Welch credits Dean’s 50-state strategy for Obama win

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch believes the framework for Barack Obama’s winning presidential campaign was built in Vermont.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, Welch credits Howard Dean for the strategy.

(Sneyd) Grassroots organization, built on the foundation of the Internet, was the hallmark of Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign.

The former Vermont governor’s team was the first to figure out how to channel online energy into a political force.

Ultimately, it didn’t hold up in the rough-and-tumble world of presidential politics. Not until, Welch says, Obama took Dean’s strategy and built on it.

(Welch) "He set the standard. His campaign four years ago was a, `Yes, we can,’ campaign. `You’ve Got the Power.’ And he was willing to stand up and go to the American people and he got this started. In fact the Obama campaign studied what Howard did, where it went right, where they could improve it and they took that and they perfected it.”

(Sneyd) Welch believes Dean also gets a share of the credit for the Democrats’ electoral sweep across the country.

When he became chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dean launched the 50-state strategy.

(Welch) "And what was that based on, but the simple democratic proposition that every American in every state should have a voice. And that a party has to be inclusive, it has to reach out to all and it can’t be just micromanaging and micro-targeting, trying to slice and dice the electorate to finally win.”

(Sneyd) The strategy called for the national party to direct help into every region of the country, regardless of whether it leaned Republican or Democratic.

Dean’s DNC sent money, expertise and staff into every state party. Welch says that helped to power the Democrats’ winning campaigns up and down the ticket.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

NOTE: Hear Mitch Wertlieb’s interview with Howard Dean, Friday at 7:49 during Morning Edition.

AP Photo/Alden Pellett 

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