PowerPlayer: Obama Campaign Director Devin Driscoll
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
This week’s PowerPlayer is Devin Driscoll, who is running President Obama’s re-election campaign in Rhode Island. The Providence College graduate was kind enough to sit down with GoLocalProv to chat about the work he’ll be doing over the next year.
1) You worked on President Obama's first campaign. Tell us about what you've been up to since then.
After the 2008 campaign, I went to work for True North Communications, a public, government and media relations firm in Providence. In the fall of 2009 I enrolled in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, from which I graduated with a Master of Public Policy degree this past May. In Minnesota I became active in the Democratic‐Farmer‐Labor (DFL) party, serving as a policy intern for then‐House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher’s gubernatorial campaign and as campaign manager for a city‐wide race in Saint Paul where I helped to elect the first LGBTQ woman in Saint Paul history.
2) The re‐election appears as though it will be much different. People are less enthusiastic about politics and seem to be much angrier in general. How do you plan to energize your base?
Rhode Islanders know President Obama has not shied away from the extraordinary challenges he faced during his first three years in office, and recognize the great strides forward we have made – working tirelessly to help rebuild and strengthen the middle class, enacting health care reform, addressing the systemic causes of the financial crisis, rebuilding America’s reputation abroad while ending the war in Iraq. The list goes on and on – and I can tell you from my experiences here on the ground, folks are already excited to talk about this administration’s accomplishments and enthusiastic about giving the President a second term to continue to build on this record of success.
3) Take us through a day in your life.
Obama for America is a grassroots campaign, so that’s where I spend most of my time. My goal is to build a strong volunteer organization, so I spend most of my day either meeting with volunteers one‐on one or talking with them on the phone. Our campaign’s mantra is “RESPECT. EMPOWER. INCLUDE. WIN” and it’s at the heart of our grassroots organizing. I work with volunteers to develop neighborhood teams in their own communities, and help to provide the tools to empower them to talk with friends and neighbors about the president’s positive vision for winning the future.
I talk with an incredibly diverse group of Rhode Islanders who are excited to get involved in this campaign. One day I am talking to students, another to seniors, and another to people interested in the environment. While their backgrounds vary, my work is all about explaining how they can get involved in supporting the president and taking action to talk to their neighbors.
4) How is Rhode Island a better place now than it was four years ago?
Rhode Island is a terrific place. Having moved here when I came to PC as a freshman in 2004, I was amazed at all the Ocean State has to offer – especially in the arts and cultural institutions. The growth of Providence as a regional hub for a “knowledge economy,” and the related renewal we are seeing in the Jewelry District and the redevelopment of the old I‐195 site, is particularly exciting.
In the fifth grade, I organized a mock presidential election after reading my parents’ voter guide, which outlined the platforms of both the Clinton and Dole campaigns, as well as pro and con arguments for a number of ballot initiatives. We also added some questions of our own. President Clinton won reelection, and my fellow students voted overwhelmingly to extend recess to four hours a day. I still have the tally sheet somewhere in my old bedroom.
Role Model(s): Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale.
Favorite Restaurant: Local 121
Best Beach: Heceta Beach in Florence, OR (where I always went as a kid)
Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: “Becoming Justice Blackmun” by Linda Greenhouse.
Advice for the Next Devin Driscoll: Work hard. The scar tissue you earn when you’re young will serve you better than any other experience.
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