Transcription – Joe Trippi Interview

Q:              As 2003 unfolded, with the volunteers signing up and meeting up with the money coming in, what’s the strategy for translating that into winning the Democratic nomination with, you know, the usual process there of Iowa and New Hampshire and Super Tuesday and all of that stuff?  How did you translate this mass phenomenon, which was unprecedented in its scale and character, into a strategy for… [01:03:00] How did he think he was going to — or how did you think he was going to win the nomination?

TRIPPI:       Well, we were ahead in Iowa, and had a — you know, you have 99 counties in Iowa, you have county coordinators in all of them.  You have, you know, offices in every congressional district.  I mean, all the — I mean, I had won Iowa for Mondale in ’84.  I had been the state director, and had run it.  And I’d worked in Iowa in 1980 for Kennedy, Gephardt in ’88 when we won.  So, you know, at that point, I’d been in Iowa three times, lost it against the sitting president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, versus Kennedy, and win it — been either running the state or — with Mondale, or with Gephardt as one of the strategists there.  So, we had Iowa, organizationally, pretty much in hand.  And our numbers there were up by 10 or 15 points, [01:04:00] in our own polling and in most of the polls that were out there.

Q:              This was when?

TRIPPI:       The summer of 2007, and the fall of 2007.

Q:              Oh-three.

TRIPPI:       Two thousand three — yeah, I’m sorry.  I’m getting my presidential years screwed up.  Yeah, 2003.  We were, I think, ahead in New Hampshire.  We were ahead — you know, we were ahead nationally — went into the lead in September or October.  You know, people forget now, Kerry was the huge frontrunner.  I mean, the New York Times had written — Nagourney at the New York Times had written, like, why do we even have to — we can just — why do we even have to go through this primary process, because we all know John Kerry is going to be the nominee?  Turned out to be true, but it wasn’t — it wasn’t that prescient a piece.  We were like a midget in that race.  They had — you’d go to the DNC meetings where they have all the managers of the [01:05:00] different campaigns to go over rules for debates and stuff, and there was a big-kids’ table — I’m not making this up.  There was a big-kids’ table.  The campaign managers for Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, Lieberman — I mean, just the big-kids’ table.  And then, there’d be this little-kids’ table over to the side, which was Carol Moseley Braun’s manager, Dennis Kucinich’s manager, Howard Dean’s manager.  And we’d — you know, and Graham, I think.

Q:              And Al Sharpton.

TRIPPI:       Yeah, that’s (inaudible).  There were, like, five of us sitting over here, and four or five sitting over there.  And whatever they wanted — if they said, “Well, we — the debate will last this long,” we’d be going, “No, no, it should be longer.”  It didn’t matter.  We’d — just, like, “Yeah, yeah, you kids shut up.”  So, like, we were — we were like a complete, like, nothing, in terms of how we were treated, or what people thought, or what the press thought of us, until… And grew to, like I said, be first in Iowa, first in New Hampshire, first nationally. [01:06:00] Campaign offices in South Carolina, Washington State.  I mean, we were way out… Mostly — the other thing is, we had a lot more resources than any of the other campaigns, so we were able to open up field offices in states like Washington and South Carolina, well before Kerry even dreamed of doing it.  And so, we were, you know, at a place organizationally — we had something like — I can’t remember — I think we had like thirty-seven thousand ones in Iowa.  So, you basically ID — ask people who they’re for.  If they’re for you, they’re a one.  If they’re leaning, they’re a two.  If they’re undecided, they’re a three.  And then, if they were for Kerry, they were a four; Gephardt, five; and whatever system you’d have.  But all the systems have a one.  We had thirty-seven thousand ones in a state where most people thought a hundred thousand, [01:07:00] maybe a hundred and ten thousand people were going to vote. And there were five, six, seven candidates.  So, we were — and that jibed with what our polling and what the polls said.  So, organizationally, that was all — you know, everything was sort of, you know, at a place where you’d want it to be, going into the last six weeks of that campaign.