Obama Teams Spread Out To Tout Plans

Here's the big question that President Obama asked yesterday: Can he harness the passions that got him elected and use them to pressure Congress to pass his agenda? The president asked volunteers to spend Saturday knocking on doors, drumming up mass support for his budget.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

Here's the big question that President Obama asked yesterday: can he harness the passions that got him elected and use them to pressure Congress to pass his agenda? The president asked volunteers to spend Saturday knocking on doors, drumming up mass support for his budget.

NPR asked reporters around the country to follow the canvassing. Here's Daniel Zwerdling.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: The president asked volunteers to do two things yesterday.

(Soundbite of door opening)

Ms. JESSICA URBACHER(ph): Hi.

Ms. BRENDA GONZALEZ(ph): Hi.

Ms. URBACHER: My name is Jessica, and I'm a volunteer for Organizing for America.

Ms. GONZALEZ: Okay.

Ms. URBACHER: It's basically an extension of the grassroots movement for Barack Obama.

ZWERDLING: First, volunteers like Jessica Urbacher were supposed to ask folks to sign a petition. She'd come knocking on Brenda Gonzalez's door.

Ms. URBACHER: And we're basically out today to get people to sign a pledge saying that they're in support of Obama's plan to rebuild America. Would you be interested in signing the pledge?

ZWERDLING: Gonzalez said she was happy to sign. And the guy who answered his door nearby loved this whole populist campaign. His name is Bernard Scoville(ph). He still has a Kerry/Edwards sticker in his window.

Mr. BERNARD SCOVILLE: To making change, it involves, to a great extent, education. And the more ways you can reach out, including going door to door, the more chance you can have people educated so that we can move forward.

ZWERDLING: And then every canvasser, like Jeanine Tang(ph), was supposed to ask people to take action.

Ms. JEANINE TANG: If you have access to the Internet, we're encouraging people to go to barackobama.com and look up the contact info for their representatives and just call them and let them know that you support Barack's plan to invest in energy, health care and education.

ZWERDLING: The strategy might sound simple, but Barack Obama is the first president who's ever launched a mass campaign like this to pass his agenda. As you probably know, the president's election campaign amassed more than 13 million email addresses. They gathered more addresses yesterday.

Unidentified Man: Any information that you guys need to send out to me, just send it to my house.

ZWERDLING: If the president can inspire that base to pressure Congress, it could change the way presidents build support, and here's what we know about how it's going. We sent station reporters to follow canvassers in four states, from South Carolina to California. They said some volunteers didn't show up, some didn't get clear instructions about what they were supposed to do, others forgot to ask people to contact Congress. They were rusty. The country will know if the president's campaign worked if voters barrage Congress with calls and letters telling them to pass his budget.

Daniel Zwerdling, NPR News.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.