“Running for president is the equivalent of jumping out of a 16-story burning building and telling the American people, ‘catch me,'” said Joe Trippi, former presidential candidate Howard Dean’s campaign manager, in a speech last night in Ives Hall. Trippi spoke of a crowd of over 200 people about how he utilized the Internet to try to make America ‘catch’ Howard Dean.
Trippi made use of the Internet to mastermind a fund-raising technique which earned Dean $59 million — more money than had been raised by any other Democrat before him. Dean’s record-breaking support came through contributions averaging less than $100 each.
However, Trippi’s impact extends further than using the Internet for financial campaign contributions; he has made the world wide web become a way to instantly connect with the voting public through the use of the blog.
As Tim Lim ’06, president of Cornell Democrats, put it, “Trippi has transformed politics through Howard Dean’s campaign. When attacked by the conservative mass media — things like Fox News — the counter-attack is now the blog.”
Relaying the power of the blog, Trippi spoke about the final night of Dean’s “Sleepless Summer Tour,” a campaign to raise $1 million. One ‘Deaniac’ suggested online, fifteen minutes prior to a newscast, that if the campaign reached its goal, Dean should walk on stage with a red bat– the symbol of his campaign. Twenty minutes later — thanks to the work of a dedicated and slightly disheveled campaign worker — Dean appeared on national news holding a red bat.
Trippi’s trip to Cornell was planned and paid for by the Cornell Democrats, and was co-sponsored by Mock-Election 2004. To publicize it, “the Mock Election publicity team worked with the Cornell Democrats to blanket the entire campus with flyers,” said Michael Zuckerman ’06, president of Mock Election 2004.
Trippi told of how the Dean campaign grew from a dedicated base of 432 supporters to an expansive crowd of 636,000 devoted followers. So with more money than any other Democrat and passionate, hard-working followers, how did Dean lose?
“The only way I can explain it…both parties have done everything they can to make sure no insurgent exists.”
Trippi knew that Dean would be a hard sale, but signed on anyway because “they were showing me the crack cocaine, which is what politics is when you’re doing it at this level.”
Trippi gave his analysis of the race as it currently stands, saying, “Kerry’s got a chance; the problem is that it’s a tactical fight. Now, the Bush campaign is forcing the gambit the other way — into the Kerry states. Now states like Wisconsin, which should have been Kerry’s, are back in play.”
Trippi also opined that right now, Bush is leading the race and he could see Kerry potentially winning the popular vote by 1.5 million but losing the electoral college.
The audience responded well to Trippi’s speech. Even those who had fundamental disagreements with what Trippi stood for appreciated his message.
“His campaign work was great even though the views he supports are not,” said Mike Lepage ’05, president of the Cornell College Republicans.
When asked what is right and good about American politics right now, Trippi told The Sun “almost nothing,” but judging by the audience’s response to him and the changes he has implemented, some students would disagree.
“Something good in politics? He is!” said Jenna Goldstein ’06.
Archived article by Erica Fink
Sun Staff Writer