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Catching up with President Obama’s man in Rhode Island

April 10, 2012

As Mitt Romney moves closer to winning the Republican presidential nomination, President Obama faces mixed news: he has clear edges over Romney in some key areas, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll out today, but deficits on the pace of the economic recovery (not that the president should have much to worry about in the heavily blue bastion of RI). 

With Romney due in Warwick tomorrow, we recently invited Devin Driscoll, the leader of Obama’s Rhode Island campaign, to take part in an email interview. (His responses have been lightly edited for brevity.)

President Obama seems a lock to win Rhode Island, so what is the focus of your efforts? Will the Obama for America team in RI be assisting the campaign in NH and other battleground states?

We’re building the kind of grassroots organization that nobody has ever seen before. As we organize across Rhode Island and the country, we will continue to focus on expanding our volunteer base and discussing what is at stake in this election for middle class Americans. Our supporters know that we are at a make-or-break moment and President Obama knows that the only way to reclaim economic security for the middle class is to restore the basic values of balance and fairness that make our country great.

Over the next seven months our volunteers and supporters in Rhode Island and across the country will continue to work in support of the president’s reelection in a variety of ways, including reaching out to voters in nearby states.

Rhode Island’s economy continues to struggle even as other states are starting to fare better. Does that make it tougher to make your case here?

President Obama recognizes that our economy didn’t get where it is today overnight, and we won’t get out of it overnight. We’ve made progress, but we still have a lot of work left to do. We need to lay the foundation for a real recovery that has strong roots and a job-creating economy that’s built to last. That’s why the president is cutting taxes to reward work, investing in education to prepare young people with the skills they need to compete, and boosting American manufacturing so we can out-build the world.

How does this feel compared with 2008? Has it been tougher to get young people excited about the candidate?

Our campaign this year is a very different one than in 2008. We need to run a more organized, smarter and stronger campaign than we did four years ago. Despite those changes, this time around feels is a lot like our first race – one that was built on friends talking to friends, neighbors talking to neighbors. Our campaign is driven by volunteers who believe in President Obama and the values we share with him – a strong belief that together we can make this country better, and continue moving it forward.

Here in Rhode Island and across the Northeast, we’re working with young people and college students to prepare for November. In a few weeks we’ll have volunteers from across the region meet in Boston for a New England Youth Summit to discuss what’s at stake this election for young people and what they can do in their communities and on their campuses to help. In 2012 we need to protect the progress President Obama has made over the last four years – from repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to passing health care reform that allows young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26 to making college more affordable. Young people are fired up and ready to work in support of re-electing President Obama.

There was a New Yorker cover showing the president enjoying himself while watching the Republicans fight on TV. What’s your take-away from the GOP primary season?

One thing we’ve seen with all the Republican candidates is that the more voters get to know about them, the less they like what they see. No matter which candidate wins the Republican nomination, he will be among the least popular nominees in history.

Do you expect POTUS or FLOTUS to come to RI this year?

The president’s attention, focus and schedule are dedicated to doing the job the American people elected him to do – that’s why his supporters are so active here in Ocean State, getting the word out about what’s at stake this election and President Obama’s plan to out-innovate, out-education and out-build the rest of the world.

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