By Marc Ambinder
(The Atlantic) The Obama campaign’s top two field generals have decamped to Florida, a sign of its confidence that the state, with 27 electoral votes, is tilting toward the Democratic candidate.
Steve Hildebrand, the deputy campaign manager, will oversee operations from Miami, and Paul Tewes, the chief general election strategist, will help supervise the get-out-the-vote program from the campaign’s state headquarters in Tampa.
Tewes, the Obama campaign’s liaison with the Democratic National Committee, arrived today, a colleague said. Both will work with Obama state director Steve Schale, who has put together the biggest field team ever field by a party, Republican or Democratic. There are more than 60 open field offices and more than 100,000 active volunteers. In addition, the Obama campaign is outspending McCain on television in the expensive state by a factor of five to one, records show.
With an aircard, both Hildebrand and Tewes can do their jobs from anywhere, and they will continue to oversee the national operation. Their physical presence serves as a force multiplier effect, letting volunteers and canvassers know that the campaign considers their work vital.
Other senior staff members will be dispatched to other battleground states soon.
Analysis: Not A Defensive Move
Republicans will be tempted to consider the arrivals of Hildebrand and Tewes as a defensive move, but it is not — clearly — since George W. Bush won the state handily in 2004. Republicans scoff at reports that the Democratic turnout machine is as big as advertised — supposedly more than 300 paid staffers supervise the efforts of the volunteers, but others concede that, in terms of sheer numbers, Obama is outworking McCain.
In some ways, Florida holds mythic attraction for some Obama staffers. Democratic activists everywhere still bear the wounds from the 2000 recount. Florida’s population grew faster than any other large state and then the rate slowed dramatically as the economy halted. The state is now in a recession — its first in more than a decade. Demographically, Florida is like five states in one, and it’s growing more diverse. 12,000,000 residents are now registered to vote, up about one million from last cycle.
Younger Hispanics in South Florida are casting their ballots for Democrats; young professionals along the I-4 corridor, while sharing conservative sensibilities, are hurting from the economic downturn and blame the President. The era of cheap land and cheap development is over; the crush of national resource competition is on, and not just around the Everglades. Jeb Bush, whose allure exceeded his party, is retired. Republicans are demoralized.