Obama HQ: Welcome to the Jungle

As you might expect, Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, which I visited on Thursday and Friday and wrote about for this week’s paper, is a place brimming with youthful enthusiasm. It looks like a college dorm. Cookies and jars of candy sit on the desks, ball caps rest on computers, and the door to the press office is adorned with a white sign that reads “Welcome to the Jungle.”

The question is whether good cheer and enthusiasm (and lots of volunteers) can possibly be enough to compensate for the advantages the Hillary Clinton campaign has in terms of experience and money.

The Obama operation certainly seem to have the youthful-innovation component down. The new-media office has rolled out my.barackobama.com, a social organizing tool calibrated to locate and activate Obama supporters around the country. According to 23-year-old staffer Chris Hughes — who happens to be the cofounder of Facebook (and who looks a lot like this guy) — a good measure of real interest in the site is how many people download their photos. About half of them have.

Robert Gibbs, the elder statesman in the press office who came up with that howlingly aggressive response to Howard Wolfson during the David Geffen flap, promised that the Obama campaign was ready to take on the Clintons — but in some unspecified new way.

“Obviously she has a stable of some of the best talent in the Democratic Party, and that’s commendable,” said Gibbs “But if we get into a contest of ‘how are we going to outdo what everyone else has always done to win the presidency,’ we are not going to win. I don’t think there is any doubt that people can do politics as its always been done better than we can.”

–Jason Horowitz