Thursday, September 30, 2004

Victory in Florida

Did you see that? Robert and I thought Kerry absolutely nailed it. Bush came across as the dolt he is. Of course, the Republicans will probably find a way by tomorrow to make intelligence somehow a bad trait for a Commander-in-Chief, but hopefully Americans will remember the pointed contrast between the poised and articulate Kerry and a blubbering and repetitive Bush. The cherry on our sundae here was watching “The Daily Show” afterward—Jon Stewart is absolutely hysterical. I highly recommend catching the show on a regular basis (11pm Mon-Thursday on Comedy Central).

Hopefully the numbers tomorrow will confirm what I think was clear tonight—that Kerry did what he had to do, namely he clarified his position on Iraq, and he fought off the label of being a flip-flopper. I wish Kerry could have worked in the idea that Bush’s idea of leadership is being able to drive a car into the wall and not blink, but I’ll settle for what he did say.

I don’t think I feel good about Kerry’s performance because I’m for him. In fact, I think my passionate desire to see him win makes me all the more critical, because there is no point in deluding oneself. This feels like a real boost after all the negative energy that has been circulating regarding the management of the national message. I think that not only will tonight persuade some undecided voters, it will also silence a lot of the Kerry quarterbacking that coming from supporters. I think we should take heart in the fact that Americans made the right choice four years ago (Gore won, not only in Florida, but also in the nation as a whole), and now with the stakes as high as they’ve ever been, there is no reason why they won’t make the clear choice now. Kerry is a good candidate. I think he made that clear. I think tonight made the election Bush vs. Kerry, and not Bush vs. Anyone But Bush, and I have to say, that feels good.

Today Robert and I went out and got some local cell phones with unlimited minutes in order to compensate for the miserable inadequacy of our office system. There is so much we could be doing in the office that we simply can’t because we don’t have those essential resources like enough phone lines. It felt good today to actually do something about it instead of just bemoaning the situation. Also, we act as ambassadors for our cause everywhere we go. One of the women helping us at the phone store thought she had to have a Florida driver’s license in order to register to vote, and therefore she hadn’t registered. We informed her that that simply was not true, and told her she could come fill out a registration form at our office. If she hasn’t come in by tomorrow, I’ll walk over there and take her one. It really is amazing how you can bring people into the electoral fold just by talking about it, just by saying “are you registered to vote?”.

So, onward to victory, one debate and one voter at a time!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The crazies

I could continue to go on and on about the chaos of this place, and the disappointment I feel about it, but I think I’ve painted a clear enough picture of the muddy grass roots already. So I thought I’d share some of the funny things that happen around here.

I think I may have touched on this already, how many people call here wanting to get a message to Kerry, under some mistaken belief that we actually a) could reach him or b) are here to convey messages to him. Most of these people are annoying, but some of them are just so out there that they are funny. Allow me to transcribe some voice messages for you:

In the deepest, most sultry, but very male-sounding voice:
Yes, good day. This is Emmauela Rambert. I would like to speak to Mr. Kerry, I would like to speak with him, because I have a message for him, and I would like to be doing a candidate for his campaign. My number is… and I would like for him to call me as soon as he gets a chance. Thank you, have a blessed day.

That’s just plain funny. On the more annoying side, there is this Native American woman in a wheelchair who rolled in here one afternoon with some “very important” materials that needed to be delivered to Kerry. She proceeded to talk Sarah’s ear off for an hour. And now she has taken to calling quite frequently. When I spoke to her once, she wanted to speak to Sarah again, except she hadn’t bothered to learn Sarah’s name! Last Friday Robert got stuck on the phone with her. Today she called insisting that someone come pick up some papers she had to get to Kerry. Here’s one of the messages she’s left on our voicemail the other day (having adopted Robert as her point person):

Yeah, Robert, uh.. this is Longlegs. [Yes, that is her Indian name.] Please give me a call. Uh…What I wanted to say is that… uh…we need to get somebody to uh… uh… uh… downplay Karen Hughes because Karen Hughes is Bush’s best spin-meister. Uh…we need to get someone to go head to head with her and stay calm enough and more mature than they get when they feel like they’re losing. Uh… okay, goodbye.

She left another message a bit later reminding us that we needed to pick someone who was a mother, too, just like Hughes.

If everyone who had an opinion about this campaign showed up to phone bank, we’d be overflowing with volunteers. But it is so much easier (and more fun) to just complain to someone than it is to actually try to do something about a situation. I will say, however, that disorganization is a real put-off for many people. (I know it is for me, but having reorganized my life to come down here, I’m sticking it out until the end, trying to do something, even if it turns out that it is not enough. The cause is honestly too important to not at least make that effort.) Tonight, for example, our phone banks were simply a series of disasters, of people not showing up to run them, of not being able to get into buildings, or use phones, etc. You can’t expect volunteers to make the effort to show up if you can’t show them you’ve made the effort to make sure things work smoothly. This is the kind of thing that makes me really mad, actually. There is too much of a “wing-and-a-prayer” attitude around here, where no one seems to know to take the steps to make sure that things are on-track and on-time. No one seems capable of saying “this is my responsibility,” and going out and being responsible for it. You can’t run a campaign like that—at least not a successful one. Well, it looks like I sunk back into my same-ole song once again! What can I say, I’m just giving it to you straight.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Up and running again

Power to the people! Jeanne has passed, and after 40 hours without power, we are now on our way to returning to normal—-at least what will have to pass for normal in this storm-ravaged state. We were lucky: apart from a few hours of mopping and towel ringing early Sunday morning to keep the water seeping in through the western-facing front door, kitchen windows, and my bedroom windows from becoming a flood, we suffered no other damage to the apartment. The complex as a whole experience the same type of impact it had from Frances—-a few more roof tiles missing, more roof flashing ripped up. Overall, compared to the damage other places, we got off easy. Most of all, it is a relief to know that we will not be one of the unfortunate places without power for many days or even weeks—-some people had just had their power restored after Frances (that’s three weeks ago to the day) when Jeanne hit.

We don’t know right now whether the office has power, but we anticipate that it does, or will by tomorrow anyway. We are certainly planning on going in. The staff, most of which fled to Naples with one of the interns (Sarah from New Jersey) whose grandparents live there, should be returning today. Unfortunately, time is of the essence for us—we cannot afford any more delays or interruptions!

As those of you who have been reading my comments regularly know, I haven’t had to many positive things to say about the organization of this local effort. The more I think about my experience here, the more I wish that I were involved at a level where I could speak up and try to institute or inspire some of the structure that I find lacking. I know I had the idea of inserting myself into an apparatus of someone else’s making, of being able to come down here and become a cog in a well-oiled machine. I think that this may have been a pipe dream as far as presidential campaigns are concerned, and I was probably a bit naïve to believe that I would find some organizational paradise just waiting for me to contribute my labor. I guess I believed that this campaign was simply too important to not be organized to the hilt. And that has been the sorest surprise: I still believe we must win this election, but I now see how that sentiment does not necessarily translate into a tactical machine to make it happen. Surely, the road to election day is paved with good intentions….

Speaking of good intentions, it is a constant source of chuckles in the office how many people seem so eager to help, until you try to get them to actually do something—especially when you tell them we need phone bankers. It is a real shame that voracious telemarketers have destroyed any patience people may have had for being solicited over the phone, since for better or worse, the phone is still a key piece in the political puzzle. And yet people are reluctant to be that voice on the phone, even when many of us feel that the things at stake in this election are matters of, or close to, life and death. (Indeed, during the memorial service portion of Yom Kippur services, I found myself thinking of all those soldier who have died in Iraq, and especially of those parents now left to mourn their children from this year on.) I often think maybe I should go try this phone banking thing once, especially now that we are in the persuasion stage of the campaign, just to see how rough it is—-to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Am I willing to be hung up on to get John Kerry elected?

It occurs to me—-and perhaps this is a sad revelation of sorts-—that I am as interested in helping Kerry win as I am in feeling that I’m contributing. Of course it will be a festive Nov. 2 if victory is ours—-but I wonder how I will value this experience if I am unable to correlate my effort, as part of this local effort, to the overall victory. I suppose the true test then of political involvement is to do this work anyway, without worrying about whether that feeling will come or not. It is certainly a rude awakening for someone like myself, who has lived most of her life being motivated by that sense of personal satisfaction in a job well done.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Hunkering down

The storm is speeding up, which could be a good thing if it means it passes over us more quickly. I managed to find a place to go to services this morning for Yom Kippur. All of the temples are abbreviating what is usually an all day event. So the service concluded for the day at 11, and with a gesture that will make this a Yom Kippur to remember: the congregation ushered the Torahs into the lobby to be wrapped in plastic bags for storm protection (in case something happens to the roof in the sanctuary).

Robert feels better prepared than he was for Frances. Jeanne is currently a category 3. Landfall is expected at about midnight, and the eye wall (where the strongest winds are) is expected to hit a bit north of us. How much of those heavy winds we will get thus depends on how big the eye is.

So that’s the report for now. Technically Yom Kippur isn’t over until 7:47 this evening—I’m hoping that we’ll still have power so I can toast some bread to break my fast! (If I last that long.)

If we do lose power, hopefully we won’t lose it for too long. If we don’t lose it, I’ll keep posting.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Into the storm—not the campaign, but the weather

We rolled into the office pretty late this morning, having indulged in sleeping in, needing to deal with our air conditioning which went on the fritz (again—Robert had it repaired shortly after he arrived), and running some errands. The news upon arrival was a storm track report that has Jeanne making landfall just north of us on Sunday morning. After days of reports stating that it would turn north well out to sea, the idea that it was heading directly for us was truly hard to believe.

However, by evening, the fix was in. Lines at gas stations are long and people are either preparing to hunker down or they are leaving town. Eve was actually already leaving for Yom Kippur tomorrow—she’ll get out, but the question remains when she’ll get back, since it won’t be Sunday, for sure, which was her original plan.

Hurricane panic naturally makes the campaign take a back seat for our volunteers—no one wants to commit to do anything, since it is unclear how bad the storm will be. Being hit with a second hurricane in two weeks is really not helping our progress in terms of increasing volunteer involvement. By the time all the fallout from this hurricane is over, assuming it is similar in impact to Frances, there will be just a month before the election!

So unless we wake up tomorrow and find out the storm has changed its mind, and the forecasts were incorrect, it looks as if I’ll be experiencing my first hurricane this weekend. Believe me, I intend it to be my last as well. Robert says we will be safe in the apartment as long as it does not elevate to a Category 4 or 5 storm. Currently it is predicted that it will be a level 3 when it comes in. We can expect to lose power, but apparently we are located in a grid that is somewhat important, since he was only without power for 56 hours during Frances, whereas others were out of power for 13 days!

Tomorrow I am taking a half day going to visit my great-aunt Lillian who lives in Hollywood. I already was planning to take Saturday off, so that leaves me with a long, if potentially unpleasant, weekend. I can always do data entry from home, as long as the power and internet connections hold!

To my surprise, we haven’t gotten any angry phone calls about being turned away from Wednesday’s event. In other positive news, Shayna, an intern at the office, showed me her picture with John Kerry—she had been part of the motorcade on Wednesday. (Please take a look.) Lucky her!

Cross your fingers for us. Either God hates Florida, or the Bush family is now controlling the weather in an attempt to wash out our campaign!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Kerry in the flesh

What a day. I didn’t sleep well last night, since I was nervous about performing my role today. In fact, I’ve had what I call “anxiety dreams” almost every night that I’ve been here. Well, tonight I am hoping that my fatigue overwhelms my anxiety, and that I sleep soundly. I certainly worked hard enough to earn a good night’s rest!

I knew the day was going to be interesting very early on, for two reasons. First, when I got there at 10 (a half-hour before the general volunteer call, and one and a half hours before doors opened), there were already people showing up for the event. There are a lot of older people down here for whom this was their day’s activity, so they get up and they go to it. Second, the advance team (part of the national staff that goes ahead of Kerry and plans his events) failed to provide the adequate number of volunteer badges; they had too many press badges, so they gave those out to most of the volunteers. They were to be worn around the neck, but they didn’t have enough string! You've got to be kidding, right? This surely wasn’t a good sign, and it was indeed a sign of what was to come….

The fact that Kerry is running for President of the so-called “most powerful national on Earth” makes him important, and that makes him a potential target. So the secret service was there doing security. Security, while necessary, is really time consuming. It takes a long time to move people through the metal detectors, search their bags, look at their cell phones. However, if you know you are going to have a lot of people at an event, and you know how long it takes to put them through, you need to bring enough metal detectors to do the job. We had two at first, and then after things began to back up, the third was started (which didn’t seem to make much sense to me). My job was to manage the ticket line, which was the security line—we lined people up and got them through the detectors, checking their tickets as part of this process—so I received the brunt of people’s anger at the slow lines (including comments such as “this is the most disorganized event I’ve ever attended!), and at the number of people being allowed to cut the line, be it VIPs (mostly elected officials) or the elderly and disabled. Most people, however, were pleasantly patient. The volunteers I was managing also did a great job.

The fundamental problem, which none of us could do anything about, was the fact that they had given away way too many tickets for the event. The fire marshal cut things off at a certain point, and we had to turn away probably several hundred people who were waiting in line. Suddenly it didn’t seem like such a bad idea to have shown up early—those people got in, at least! (Indeed, it was so full that many of the volunteers—myself included—didn’t get in. More on that in a bit.) Turning away people who are your supporters is not good. In fact, it’s really bad. It’s one thing to say “sorry, there is no more room.” It is another to hand out tickets and then say “there’s no more room.” Clearly fewer tickets should have been handed out! We are all expecting a lot of angry calls tomorrow about this…. Ugh.

I did get to see Kerry, looking in through an open door (before they closed it, anyway). I listened to him speak about Israel (this was a key thing for him to do here), and I listened to an answer he gave on health care, and I heard him say that he would not reinstate the draft if elected—unless there was a major attack on the U.S. that made it absolutely necessary. Basically, he was saying he wouldn’t use the draft to continue fighting the Iraq war. From what I saw, Kerry was warm, funny, and well-spoken, if quite hoarse. The crowd really liked him, too. He didn’t seem stiff. In fact, with his hoarseness, he almost sounded a bit Clintonesque! I think I was too tired, and too concerned about the success of the event as a whole, to really want to hang on every word of the policy-focused meeting. Once the door we were watching through closed, Robert and I didn’t stick around too long. We were tired and hungry. In a way, from my perspective, hearing him speak seemed anticlimactic in a way, since it was not a rally, but a much more low-key type event. Apparently, though, I was not the only person who felt this way—I watched a few people leave while he was speaking! Part of this may have been that the seating was poorly configured—many people could not see him at all. It must be part of our celebrity culture that we want to see these “important” people with our own eyes. In that sense, being at the event isn’t good enough.

In a similar vein, some of the volunteers seemed to have the attitude that volunteering would give them special access to the event—which it mostly did not. As I said, for many of us, it ended up denying us any access! While it is a shame that the advance team couldn’t have done a better job reserving space for all of us, the advance team purposely didn’t promise that we’d all get in. It put a wry smile on my face to see how, towards the end, some volunteers were clearly more interested in getting inside than in staying until the last possible task was completed. I’m not sure why I felt the pressure of performing well more than I felt excited about seeing Kerry. Perhaps it is just the general way I react to handling responsibility. Also, I know I didn’t come down here because of some interest in being “on the inside” or to feel special. I came down here to do what I can to prevent Bush from remaining our President for 4 more years.

And that thought I expect will get me up tomorrow morning to keep at it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Santa Kerry Comes To Town

As if our office weren't already the definition of chaos, today everyone descended upon us to pick up tickets to the Kerry town hall meeting. In this county is so much enthusiam for Kerry and frustration about how he is doing nationally that an event designed to be about heathcare and targeted at seniors has the potential to turn into a giant monster rally.... Also, the Bushies are planning to protest our meeting, and Rudy Giuliani is apparently speaking here in West Palm Beach tomorrow as well. I'm captain of volunteers for the ticket detail, so this will really put me on the front lines. Hope I can take the pressure!

The craziness of the office continues, but it does not bother me half as much as it did when I first got here because I'm beginning to get used to it. Sadly, one can even be habituated to unacceptable situations!

Today I saw something on Fox about a possible Kerry campaign link to the whole 60 minutes fiasco--I'm scared to actually go see if that is more than conservative propaganda. It is truly frightening to think that something like that could endanger Kerry's chances--which it could. Doesn't seem to matter to enough people that Bush has been responsible for over 1000 soldiers' deaths in Iraq, not to mention countless Iraqi civilians. I hope that tomorrow that Kerry will reassure me and all of us that he can be counted on to remind Americans of all the horrible things Bush and his croanies are responsible for--will nothing ever stick to the teflon president?

Monday, September 20, 2004

If you chum, they will come

Excuse the two-day absence. We are still waiting for high speed internet at home here, though I’m not sure if that is the reason I couldn’t drag myself to the computer; rather, I think I was simply too beat! On Saturday and Sunday we brought together over 400 interested volunteers to kick off the campaign drive. While there is no doubt that there is a widespread eagerness to defeat—or re-defeat, as we like to say in Florida—Bush, translating all that willingness into feet on the ground is no easy task. While our buttons, posters and bumper stickers (these materials are known as chum in the business) were hungrily devoured, the real work is a lot less glamorous and a lot more difficult, and takes a lot of effort to coordinate. And personally, I felt that we didn’t capitalize enough on having all these volunteers together in one room. But since I’ve never done a campaign before, I have no way of knowing if this is par for the course or what. Plus, you all know that I'm the harshests of critics about pretty much everything.

It’s especially frustrating and disheartening to see that I’m not the only one who notices our disorganization. Yesterday’s meeting was down in the southern part of the county, an area heavily dominated by older, Jewish voters, many of whom are already organized among themselves in long-standing democratic clubs—which makes them more organized than we are, since we just got up and running, and were hit by a hurricane in our first week of operations. But when someone who could be your grandmother warns you that you need to be better prepared, it hurts! Not only because it is embarrassing, but because she’s right! Ordinarily, I’d have the attitude that there is always next time to get it right, but if that next time only comes after 4 more years of Bush, it’s simply too little, too late!

These folks know how much is at stake, and it is a shame to think that all their willingness might slip through the cracks if we cannot develop the adequate structure to harness it. These folks I saw yesterday are the people who accidentally voted for Buchanan in 2000 and who are now worried that Bush’s war mongering is making him a more appealing candidate regarding an essential—if not the essential—issue for these folks: Israel. How anyone could think that creating more hatred of America is a pro-Israel policy is beyond me, but I suppose if there exist Jews for Jesus, Jews for Bush (a group one concerned grandma told me does exist) is only slightly more illogical. However, it is here that the campaign’s fairly obvious inability to make a simple statement on something is troubling: these voters are Democrats, and will turn out for Kerry, but they want to be able to state Kerry’s policy on Israel so they can counter those who feel for whatever flawed reason that Bush is the only person who can stand up to terrorists.

Realizing the importance of this county, Kerry is coming to West Palm Beach on Wednesday, scheduled for a town hall meeting style event. We are just hoping that they will screen those who are allowed to ask questions carefully, as these concerned seniors will not think twice about taking the Senator to task, as they have already done to the campaign people here, somehow caught in the mistaken believe that they have Kerry’s ear! Hopefully he will be able to assuage any concerns of these valuable voters and mobilizers. While there is still plenty of time, and Kerry apparently knows how to fight from behind, I find myself increasingly wishing that I was part of the team that does have Kerry’s ear, so I could shake some sense into him. I just finished reading Jeffrey Toobin’s book about the 2000 Election, Too Close to Call, which identifies Gore’s reluctance to play hardball as one reason the Republicans successfully stole Florida. It appears now that Kerry, too, is reluctant to roll up his sleeves and forcefully wrestle with the Bush lie machine. And while the Democrat’s lack of eagerness to play dirty is perhaps respectable, there is simply no other way to counter the power-hungry, stop-at-nothing attitude of the Republicans. It is almost too bad that Kerry actually paid attention at Yale: perhaps had he just skated through on Daddy’s coat tails, he would be calling Bush a liar on Iraq instead of staying he “gilded over the truth.” “He what?” most Americans are saying. We’ll have to see if Kerry is able to untangle his rhetorical tongue for the debate.
As for me, I’ll be back in the trenches tomorrow, however, moving my handful of the mountain.

Friday, September 17, 2004

TGIF! Wait, we work weekends!

I thought I’d work only a half day today, to take a break before the weekend, but the hours have a way of slipping away here. We got our copy machine today, courtesy of the same person who is paying for our printing, which is great news: we are going to crank out probably 10,000 copies to prepare for these organizing conventions Saturday and Sunday.

Kerry appeared on the local news here tonight, in anticipation of a Florida visit next week. Depending on whose numbers you believe, Bush is either pulling away or Kerry is closing the gap. I’ve also been exposed to the ads for both sides since I’ve been here, since it’s a swing state. Those ads are why we don’t have a state-of-the-art office: all the money goes toward advertising. Apparently, you have to win or at least keep close the message war, and then turn out the vote. Turning out the vote doesn’t matter if you haven’t won in the message department first.

And finally, you will all be happy to know that Jeanne is now a tropical depression and is headed back out to sea!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The roots of the grass

Happy New Year! It's a slightly quieter day around here, since the Jewish holidays have started.

So, what's new here? I'm not going to lie to you, though it's tempting. Now that I am down here in the very roots of the grass, so to speak, it is a surprising picture. The environment is so disorganized, you have to learn to let it roll right off you. Our office budget consists of mainly in-kind donations and positive thoughts along the lines of "we'll have to figure out how to get that somehow." A wing and a prayer, in other words. So besides completely shifting my attitude from my normal anal "if it's not perfect I can't handle it" type approach, I've now adopted a more zen approach with the philosophy of "I can only move one handful of this mountain. Don't worry about the mountain, worry about that handful." And many times it isn't easy even to do that as effectively as you would like.

It is a very unpredictable environment. For instance, we get all sorts of volunteers through the door, some more capable than others. But again, you have to let it roll right off you. I'll be honest and say that I've thought sometimes "how are we going to win if we don't have more phone lines (or any phone lines, which is the case in one local office near us), or any money, or effective interoffice communication?" Call it paranoia, but I doubt the republicans are this disorganized. I can imagine walking into their gleaming office full of expensive computers and fancy phone systems.... It is a historical fact that the Democrats have not been very well organized. My mother even suggests that liberals in general tend to be less organized, as part of their character. I don't know about that for myself, but then again, I don't have the guts to even attempt to run this operation. Perhaps you need to have that kind of courage, a type of blind faith, to work in this environment despite its total chaos and fly-by-night tendencies.

For myself, I can only give what I can. Which is, no matter what, more than I could do than if I weren't here at all.

But if any of you happen to know anyone feeling the urge to shower us with office supplies, cell phones, copy machines, laser printers and the like, do let me know!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

In the swing of things

49 Days Till Victory!

Where to begin? My second full day left me feeling more like I had a job, in that I am beginning to contribute more and find ways not just to help, but to manage and to steer various things along. Organizations like campaigns that bring together many people who do not know one another for a short period of time are very interesting beasts, I think. Robert and I believe in just letting our roles develop gradually, and seeing where the day-to-day workings of the campaign take us.

Today I made some phone calls to volunteers for phone banking, one crucial activity of the campaign, (though often one that I will delegate to another volunteer so I can return to my office management duties). We get law firms to loan us their offices at night and use their phones to make calls. I fought some more with the computer to get it onto the network (again!) but I think that I get what the trick is now, and that I won’t waste more time on that. I basically try to do whatever needs to be done; this afternoon I went to make almost 3000 copies at Office Max.

Robert wondered, perhaps rhetorically, over dinner last night (we went down to check out this place we’ve rented for our organizational meeting (we did find places for both weekend meetings), what would the office be doing if we hadn’t shown up? It is interesting to think about how things happen the way they do because of who is here in the office, which is pretty random, considering that anyone interested can sign up to volunteer, and you never know who is going to walk in the door or say “sure” on the phone. Naturally, we have leadership—and we have the same goal of defeating Bush!—but so much about the day-to-day is, well, day-to-day!

Knowing this has me pretty impressed with the energy and abilities of the people who I have met so far. The most surprising thing is the youth of many of the volunteers. I was working with 2 young women today who we chatting about where they want to go to college! My jaw dropped even further when I discovered that Eve, who is the office director, is a mere 23! Perhaps it is not unusual for young people to have such a large role in the campaign, since the job can’t pay much, and it’s a grueling, non-stop affair. Still, I was amazed by how old I felt all of a sudden.

Well, it’s time to go home and rest up for tomorrow!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Greetings from Florida

Greetings from campaign country! As promised, I’m going to keep a daily journal of my experience as a campaign volunteer. I arrived yesterday (Sunday) in Palm Beach, and Robert met me at the airport. Robert, or Bob, as I often will refer to him, is an old family friend, who has known me since I was 2. (Some of you know him.) We are staying in his condo (formerly belonging to his parents) in North Palm Beach, which is about a 20 minute ride down either the turnpike or I-95 to the West Palm Beach, FL, at the Kerry/Edwards Victory 2004 Office, from which I write. Bob got here two weeks ago or so, just in time to get involved in the opening of this office. He and I are basically acting as office managers, doing whatever needs to be done to get and keep this place running so the official campaign people can do the nitty-gritty stuff. As you probably heard on TV, Florida has been hit by some nasty weather. Frances did some damage here (though the word is now that Ivan will miss us, so it could have been worse) and has forced us to reschedule our major volunteer organization meeting. Today’s primary project is to find an available space to accommodate a few hundred people so we can have two meetings on Saturday or Sunday, one for the north part of Palm Beach County, and one for the south. Many potential places are now unavailable due to damage from the hurricane, and the short notice does not help matters. It is extremely important however to do this as soon as possible, but it is a complicated matter: this is a very Jewish area, and the high holidays are right around the corner….

So far, I have not made myself too terribly useful. We brought Robert’s new computer into the office, but so far I have had no success with the wireless network (we should have gotten a Mac!). However, using a plug-in Ethernet connection I can now get online and access the printer. So I’m now at least able to be useful, even though what I’m doing is writing this blog!

Stay tuned for more Victory 2004 news!
Jessica