The GW College Democrats promoted student campaigning, and democratic advisers offered tips at a seminar Thursday in Thurston Dining Hall.
Former Democratic National Committee advisor Danny O’Brien offered a “crash course” in campaigning and was joined by Gore 2000 Chairman Tony Cohelo. O’Brien described how campaign teams break down eligible voters into groups and then target supporters. He also described how to win votes using “get out the vote” techniques, which include phoning constituents, canvassing and greeting voters as they approach the polls.
The program was the first in a four-part series of political training programs sponsored by the CDs, CD President Anjan Choudhury said.
“This is the kind of training that prepares students to go out into the field,” he said. “(O’Brien) emphasizes the things that we can do right now.”
O’Brien said students need good people and recruitment skills, the ability to do mental and physical work and the disposition to be energized to campaign successfully at the grass-roots level.
O’Brien said the presence of community groups has declined in recent years. Americans are prone to getting involved in electoral politics, but civic groups are not channeling them, he said.
“Civic society needs a jolt,” O’Brien said, adding that voters were more likely to go to the polls if they had face-to-face contact with the candidates.
“(The seminar) was very insightful,” freshman Nolen Gertz said. “(Campaigning) is not an intimidating thing as long as you are willing to show up and get involved in it.”
Cohelo made a surprise appearance at the event and spoke briefly about Gore campaign strategies in New Hampshire. He said Gore will pursue an aggressively open race.
“You can’t win a campaign without enthusiasm,” Cohelo said. “And you can’t run a successful campaign out of Washington, D.C.”
Organizers of Gore 2000, based in Nashville, Tenn., plan to market Gore as someone who has fought for Democratic Party ideals, Cohelo said.
The next College Democrats’ seminar will focus on how students can get started in politics. Future training sessions will cover techniques for lobbying and grass-roots campaigning, Choudhury said.