Obama's advertising in the black community, and Message Audience & Presentation, a firm that does Obama's Hispanic media -- will also be involved in the creative team, which is known collectively -- although not that creatively -- as the Obama Media Team. (Obama also added Anita Dunn, a longtime party strategist and media consultant, to his team in early April.)

On the polling front, the changes are more marginal, as Obama had already been using five different firms to conduct the massive amount of survey research required during the protracted primary fight.

Cornell Belcher (Brilliant Corners), Joel Benenson (Benenson Strategy Group), Paul Harstad (Harstad Strategic Research), David Binder (David Binder Research) and Anna Bennett (Bennett Petts & Normington) will all continue to do polling for the campaign. The new addition is John Anzalone (Anzalone Liszt Research), a rising star in the political polling world who has wins in two southern House special elections -- Louisiana's 6th and Mississippi's 1st -- under his belt already this year.

Larry Grisolano, a partner in the Chicago-based direct mail firm The Strategy Group, will continue, as he did in the primary, to coordinate efforts between the media and polling arms of the campaign.

Margolis would not confirm that the various consulting teams would be assigned a specific geographic region of the country, but others involved in the process said that was indeed the plan.

Splitting the media consultants into teams focused on specific regions is an idea borrowed from the structure used to great effect in the last few cycles by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The goal of such an approach is to take full advantage of the knowledge about a particular state or region accrued by a consultant or group of consultants over a series of past campaigns.

Building out a candidate's political team is always a difficult task fraught with potential peril. The consulting game is rife with petty personal rivalries built up over years of running campaigns against one another; if those disagreements bubble over into a full-blown power struggle (see "Kerry, John" in 2004) it has the potential to hamstring the campaign at its most critical moments.

Obama, to date, has run an extremely tight ship on the staffing front -- no public infighting and, much to The Fix's chagrin, no serious leaking of inside information.

The fact that none of this list of consultants leaked until after Obama was formally the nominee (the interviews have been ongoing over the last few weeks) is a sign of the level of discipline the campaign demands.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 4, 2008; 12:26 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Comments

If we're going to critique the looks of the potential first ladies, here's my shot:
Cindy McCain has only one expression and more botox in her face than in improperly canned jar of green beans. -Posted by: Mason

You mean Obama is interviewing First Ladies too?

Posted by: As I Toot Samba | June 5, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I think Obama's big strength is his unwillingness to change his persona for the pollsters -- the problem with Kerry was not that he was an effete snob, but that he compromised himself with cammies and tried to pretend.

FDR was a snob and a blue-blood. Kennedy's 'style' (and Jackie O's) was his own (and hardly 'of the people'). In fact the idea that Kennedy's style was 'popular' probably reflects the character of his leadership: people worked to emulate him.

It would be ironic, but it may be that the cultural result of a successful Obama presidency will be increased sales of arugula and a more "buttoned down" look.

Perhaps not a bad thing.

Posted by: Carrington Ward | June 4, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Don, I like your posts but you may want to reconsider the use of "call a spade, a spade" in this context. Maybe it's a regional thing or a dated use of the phrase but it does have a racial connotation.

scrivner, I don't care what his bowling score or preferred drink is. I want someone who has the intellectual capacity and judgement to lead this country in this post-9/11 era. We have had 8 years of the worst administration since Rutherford B. Hayes and we cannot afford more of the same.

Posted by: jlmoriarty | June 4, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

TODAY'S REZKO CONVICTION AND PURPORTED MICHELLE OBAMA VIDEOTAPE: THE REAL REASONS HILLARY (AND AL GORE) HAVE NOT ENDORSED BARACK OBAMA?


It's pretty obvious, except to the mainstream media. Hillary still holds out hope that the Rezko conviction and a purported video allegedly showing Michelle Obama making racially insensitive remarks will torpedo Obama's candidacy.

Problem is, conservative operatives promised to produce the tape Monday morning, and it never surfaced. The reports emanated from a right-leaning web site, leading some to theorize that reports of the tape are part of a disinformation smear campaign against Obama. If that proves to be the case, then the Hillary forces appear to have taken it seriously... and now it's all come back at her.

And that could have been the intent all along: Smear Hillary and Obama at the same time, with the same brush.

Some operatives are saying that the GOP is withholding the tape until the general election, when they will use it as a nuclear option against Obama. But as of today, no one has produced hard evidence that such a tape exists.

Of course, the media could simply ask Michelle Obama if she ever made such remarks. To my knowledge, no one has broached the question.

Posted by: scrivener | June 4, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

What is so funny is how many rightwingers wanted romney now they are stuck with mcbush and boy is it gonna be rough on em cause mcbush just can't talk.....sounds cheesy obama will kill him in the debates

Posted by: hippieinMississippi | June 4, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Kingofzouk, you have been reading too much of Krauthammer lately.

Posted by: JNoel002 | June 4, 2008 2:05 PM

-----------------------

I'm not so sure he isn't Krauthammer.

Posted by: Just sayin' | June 4, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

That's what I'm talking about! Organization and discipline!

Posted by: Obama2008 | June 4, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

ddawd writes
"Kind of weird how Paul failed. His views were actually the MOST conservative. Small government using the military ONLY when necessary."

That tells you how much the modern GOP really promotes conservativism. It starts and ends with lip service.

Posted by: bsimon | June 4, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

If we're going to critique the looks of the potential first ladies, here's my shot:
Cindy McCain has only one expression and more botox in her face than in improperly canned jar of green beans.

Boo Yah.

Posted by: Mason | June 4, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"And, we all see how successful his approach worked!"

Kind of weird how Paul failed. His views were actually the MOST conservative. Small government using the military ONLY when necessary.

Really showed the true colors of the Republican voter. Basically, they want someone to tell them how awesome their religion is. No wonder those idiots still love Bush.

Incidentally, much of Paul's support came from young people.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 4, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The first thing Obama does as the new nominee is to pledge loyalty to AIPAC.Very depressing.Maybe Mr.McCain is right...Obama really isn't any different.Of all of the candidates who generated any enthusiasm,only Mr.Paul had the sense and patriotism not to pander to Israel.

Posted by: Mrs. Beasly | June 4, 2008 12:39 PM

_________________________________________

And, we all see how successful his approach worked!

Posted by: VinceinATL | June 4, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

....Name another President that had a Bow wow for a partner.


See the 42nd. It wasn't that long ago...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 4, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I can still fondly recall al Gore cleaning the floor with that dunce Bush.

Pretty much sealed the election for George. Barack has been terrible in the debates -- with those who agree with him. wait until his fairy tale world hits the light of day.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Chris, for god sake shave before you go on CNN.

Posted by: robinhood, california | June 4, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I hereby volunteer to give Obama some bowling lessons and also loan him my bowling shirt from Mid-City Rock and Bowl in New Orleans.

While I enjoy a nice latte as much as the next guy, I have also rolled a 245 (tenpins) and a 157 (duckpins).

Posted by: Spectator2 | June 4, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

smear Obama as a sissy, effete, latte-liberal

--- it is not a smear if it is accurate.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"Mccain may not be the best speaker, but he is set to tear Obama a new one in a debate"

I can't WAIT to see those two go at it. When is the last time McCain has been challenged on anything? Obama will absolutely destroy McCain.

I mean, sure, there are like a dozen people that think George "got wood?" Bush outdebated Kerry, but yeah...

Posted by: DDAWD | June 4, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

It really makes no difference who he picks he will not win. Why? Take a look at his wife. Bow wow....Name another President that had a Bow wow for a partner. NONE...

Posted by: robinhood, california | June 4, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

You're missing one person. I just graduated from law school and am a five year Democratic hill staffer for a senior member of Congress and I can't get the campaign to call me back about volunteering, much less responding to my resume.

How can you talk about filling campaign spots when you don't respond to repeated offers to volunteer? Staff up, but do it right.

Posted by: UnemployedFrmrDemHill Staffer | June 4, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"The right-wing fringe will try to smear Obama as a sissy, effete, latte-liberal, and then cry like punks once Obama punches back and knocks some of the dust off of McCain."

They already do that. How many times has McCain whined about Obama going against his "new kind of politics" as if that means Obama is supposed to spit shine his ass until November.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 4, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

scrivner: good ideas.

Posted by: gbooksdc | June 4, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"We actually are capable of making decisions for ourselves, especially about our kids.

Posted by: kingofzouk"


YOU have kids??? Dear god!

Posted by: DDAWD | June 4, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Geez, scrivener. Bowling lessons? Touring with Springsteen? What, is this guy running for Mr. Congeniality or for President of the most powerful country in the world?

Maybe he should start wearing sweaters, too, like his role-model Jimmy Carter did. since that worked out so well.

Don't you know, Syria and Hamas don't care if he gets cheez wiz on his tie, they just want him to remember his promise to sit down mano-a-mano with them once he gets elected.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | June 4, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama has consistently displayed a strong ability to identify and nurture a group of advisers who are notable for their intellectual curiosity, breadth of experience, practicality, restraint, personal modesty and professionalism. Much like the man himself.

Moving decisively to set up his national campaign structure is the first sign that Obama is in it to win it. He is going all the way to the White House.

Posted by: dee | June 4, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Without Clinton support...our man is toast. 13% of electorate backed by another 12% lefties can not send him to the podium.

Posted by: Obama12 | June 4, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

the most poignant aspect of McCain's speech last night was his pointing out that Obama has never gone against the Liberal grain, NEVER, that he has avoided all potential contraversy with the radical left at moveon and huff and Kos.

this will be his downfall. It indicates either laziness, intellectual sloth, rampant idealism, radical impracticality or exteme cowardice. (see Carter J)

and that is only when he bothers to advance a solid unchanging position on anything. Most is simply negotiable in the mould of the clintons. My uncle is now disowned; Iran is puny, Iran is terrible; the surge is already a failure; raise taxes to advance productivity, etc.

Mccain may not be the best speaker, but he is set to tear Obama a new one in a debate, that halting, pensive, like, you know, indecisive stammer is a flop.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Is it an issue ......if John McCain Got anally raped by KGB agents while he was held as an American Prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton.

What if the Russian's.....have Photo's?

Posted by: John & the Russian KGB | June 4, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

McCain doesn't have much else to go on.
Posted by: Dr. Don Key | June 4, 2008 1:44 PM

I agree. This November is shaping up to be a blowout.

Posted by: JNoel002 | June 4, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

If we get 90% of the combover (percentages are always very hard to calculate with this, just ask rudy. 80% can turn into 20% with a simple pass of the scissors) and 100% of the mullet vote, we got it in the bag.

I did notice last night that hillary and bill seem to have the same doo. I wonder if he quit the 200 dollar on-runway cuttings. Looks like they have one of those vacuum-attached electric dog clippers/razors. chelsea doesn't partake.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Kingofzouk, you have been reading too much of Krauthammer lately.

Posted by: JNoel002 | June 4, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The campaign starts, and here is the day one prediction - The right-wing fringe will try to smear Obama as a sissy, effete, latte-liberal, and then cry like punks once Obama punches back and knocks some of the dust off of McCain.

And I will concede the arugula, if the right fringe will concede that a McCain-Pawlenty ticket will have the worst hair of any Prez-VP combo in history - the combover and the mullet.

Posted by: bondjedi | June 4, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"if the shoe fits......."

I take a 13. I'm guessing you're no bigger than a 9.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 4, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

if the shoe fits.......

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

clever zouk writes
"simple simon..."

I can't compete with that level of rhetorical brilliance.

Posted by: bsimon | June 4, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

It is entirely consistent to say Iran IS not a threat & must be kept from acquiring a nuke - which would make it a threat.

Posted by: bsimon | June 4, 2008 1:41 PM

OK, I'll go along with that, as long as it doesn't apply to Iraq too. that would spoil the entire Lib argument.

Libs = cognitive dissonance

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

MrsBeasly says
"The first thing Obama does as the new nominee is to pledge loyalty to AIPAC.Very depressing"

You apparently overlook that Obama pointedly noted mcCain is offering a false dichotomy between protecting Israel & talking to Iran. Promoting the security of Israel can be accomplished by means other than lobbing rhetorical bombs at Iran.

Posted by: bsimon | June 4, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama might want to add a few more women to his list of consultants.

Posted by: Anne | June 4, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

simple simon. I have no doubt you can spin and respond to every gaffe made by his latteness. just like everyone did when the VRWC attacked the clintons in an unjustified manner.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

response to: (JNoel002 | June 4, 2008 1:36 PM)

Valid points, but McCain doesn't have much else to go on. Bush Jr.'s ace in the hole in Y2K4 was national security, national security, national security. With the economy taking center stage, and McCain admitting "I'm not an economist," he has few other options.

Posted by: Dr. Don Key | June 4, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

OK, then I want to offer some advice to his latte-ness too:

Try to remember which is the business end of the gun you are handling. We NRA freaks love the surprised look on the average Libs face.

Aim for the pins, not the gutter.

Gulp the entire shot at once, it is not hot latte.

when someone yells out, Hey wimp, it is not necessarily you. It could be jimmy carter.

arugula is not generally on the menu.

We are not bitter because the government is not big enough or because god is not favoring us properly.

We actually are capable of making decisions for ourselves, especially about our kids.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"Wasn't it only about two weeks ago that he ststed that Iran was tiny and was no threat at all."

Wasn't that a comparison to the soviet union? Compared to a continent-spanning superpower that had enough nuke warheads to decimate the world several times over, it is fair to say that Iran, which has not yet developed a nuke, is not much of a threat. It is entirely consistent to say Iran IS not a threat & must be kept from acquiring a nuke - which would make it a threat.

Posted by: bsimon | June 4, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

response to: (kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 1:19 PM)

Yeah, right. Like McCain getting his facts wrong about the surge, and forgetting where he is. No gaffles there, Sparky.

Posted by: Dr. Don Key | June 4, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama will argue that McCain is more of the same, and McCain will argue that Obama represents change, but the wrong type
Posted by: Dr. Don Key | June 4, 2008 1:18 PM

This argument didn't work very well for Clinton in the primary; do you think the general election will play out differently?
I can see Obama hammering McCain on the economy and the war. Those are two issues where Obama seems to be in a better electoral position than McCain. But how will McCain's agrument of experience and better change work against Obama where Hillary's failed.

Posted by: JNoel002 | June 4, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

response to: (scrivener | June 4, 2008 1:07 PM)

Great post. Bush Jr. pretends to be an average Joe, though he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. As with much of his administration, it's all a little bit of fluff, but people seem to eat it up.

As you noted, Obama has to -naturally- appear to be an average Joe. Dukakis failed with his GI Joe photo-op. Al Gore failed when he had to hire someone for alpha-male training. John Kerry failed when he pretended to be an avid hunter, after being filmed windsurfing solo. Let's call a spade a spade. Obama will have some hard times winning votes in certain fire engine-red Southern and Midwestern states. Call it winning the Bubba vote. As you mentioned, Obama is apparently a b-ball fan. That's a good start. He has to find some other ways to naturally show that he's an everyman, and not just an orator in a suit.

Posted by: Dr. Don Key | June 4, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

To kingofzouk:

Obama is an ace 'baller. How is that being fake? The dude just needs to loosen up when he's out of his latte-sipping element, that's all.

Springsteen will school him, maybe teach him to roll up his ciggies in his tee shirt sleeve, wear some biker boots, you know, bring out the "real" Barry...

Posted by: scrivener | June 4, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

so scrivener - you advice is to be totally fake and appear to be someone you are not. that sounds like the usual Dem method.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

scrivener: Your ideas are quite good. Send them to the campaign. It couldn't hurt.

Posted by: Deb | June 4, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Wednesday Iran posed a serious threat in the Middle East and vowed to stop it from acquiring a nuclear weapon."


Wasn't it only about two weeks ago that he ststed that Iran was tiny and was no threat at all.

with clinton it was a scandel per day. with Obama it is a gaffe per day.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 4, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The bottom line is that this election will come down to Obama's inexperience vs. McCain's experience. Obama will argue that McCain is more of the same, and McCain will argue that Obama represents change, but the wrong type (note: expect the Texas Swift Boaters for Lies to pull some kind of Willie Horton move). Conventional wisdom says that Senators, and seasoned Senators in particular, don't get elected to the White House. But Obama certainly would have benefited from completing at least one term as Senator. The election could turn into a Star Wars moment in which Obama loses a close election, then wins easiliy after four years.

Posted by: Dr. Don Key | June 4, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

MEMO TO OBAMA CONSULTANTS ON TEACHING CLIENT TO "RELATE":

MORE HOOPS; DO TALK RADIO; LEARN BOWLING FROM A PRO AND WEAR A BOWLING SHIRT; SHUCK THE TIE AND OPEN YOUR COLLAR; DO A TOUR OF JERSEY WITH SPRINGSTEEN...

Obama needs to show that he's comfortable relating to average folks on their turf, whether it's at diners, bowling alleys, shopping malls, on commuter trains/subways, etc. His consultants need to school him on the basics -- about bowling shirts, open collars, flinging his jacket over his shoulder a la Bobby Kennedy; losing his tie when he's eating a cheesesteak; taking his basketball game out to playgrounds and community centers in both white and black neighborhoods.

Basketball is his huge asset when it comes to relating to plain folks. It works in the midwest, it works in the inner city, in the suburbs, everywhere. It's ironic that another basketball-savvy politician, Bill Bradley, also had trouble relating to the common man/woman, even though he's revered by sports fans everywhere.

Maybe Obama and Bradley should consider a barnstorming basketball tour where they can both get loose with the 'ballers and talk to the fans in the stands. Bradley bridges the gap between the sports bar and the intellectual salon and would be a great campaign asset for Obama.

Also, Obama's handlers should get him on talk radio, including so-called conservative talk radio. Let him confront the Sean Hannitys of the world in a venue that lets him talk directly to their listeners. Obama needs to venture into the lion's den and show his mettle. Given his wit and his nimble mind, he'd do fine.

The media laughed when Hillary did a shot and a beer, but it worked. Don't be afraid to advise Obama to go back into blue-collar bowling alleys -- but this time, have someone like ace Missouri bowler Pete Weber give him some lessons first (open the sessions to the media). And put him in a cool bowling shirt this time.

The tour de force for connecting with the comman man: Obama should tour Jersey with Bruce Springsteen. Visit the old textile mill across the railroad tracks; Camden's ghettos and redevelopment projects; the refineries in Elizabeth; the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Bruce is a popular culture idol who arose from the masses and never lost touch; maybe he could help Obama relate to his fan base, which is substantial among white, blue-collar workers.

Springsteen endorsed Obama but has yet to appear with him at a big event. Rather than do the stadium thing, a Jersey tour would take the candidate out to places where his most elusive constituencies reside.

Posted by: scrivener | June 4, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

response to: (Posted by: Mrs. Beasly | June 4, 2008 12:39 PM)

Well, it ain't PNAC. I was born after the 60's, but for all the hippies' talk of change, when they grew up they learned an important lesson: change should be done within the system. Is Obama probably less idealistic now than when he was younger? Sure, we all were. The bottom line is that, for the most part, Obama is not promising the same type of third-year-of-Bush-Jr. that McCain virtually is. It's fascinating that when confronted with the FACT that McCain voted 95% of the time with the Bush Jr. administration last year, his campaign refuted it without any hard facts. All things considered, Bush Jr. represents more of a deviation from the traditional nominating process of the GOP, than McCain. Why is it so taboo to mention McCain's age as a factor? McCain has served America well - he's earned his retirement. Of course in many regards, age is just a number. But aside from the potential health issues that McCain could experience as president, due to his age, the electorate continues to get younger. What was the GOP thinking?

Posted by: Dr. Don Key | June 4, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I have complete confidence in Obama's ability to choose effective people to work on his campaign.

And hats off to him for keeping the media at bay. I have certainly found the media to be destructive to and disprespectful of the candidates running for the highest office in the land.

Posted by: Seneca | June 4, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I expect to hear a bunch of griping for about 3-4 weeks, and then the Clinton supporters will wake up and realize that Red Bushie McSame wants to TRIPLE the federal budget DEFICIT and bog America down in even more wars that have nothing to do with our nation - all for pride and greed.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Didn't know that!

O'bama uses David Binder Research as one of his pollsters. Office just a few blocks from here He's King of SF Pollsters

Binder is one of the best pollsters I have ever seen. Got his start with my SF poli sci stats mentor Rich DeLeon. I've heard many presentations, seminars.

Posted by: john mccutchen | June 4, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The first thing Obama does as the new nominee is to pledge loyalty to AIPAC.Very depressing.Maybe Mr.McCain is right...Obama really isn't any different.Of all of the candidates who generated any enthusiasm,only Mr.Paul had the sense and patriotism not to pander to Israel.

Posted by: Mrs. Beasly | June 4, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

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