The 2008 presidential race is well underway on the UW campus, with the Students for Barack Obama group swiftly establishing itself as a slick and robust campaigning organization, at least in terms of its online presence. This is backed by a considerable human presence, with well over 600 persons signing on since the beginning of the semester to make it the largest presidential campaign group on campus.
On Thursday, September 13, the chapter held its formal kickoff to the primary season. Speakers there included downtown Madison alder Eli Judge, Oshkosh state rep (and air guitar maestro) Gordon Hintz, and Gus Doyle, son of the Wisconsin governor, and the meeting focused on the group's plans to campaign for Obama in Iowa in advance of that state's caucuses this winter. " The crowd was enthusiastic about getting involved," declared chapter blogger Cameron Marston. "We had people almost fighting to sign up for our first Iowa trip and we sold a ton of t-shirts, even making a list of people who need more."
The biggest news from the meeting, though, was that the Illinois senator is planning on visiting Madison within the next few weeks, making him the first major presidential candidate to stop in town this campaign season.
Preceding the kickoff, Marston and fellow campaign volunteers Josh Bernstein and Matt Flannes created a video introduction to the student campaign group. This 90-second promotional video follows below.
The Students for Obama group on the UW campus is doing well in terms of generating discussion and media attention -- including here -- that's commensurate with its size and aggressive campaigning. In addition to all of the press the organization is garnering, it's also eliciting a reaction from student bloggers.
One observer charges that the student newspaper The Daily Cardinal is delivering preferential coverage to the Obama campaign. Then there's the reaction to the campaign kickoff from Jason Smathers, who serves as editorial page editor for the other campus daily, The Badger Herald. "As for the kickoff itself, it was a little underwhelming," he wrote. "Certainly nice to hear that Obama is coming to Madison, but I expected that to happen anyway."
There will be plenty more pixels lit about this and every other presidential campaign though the autumn and into winter, with well over a year remaining until voters get to fill in their chosen arrow.