It's an organizer's dream: instead of worrying about getting enough people to show up at meetings, worry about what to do with the overflow crowds. For Cuauhtémoc Figueroa (who goes by Temo), Barack Obama's national field director, it's reality. Even he is amazed by the degree of enthusiasm greeting the campaign. "Every event I go to," Figueroa says, "I'm surprised."
Previously assistant political director at the largest public-employee union in the U.S., he had plenty of experience organizing local groups and working on races before he joined Obama's team more than a year ago, when he was enticed by campaign manager David Plouffe's promise to "build a movement." Up against a more established opponent, the Obama campaign has depended on the participation of political neophytes. "It's the only way we can win," says Figueroa, who motivates supporters across the country. The energy goes both ways. "At 43, it's not easy," he says, "but I go out there, and every day I'm inspired."
That inspiration faces a tough task in Texas, where Figueroa, a California native, is focusing his efforts ahead of the Lone Star State's March 4 vote. One of his main goals? To win over Hispanics traditionally loyal to the Clintons. The son of farmworkers, it's a natural fit for Figueroa. The campaign's outreach includes Spanish-language media, bilingual phone banks, faith forums and economic roundtables. "We fight like hell for every vote," he says.
The Clinton campaign recently accused Obama of plagiarizing after he used parts of the "Just words?" speech given by his friend Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. But "Just words?" are not the only words that have been borrowed in this campaign.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine.]THE QUOTE THE PLAYERS THE CONTEXT 'Ready to lead on Day One' John McCain Hillary Clinton McCain features the slogan on his website, but Clinton has been trying to make it her own 'Fired up ... ready to go' Hillary Clinton Barack Obama She's used the words of Obama's chant, started by an Obama supporter but also an NAACP rallying cry 'Yes, we can'/'Sí, se puede' Barack Obama Cesar Chavez This echo of the United Farm Workers' motto became the basis for a popular YouTube music video
Mike Huckabee just got upbraided by a member of the rock group Boston for using More Than a Feeling without permission. But John McCain's rallies may have the most heretical playlist among the field. Some highlights:
Van Halen's Right Now Album: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
Bob Seger's Roll Me Away Key lyric: "I'm sick of what's wrong and what's right"
U2's City of Blinding Lights Key lyric: "Blessings are not just for the ones who kneel ... luckily"
Evangelical Blues Yes, John McCain hired the debate coach from Liberty University--of Jerry Falwell fame--to help make nice with Evangelicals early on, but Mike Huckabee's strong primary finishes--including 37% of the vote in Wisconsin--show that the Arizona Senator has plenty of work to do. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins calls McCain's Evangelical challenge "tremendous." So far, the Republican front runner hasn't made his decades-long opposition to abortion rights a centerpiece of his campaign, hoping instead to reach out to conservative Christians by invoking the fight against Islamic radicalism. [SECULARIST=1] [THEOCRAT=10] 4
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