My fellow travelers and I had a little field trip today that was incredibly insightful into the cultures of a handful of the campaigns, including those of the three Democratic frontrunners. And, the differences in the office cultures are indicative of the stylistic differences of the candidates more generally. For a good piece on those differences, go here.
Read on the jump for more of our observations.
The purpose of our journey was to ascertain the best location to watch a caucus take place tomorrow night since we need a spot where both parties are caucusing (one of my pals needs to cover the Republicans tomorrow night while the other two of us need a Democratic location). All three Democratic headquarters are only a few yards apart in an office park district. Our first stop: the Edwards campaign. While they clearly didn’t want press wandering throughout the operation, it was a very open headquarters with the young staffers (average age about 25, including the senior staffers) going out of their way to help out despite their busy day. Indicative of just how permeable things were, we had a chance to have a brief chat with national campaign director David Bonior as he walked through. There was a sense of controlled chaos in Edwardsland.
The scene at Hillary Clinton headquarters could not have been more different. Because of the hostage situation a few weeks ago in New Hampshire, understandably there was security at the door. But, the real gatekeepers were just inside the door. As you walk in, a wall meets you and there is no getting past that wall if you lack a staff badge. It was clear we would only get the information we needed unless we had the correct person in the bureaucratic chain calling us back. I’d heard stories of volunteer and staff frustration with the bureaucratic morass that is the Clinton campaign. We got a taste of that in what is an incredibly controlled operation, not unlike the candidate herself.
A few doors down from Clinton HQ, the Obama campaign was right between the other two in the office style. The staff sits in a fairly tidy room but everyone is in the same room that lacks cubicles. There is definitely some gatekeeping going on, but the folks we needed to get the information from were right out front. While everyone was busy on their computers, none of the obvious chaos from the Edwards campaign was shown. Thus, the professionalism of Clinton combined with symbolic openness. That about sums up the three campaigns.
Next up: The Ron Paul and Huckabee campaigns.