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Sign up and learn more at Curiosity Stream Dotcom. Everybody is David Plouffe, welcome to Campaign HQ. Well, we are now 10 days past the election. Joe Biden is going to seize three hundred six electoral votes, get the most votes in presidential campaign history, have a bigger popular vote margin than Barack Obama had in twenty twelve and one of the biggest in recent times. So really a stellar outcome. I know a little closer on election night than where we are today.
But Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and their campaign team deserve enormous credit for overcoming strong Trump turnout, stronger support amongst Trump, amongst different demographics of Latino voters, and some pockets of Trump's margins in rural areas maintained in some blue collar areas he was able to maintain. And again, he drove strong turnout. So I don't know much wind up today. By the way, for those of you, though, worried about this bullshit, about a coup or I mean, listen, it's appalling.
It's reprehensible. It's historically irresponsible to see Trump and all of his weak, sniveling enablers in the US Senate and in his Cabinet play along with a farce that somehow Trump might have won the election. It's horrifying. And if it sets a new standard, I'm not sure our country will survive three or four more of these. But at the end of the day, Joe Biden is going to be our president. He will take the oath of office. He will build a great team.
He announced a great chief of staff, Ron Klain, this week, and he will help us rebuild this country. But I want to spend time today with the woman who led this effort. She's been on this podcast before. And I know you all learned from her back then. She was on most recently back when she started running Joe Biden's campaign in the spring, just as the pandemic really began to intensify. But she has done heroic work. The country in the world owes a debt of gratitude.
And I really want to turn the mic over to her so we can learn from her how Joe Biden won this campaign really in such dominating fashion.
So I hope you enjoy this conversation with General Jen O'Malley.
Dillon, welcome back to Campaign HQ. Thanks. Glad to be here. Well, you now join the list of successful presidential campaign managers. You're the second woman to lead such an effort. First Democrat. You're the only one of that club to ever do it during a pandemic. You're the only one to do it running a largely virtual campaign. You're the only one to do it where you had basically state sponsored voter suppression the entire time. So, you know, for my reading of history, you won the most successful campaign in the history of America and you did it under the most challenging circumstances.
So a grateful world. Thanks you. Thank you.
Well, I am glad to be here and so grateful myself to have President elect Biden and a vice president elect here. As you know, I couldn't imagine honestly better leaders to take us forward in this time of crisis. And the campaign team, for all the things you just listed off, we really just had this amazing team of people, some who started from day one and carried through such a long and grueling primary season to the folks that joined for the general election and to be able to work together as a team and lean on each other and be there for each other while they are all going through a pandemic themselves, but never really having any opportunity to see each other physically or lean on each other physically was just a testament to this team and to the folks that just worked so hard to get us here.
So I'm just so grateful to them.
Well, it sure was. And I'm eager to get into states and voters and demographics with you. But I want to focus on the team. I mean, you just mentioned, you know, a lot of people who are working together, particularly if they came in the last six months or so, never met each other personally. Just talk about you've managed a lot through your life and career.
Well, so you're you managing your seeing your team, then those senior leaders having their own teams. Like, what were some of the challenges that doing this virtually presented? Was there any silver linings? Just talk a little bit about the people, because I always remind people, you know, if you watch television shows or movies about politics, it seems like people like you, it's all big strategy and hanging out with the candidate. But at the heart, it's like managing people.
You know, everything flows from that. So just talk a little bit about that.
Yeah. You know, I think the managing people part is so important. And frankly, I'm not sure we as a business do a great job in politics, training to to managers. We often promote people because they are super talented, but we don't give them the training and tools to manage because we exist for a short amount of time. So when I came in, my first day in March was the same day we asked everyone to work remotely. And I never had the opportunity to meet with people and let them look me in the eye and.
And know that we all want to be on a team together, so I was very conscious of the importance of over communicating and trying to create communication on a regular basis because we didn't have the opportunity to go jump into a meeting and or walk by someone's office and be like, oh, hey, I meant to ask you this. So we started from that first week, all staff meetings every week, something that normally you do once a month. And it was like our home base for the campaign.
We did it on Zoome. By the end, we had thousands and thousands of people on there. We tried to have special guests and make it fun, but it was really kind of a reminder that we all were in this together and I thought that was really important. But we also spent time I know we did this and in 12, but we had executive management coaches working with all of our state teams and leadership and our campaign leadership, something that I was so valuable to me when I was an early manager and something we really prioritize this time.
And then we really tried to do whatever we could to be as transparent to the team as possible and communicate and acknowledge that our team was living through the same thing that this this country was living through. And we had to understand how hard it was to live through George Floyd and be a staff of color who has had to do that time and again, but then also be on the front lines of the work. And we tried to create the space for people to to be able to acknowledge that this was really tough stuff, that we didn't always have the tools that we needed, especially because we were going through this pandemic.
But I think it also helped us have the empathy as a campaign like the vice president has, and I think is one that excuse me, the president elect want to do that like 50 times. But his leadership is is one that is is so strong and understanding what people are going through. And I think because the campaign was living through how to communicate differently and support each other differently and survive differently. Right. Organizers living with their parents or being like in a studio apartment with other folks, they didn't know that well because they didn't expect to ever be at home, really allowed us to, I think, reach deeper, but also rethink the things that we thought we knew about how to reach people because we were all living through it together.
It's so amazing to just listen to you, particularly like the day you started. You went all virtual. So you led this campaign and had to get people to trust in you and the mission all virtually. It's remarkable. And I had one of your field organizers from Michigan on a few weeks ago who was organizing at the Ann Arbor area from New York State. It was just heroic work. So I want to come back to some of the tactics of the campaign.
But let's go to the map and the voter.
So you were consistent, particularly in the closing weeks of the campaign. It is going to be closer than the polls suggest. And knowing you, I knew that wasn't just spin. You believed that.
But I'm curious now, as the dust settled in Arizona just got called officially by the rest of the networks last night. So congratulations on that. You guys are on your way to three and six electoral votes, huge popular vote win. Not a particularly close race, the presidential race, but you did have some close states. Some won, some lost. I'm just curious, as you look at it, what happened sort of from a state standpoint, exactly as you expected, where did you guys do a little bit better?
Where did Trump surprise you with some of his strength? Just as you know, there's a lot we don't know because we haven't gotten all the data and we have an opinion to the voter file. But I'm just curious, you know, my guess is it probably unfolded exactly as you expected. But I'm curious, as you look at it now, kind of what jumps out at you as like, yeah, that's exactly what I thought would happen. Kind of the margin.
And where were you surprised? Yeah.
You know, I mean, I think, first of all, our strategy all along was to get to 270. I know that's kind of an obvious statement, but there were a lot of days that people were looking for and hoping for. And I understand the thinking behind that, but wishing for a landslide and then four hundred electoral votes. And so we really had to stay incredibly disciplined as a campaign to make sure we didn't lose sight of what we thought was our best path to 270.
But we also believed that we could have realistically multiple pathways to 270 that we didn't have to rely on just the blue wall, although we knew that was our easiest and most likely path, but also required us to do real work to get there. We could not take it for granted at all, but that we also felt like we needed to be able to put as much in play as possible because of the flexibility we thought was still in the electorate.
Understanding what happened in 16 now, not over learning those lessons, but that the race shifted. We saw some very late in the game. We definitely saw some very big fundamental differences between 20 and six. But we felt like there was more opportunity in place for us to not just lock down the blue wall, but to expand it, to look at other opportunities. And I think especially because you have the president elect, who I think built a pretty broad, obviously bipartisan coalition that brought across the board growth, that really opened up a lot of doors for us pretty early on.
And so I think for us, we knew election night was going to have the possibility of being long because we understood the reporting and that the Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania is going to we're going to be coming in later. We knew the swing states of Florida and North Carolina, for instance. We're going to be much tighter. We just knew that all along. And we had only seen them really set in the margin of error the entire time we saw that we were ahead.
But we also knew that there was there was strength for where Trump was. And we weren't surprised by that. Of course, we love to have seen him lose by more. But at the end of the day, I think we weren't surprised by the tightness of Florida. We weren't surprised by Miami-Dade. I know a lot of people were, but we knew our numbers in particular with the Cuban-American community, was a place where Trump had done work for a long time.
And also we were susceptible to a lot of misinformation that we were really aggressive on, I think more aggressive that than 16, but was a little bit tougher train for us. I had been saying from the beginning that I was bullish on Arizona and thank God today Arizona is is finally in the books. But we knew that we were going to continue to close pretty tightly there. Obviously, Arizona, a different state because it's 80 plus percent mail in ballot there, as historically has been the case.
But we'll probably end up about seven thousand votes or so. So that got a little tighter than what we had anticipated coming into Election Day. But we still expect it to have it. And I think the other big state that really came on strong, one of the main states that I would say we saw some big movement in that last month was Georgia and Georgia. You and I have talked about Georgia for so long. I I have always been a bit of a Georgia skeptic, in part because I think it's a really tough state.
And we saw it as a real path. We had it on our expansion path, but we saw a positive movement. We saw a real opportunity on the early vote. We saw heavy in-person. We saw turnout really getting beyond even what we had expected, which was pretty high turnout across the country as well. And we saw a real opportunity for growth even as we closed it out. It's why we said President Obama there on the Monday before the election, and that was not initially in our plan.
You saw him go to some of our other states. So I think that was a big mover. We're in a hand recount right now, but we're up fourteen thousand votes and change and we will end up winning that state. But that one, I think as honestly as you looked at twenty, twenty four, it's going to be those two states in particular has changed the map for what I think we'll be playing in the next presidential.
I want to talk to about the map going forward in a minute. So, yeah, no, I mean, that's you deserve an enormous amount of credit for staying focused on 270 and not trying to chase your four hundred electoral vote. I know you've got a lot of criticism for that, but that was smart. But you were also open to it looks like you really invested more in Georgia by the end than you were planning to both money.
But also you had the vice president, Joe Biden, down there. Kamala Harris, as you mentioned, I remember getting a call from Obama and the team saying they want us to go to Georgia. Michael, Jency, something there you should go to Georgia like. It's that's exciting. And so I'm curious, as I look at the one thing you and I have talked about over the months was just the belief that Trump would drive huge turnout. And that's one thing.
Polls are not great at capturing what's going to happen on turnout. And he did that. Now, you guys were able to do what you needed to do and then obviously add to your margins in some blue collar and suburban areas. One thing I'm curious, as you look at the Trump events the last couple of weeks, I was convinced they were hurting him because the images were like the corvids on the rise. He's out there making fun of the pandemic.
No one's wearing masks like it's got to be hurting them. But then you look at the turnout for the most part, he was going to smaller communities or at least places where the coverage would really reach in. And it probably did help him in turn. I'm just curious if you have any it may be too early to know, but kind of any evaluation of that, because I think I might have been really wrong about what was happening out there.
Yeah, you know, I, I think there's more to understand there. Certainly all along, Trump strategy had been to the base. I mean, that was clear from everything he said and did. I, too, though, believed both from polling, but also just from being practical, that those rallies would be harmful to him because people were getting it and they they were getting them from those events and the stories kept mounting. Now, obviously, there's a bit of a hindsight on that.
So maybe the depth of connection wasn't as clear to voters. But there is no doubt that he created energy and excitement. He had people around him. He sort of went to his one note of what he would do and what he would say and get people riled up. And I think that that clearly was their main strategy. Right. They didn't have the money to go up on TV at the level that we would have expected. They were not playing the states as broadly as you would expect an incumbent president.
And so it is clear that they used his travel as, frankly, the tip of the spear for their entire strategy. And look, I think people saw other people there. You see energy and excitement. That's always been a big part of closing campaigns. It's one of the harder parts of doing this and a pandemic where we just couldn't do that. We refused to do that. And so the tens of thousands of people that the president elect would have gotten in events just weren't on the table available to us.
And so at the end of the day, it is definitely clear that he was able to rally his base and beyond and go deeper and some of these places that he had to begin with. I think the difference, of course, is that we went bigger in our areas and then we cut in so significantly into margins kind of across the board that really prevented him from being able to go beyond that base and capture a whole new category of people that he persuaded.
He just went in deeper into his own pool. And there's no doubt that those rallies had an impact in that.
Well, I think both. I think both of your approaches work for you, right? Joe Biden's approach of following the medical experts, being careful, not putting anybody risk that really health both with base and persuadable voters.
And this is a tragic statement to say, but kind of trumping reckless helped him. This holiday season, you can be sure more people will be mailing stuff than ever before. That means the post office is going to be busy. You don't have time for that usually. So Stamps.com brings the post office and now UPS shipping right to your computer, mail and ship anything from the convenience of your home or office, whether your small office sending on invoices and online seller for filling orders during this record setting holiday season, or even a giant warehouse sending thousands of packages a day, Stamps.com can handle it all with ease.
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Stamps.com never go to the post office again. So let's talk about Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, certainly for you, and you were keen on that since the very beginning, as you said, to some extent, North Carolina and Florida, then you had a Georgia like you're basically running the equivalent of governor's races in those states.
But let's look, just to educate people listing about Pennsylvania, you guys were there for Pennsylvania was kind of like, what, 12 Ohio was to us back in 12. Right. You're just there all the time. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, surrogates, you got tons of staff. Just tell our listeners as a campaign manager kind of what it's like to to OK, here's our win number in Pennsylvania.
Here's what Trump's doing. Here's what we have to do here is we see opportunities just kind of reveal a little bit about the the strategy and tactics that go into winning a state, which it's very clear, Jen, you believed that that was they were all important.
Their children don't have favorites, but that was the one you had to win. And it was clear from everything you did that you realized that it was closer than some of the polls, because I remember people saying, I don't think I comment on this people.
I can't believe Pennsylvania is down to four or five points. It's like, guys, it's Pennsylvania. Like we're probably not going to win it by four or five points. It's going to be close. And clearly, you knew that and you treated it like you like running for governor of Pennsylvania you knew was going to be super close.
But talk a little bit. Just use Pennsylvania as an example, if you could, about what goes into winning a battleground state.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Pennsylvania was the most important state, I think, in a lot of ways. And it you really could see that if you paid attention to where we were going and then how we closed out the race. And we were very conscious that we had a unique opportunity in Pennsylvania. But we also knew that we had to go earn it. Right, that Joe Biden is as much of Delaware as he is of Pennsylvania. But what we realized early on was that people knew about the president elect, but they didn't have a depth of knowledge about him leading through the recovery and the type of leadership and the resilience that he personally had faced in his own life and bounced back from which really, I think, articulated a lot of what the country was going through.
So we knew pretty early on we had work to do to go make our case and that we thought Pennsylvania would have outsize importance and it was not a foregone conclusion that it was going to be us running away from it. And in fact, of the blue states, Pennsylvania was our data showed it behind the other two. And so we really as as Mitch Stewart said in one of the final weeks, as as we were huddling, that we had to build a moat around Pennsylvania and we really tried to do that.
We did that in particular with the programming and the staff. We obviously did that with travel. And frankly, it was a little bit more convenient for us. We didn't have to get in a plane and getting in planes was tough during covid. And so that made it a little bit better for us. But we weren't willing to just do the things that people would typically do. Just go to Philly, just go to Pittsburgh. We knew we had to increase our margin in these other counties.
And northeastern P.A., the president elect is very proud that we went all the precincts and we we worked for that.
But he went to Erie, a place that Trump had won, that we have won back by small margins. And so we knew it was actually going to be much tighter. We knew it was going to be smaller margins. We were we are focused not we looked at how we ended it in eight and 12 and 16, and we weren't going to just do Philly play, although we did with senator with now vice president elect Harris and John Legend and had this great big blowout event.
But at the same time, we had the president elect and Western with Lady Gaga doing something similar. And we had all four of our principal candidates spend the Monday before the election in Pennsylvania, which is a pretty unusual model, but was really to reflect what we felt like we needed to do to just push every last vote possible and to ensure that basically every corner of that state knew how hard we were working to earn their support.
No, it was brilliant. I mean, I hope people study what you did in Pennsylvania for a long time because it's a model about what it takes to win a battleground state that you have at the top of your tipping point.
Listen, what's interesting, Joe, when you look at the data that's come in so far, so I'm not talking about exits. Right. But but actual results. Pennsylvania is a good example where Philly turnout, what's going to be about what it was in 16, maybe. Maybe a little higher. But so, listen, I always thought, like, there's this, I think, a really unhelpful debate about to win states or districts that are tough.
Is it base is a persuasion like you needed them all. By definition, you need to get into your opponent's margin a little bit. You need to win as many persuadable voters. You know, Joe Biden won, I think, the moderate vote almost two to one. Which is such an important reason you want and you need to drive up turnout in your base and you need the activism and enthusiasm to to do all that. So we need everybody under the tent.
But you look at Pennsylvania, you mentioned Yuri swung to Trump. Biden got it back. Biden cut down margins in places like Luzerne did really well in counties like North Hampton. Obviously, all the counties outside of Pennsylvania, the Montgomery's in the Delawares, but also the bucks.
So to me, you look at Pennsylvania and that was the promise of the Biden candidacy. Now, Trump held on to his rural margins for the most part. Then he actually increased turnout. And we'll talk about that in a minute what that means going forward. But you look at that map in Pennsylvania and Joe Biden did what he always said he would do, which is he'd be able to win back some of those Obama Trump voters do better and be more competitive in blue collar counties and, you know, blow out the suburban margins.
And that's what you guys were able to do.
Yeah, no, I mean, exactly. And I think that that takes a good strategy. It takes being mindful of the fact that we were all looking at public polling that was just in time and again, overstating what our numbers were there. We knew that they weren't we weren't going to run away with it. But it also meant that from the beginning of the general election, we made no assumptions about just support. We called it persuasion, which is kind of a ridiculous thing.
But the combination of mobilization, of persuasion, that there was not like a false choice, that we had one group of voters that we just had to worry about is our targets. We actually had to go earn the vote, make the case and do it in a very clear way. And we also had some of the tactics, and I know we'll get to that, that weren't on the table in the same way they were before, which just required us to really kind of think differently about how we reach folks and and to do it in a way, you always want to go super deep in areas.
But we also had to go incredibly wide across the whole state in order to come up with the margins and to prevent against some kind of turnout like we saw. And so I think you saw that and the programming we did, but also and the way we tried to reach people and our belief that covid was the driver of so much of the vote this time and reaching people through the lens of the economy, through the lens of what's happening in their states and their communities.
And that was tough in places like Pennsylvania, where a lot of the state, I think probably like everyone else in the country, was struggling with how to handle covid. And what what are the state guidelines, which were a little bit tighter in that state than in other places. So we really had to kind of juggle a number of elements, some of which were in our control, some of which not, but really through the lens of going out there and finding a way to make our direct case and not relying on any assumptions about what turnout margins we could get to versus what he would get to.
Well, let's talk in terms of what he got to do just to underscore what a remarkable victory this was that you would you know, I look at what Trump did basically in every battleground state as what George Bush did in 04 in Ohio against Kerry, right. Where Kerry put up hundreds of thousands of more votes than Gore did and still lost because Bush found and registered and turned out every single senator. Right, right. Conservative in the state. You know, look at Wisconsin.
Trump wins it by a million four hundred thousand votes and 16 gets a million six hundred thousand votes, which in Wisconsin is a huge increase you guys were able to get. I just want people to understand and we'll see and we'll talk about this again. Like, is this unique to Trump? Is this surge of Republican turnout going to be something we see going forward? But the degree of difficulty here you guys had to deal with was extraordinary. Now, particularly given some of the tactical challenge we talked about earlier, some of the challenges of managing people in a pandemic.
Talk about the ground game. So you had organizers all over these battleground states doing mostly virtual organizing, relational organizing. You did some canvassing at the end list. But but clearly, in a presidential campaign or any campaign could be state legislator, you want every tool available to you. Right. And your toolbox was not full. You tried to you know, I think in many ways you were able to overcome the lack of physical in-person organizing. But talk about some of the challenges that you have presented.
Yeah, totally. I mean, so first of all, you know, at the end of the day, we did execute in person. This was not the answer was not a digital only strategy, but we obviously couldn't do it in the same way that we always had. And we had to really break everything down and determine what was most important and then figure out how to build it back up again and a covid reality where people could be safe. And one of the things that I think was often lost when people are talking about tactics and, you know, are we going to do this stuff in person or not, is that was just like our decision as a campaign.
I mean, it was our volunteers and our and the voters and their. It levels and how do we create environments where people could do this in a safe way that could be trained enough but allowed for us to understand it had to look differently, not just state by state, but within communities in states based on the timing and the ebbs and flows during the campaign of where covid was. And that really kind of challenged us to we always say we run customized approaches.
This isn't a national campaign, but we truly had to execute on that from a state by state and county by county level. What we honed in on and what was so important to me was not measuring the volume of our activity, but the quality of our engagement. And I think that that's something that really is just fundamental to how we need to move forward, which is it is great. Yes, there is a value in trying to reach someone, but there is a much higher value in actually reaching someone.
And so in the very early days of the spring when we were in the first throes of of covid, we were reaching people at that point just to check in on them, not even having a political discussion with this idea that we would start building a foundation to kind of show up for folks by having some engagement, but not not have it be through the lens of are you with us or not? What do you think about the race? You're going to vote for us.
We go volunteer. And then we kind of expanded that out and we said, OK, how can we reach people? Contact rates were far better through phones and texting. So we really honed in on the conversation itself and we really honed in on what you and I have always believed, which is relational organizing is so critical, especially in a time of pandemic when people are kind of consolidating their activities to the places that they have to go to, the people that they know, and they're losing some of the broader engagement.
So how do we reflect that in our organizing? We we stood up in September, our door to door program, our little drops. We stopped having those campaign offices. We had supply depot places where you drive. When you get let you get your walk map, you get a training virtually and you go out and execute on that. So the notes that we would leave on little drops were really pretty important to say this isn't a piece of mail.
This is someone that did show up at your house. And my name is Jen and here's why I'm supporting Joe Biden. So those kind of touches, we felt like we're very important. And then we also tried to spend a lot of time reaching people we couldn't reach on the phone or people we couldn't reach at their homes. We did a lot of online programs, click to messenger programs that stimulated that engagement online, stuff that I'm really proud of and allowed us to reach hundreds of thousands of voters that we couldn't in any other way.
And then we wanted to make sure that whatever we are doing from an organizing and tactics standpoint, we had the umbrella overhang of an incredibly customized advertising program that amplified our ability to reach people. Of course, you have the traditional stuff, heavily digital, heavily TV, but also trying to look for those high impact placements. I'm trying to ensure that we were customizing our advertising in our content, both created by the communities that we were trying to reach, everything from the stuff we did with Animal Crossing and versus to try it with with Senator Harris to reach an audience that are not traditionally political thinking about advertising to gamers and showing up with multi dialect Spanish language in in Florida, for instance.
So a lot of that we kind of tend to use over and over again. I think they took far more importance for us because we were trying to really break through and reach people in a way that connected and that required us to to facilitate some quality engagement that we wouldn't be able to do in the same ways we typically would with multiple touch points in person over the campaign. And even though we did end up doing massive scale, I think we had just in that last weekend alone, like five million conversations.
We had five hundred thousand volunteers out the last couple of days. So we did get to a place over the fall where I think we really did tap into the traditional stuff that we did, but we really had to rethink it and build it back up and determine what was most important for us in order to have that reach, because we weren't willing to do to just ignore the fact that we were in a pandemic when we were trying to do some of this stuff.
Well, it just makes my head spin. I mean, you know, you basically built a startup presidential campaign as a startup, except it ramps up much more quickly than one in the private sector in and out of business quickly. But then you had to completely undergo change management, you know, about. How you run a campaign, how you reach people, it's just remarkable. Recently, I've been checking out the brand new course, white collar criminal law explained on the great courses.
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But this limited time offer won't last and it's only available through this special. You Eurail go now to the great courses plus dot com campaign HQ. Remember the great courses plus dotcom slash campaign HQ. I'm curious, John, not just about the tactics, but how you were able to get everybody to buy in to a different way of organizing and ultimately then we are going to start doing more in person. It was just so volatile. And again, I think a great example of your leadership.
So one of the things that's challenging in a presidential campaign is when you announce your running mate now you have another principle. They've got to build a team. You've got two schedules and different sets of interviews. And so for all the benefits of running they brings you, it can also be challenging. It looks, at least from the outside, that you're basically it was seamless, the integration of Kamala Harris and her team talk a little bit about how that went and the value she brought to you during the campaign.
Yeah, you know, I remember you and I talking about what it means to go from one principal to two and how to think about that. And it is made easy when you have a great choice and you have a great ticket and partnership. That was clear between the two of them from the beginning. And I think that that just set the tone for the whole campaign, not to mention and there will be days ahead to continue to focus on this.
But the history making nature of of the vice president elect's tenure on this ticket is is just so profound. And it is is almost lost a little bit because of how long this race has played out and everything that's going on with Trump and what he's not doing. But I think that that is really something that was so important to the president elect from the beginning and so important to find this partner and a partner that he always said would be the last person with them to make a decision.
And it was clear from the beginning that that was that was Senator Harris. And so we really took our cues from that. At the same time, we did have, as you said, how do you know? As you know, you're standing up a team and you're putting together a program in place for whomever that nominee is, not really knowing who that will be until the last minute. And then flowing into understanding that, again, some of the basic things that we would be doing, we need to look differently.
We were able to do our announcement in Wilmington, Delaware. So we had a little bit of time to kind of merge the teams and spend some social distance, appropriate time together under a mask. But but at the end of the day, I think that we worked very hard to just be very clear about what our plan and strategy was. And then the vice president elect was just such an incredible asset to the campaign, really on all those big moments, but also on all the small moments.
And having the benefit of having a ticket is just the coverage that you're able to to have across the country to reach more voters. And we really saw that play out. And one of the things that obviously for us, because we didn't travel at the same clip that we would in a non Koven environment where we'd be going to maybe three states in a day and doing that day in and day out. And so you're going back to three, four times to these markets.
We actually didn't have that opportunity. So we maybe had one or two heads over the entire fall in a market and we had to make sure that we had maximum impact there, that we were really going as deep as possible with local interviews to remarks and speaking to the issues that care there. But also, as we talked about earlier, not being able to reach from a volume standpoint the people there physically. So having the senator out there and really being able to reach into these communities and I think reflect back to women, to women of color, to young people.
Just an excitement about the historic nature of of her role here was really important to us, was such an important mobilizing element. But also made at the end of the day, really felt seamless, honestly, because of the relationship and the strength of that relationship from the beginning between the president elect and the vice president elect.
Well, that bodes well for what's to come next, which I want to talk about that for a minute. So from your vantage point, you've now seen Joe Biden and Kamala Harris up close. The campaign is not the White House, but it's still a pressure situation. I think they both had the added burden of not just trying to win the campaign, but also model good leadership and good personal decisions around the pandemic. Just talk about and I think that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will enter a situation the more challenging the Barack Obama did back in 2009 probably have to go all the way back to FDR.
So and they're up to it clearly. But I'm just you had a unique vantage point to watch them talk a little bit. About what you think they're going to bring to these positions that should give us all as much confidence as we can, given the challenges they're going to inherit?
Well, there's no doubt and frankly, you know, I think we as a party, we're blessed to have such tremendous candidates running in the primary. But I couldn't imagine a better ticket or the absolute right leaders for this moment. And what we're facing and certainly with the president elect, there's nobody who is more equipped to understand how to lead through a crisis, having done it before and doing it in a way that is very tangible and clear, not in the abstract, but in the reality of what people are going through.
I mean, I often felt like in the campaign that the president elect had to speak with the voice of a president while he was running for president because that voice was gone with Donald Trump when it was addressing covid in the early days when we crossed that awful tragic milestone of one hundred thousand people dead from covet. It wasn't Trump ever speaking to heal or unify the country. It was always the vice president. And so I think you can take a lot from that leadership and the focus that both the president elect and the vice president elect have had on what's at stake on staying focused not just on the rhetoric of a campaign, but the solutions.
And you heard him speak in particular. I think it was like a week before the election about what he would do even during transition to stay focused on covid, to remind people that there is a path forward to be to be hopeful. Right. We're all going into this more incredibly difficult time with the winter and what we're seeing with these astronomical numbers. But that he didn't even have to wait, that there was a path that people could be hopeful for, that it's going to take some time, but we can get there.
And I think really, honestly, that's what you're going to see in their partnership together and in a trust in each other to carry forth on all of these key issues, because as the president elect said often, this is not a one crisis situation. We have multiple crises that we are facing and it's going to require laser focus across the board. And I think that's where that partnership is going to grow. So I really do believe in the leadership that we saw in the campaign really reflects that kind of leadership that I think that the two of them will continue to carry forward.
And if you just look at the tremendous responses of world leaders to the conversations that are being had now, just a sense of hopefulness and gratefulness that America can return to that important role that has always carried in the world. I think that's going to really allow this country to turn the corner quickly once they take office.
The reaction across the world has been so striking and so uplifting. They really want us to be back. No, I mean, listen, they are when they it's usually is. So last Saturday, that amazing event in Wilmington, first of all, and Kamala Harris came out. The history just struck you. Then Joe Biden comes out and it was so exciting. But for me, the most just the the idea of seeing them in the building, in the Oval Office, in the Situation Room, on Marine One and Donald Trump never being in those precincts again is so exciting because they are going to be handed kind of a proverbial tray of shit sandwiches when they enter.
But I think these two people are as suited as anybody ever been to handle them. And so but that's what gets me excited, is to see them. You know, the first time there's a meeting in The Situation Room, there's Joe Biden at the head of the table. Right. Meetings with congressional leaders. And it's the two of them. And it's just going to return not just to normalcy, but it gives you hope because it's people who are problem solvers who are going to really try and solve problems for the entire country, not pit us against each other.
And actually, as much as his rhetoric, I think has been a soothing balm and her rhetoric has been, it's going to be the actual day to day execution of the presidency that reminds people what we once had and we can have again.
So Gend, on the Electoral College, it's always important to remind people it is not a static thing, states move in and out some more competitive, then they're not so much red, then they're not. Some are blue then they're not. I think it's fair to say that there's, you know, more now about the states of our country from a political standpoint in the Electoral College than anyone alive.
So you are the preeminent expert. And I'd just be curious, not not so much like a Biden Harris head on, but just as someone who now knows this better than anyone in the world, you know, when you think about the next not just for years, but for eight, 12 years, kind of where should Democrats be concerned? Where opportunities you mentioned Arizona and Georgia, hopefully they become the new North Carolina and I'm sorry, the new Colorado.
Virginia, that'll take a while just.
And what's important to me is what should flow from your assessment is then what do we need to do to maximize where we have opportunities and where we can work on our challenges? Right. Year round organizing year round investment. It's clear to me is money shouldn't be an issue. There's enough people out there that with a good plan in Georgia, a good plan in Arizona, a good plan in Texas will fund it. Then we need people to do the work.
But just tell us where you see things going and what we need to do to maximize our position.
Yeah, you know, I have thought about this a bit and obviously we'll think about it more. But, you know, look at the last 20 years. I think generally speaking, the map has been similar with a couple of states, as you mentioned, Virginia and Colorado coming on. And those those show no signs of dimming in their support for Democrats. In fact, they were two of our strongest states and just reinforced the strength that that Democrats have in those two states.
But know, it does feel to me like we are headed to a map in twenty, twenty four and beyond. That is very different than the one we've been traveling on over the course of the last several presidential years. And I think that's just I think that's hopeful. I think that doesn't mean that other states aren't as important. Obviously we played in Iowa and Ohio and really tried to push and saw some opportunity there and we weren't able to get it over the finish line.
But I do think when you're looking at Georgia, when you're looking at Texas, there is real opportunity. When you take a look at the shifting of the electorate overall, young people, the strength of the younger generations are are just continuing to grow both in size and scope, but also getting politically active. I think that the president elect and vice president elect were able to really turn on some strong youth support and growth. And we're going to continue to see that as well as the demographic changes that I think really require us to make sure we do have nimbleness when it comes to these states.
And I said earlier, I had always been a bit of a Georgia skeptic because starting in 08, we came, we tried it, we pushed for it. And we we always sort of had to close it off as a pathway towards the end because the numbers weren't there. I think you still have to be smart and strategic and no base as you think through this because, yes, the money is there, but it doesn't require us to make sure that we're putting our finger on the scale about how we target and how we think through that.
But we can't close pathways without really trying to push and explore them. And I do think I had the luxury of working for Stacey Abrams in 18. I think there is there is no mistake that that energy that that what happened in that race, both and her not getting over the threshold, but also what Kemp did to try to prevent people from participating had real impact on what happened in twenty twenty. And that's organizational its leadership. It is maintaining that support.
I'd argue that for Florida, too, and maybe Florida is going to move to be more of a relic of the past, although knowing Florida the way I do, it always finds its way to try to be the center of presidential politics. But it requires tending to it requires showing up for voters on and on. And that's really tough in these big states. And frankly, Florida doesn't get that kind of treatment on a regular basis that we have seen in other places.
So I think that there is real excitement when you look at Texas, Tarrant County, just the kind of growth and support, obviously, what better was able to do and 18. But it's going to take continuing to push. And also and I think this is fundamental, making no assumptions about types of voters that are just going to be with us. I think the Latino vote is a place where there was real strength for the president elect and a number of places, but also a number of places where Cuban-Americans in Florida, Trump made real inroads, where we're learning about parts of Texas, where the president was very strong.
Other places we went to a. Well, it's at our peril to just think of these groups as monoliths without really understanding the differences and speaking to those differences, that's always from a Electoral College map standpoint, treating these states uniquely. But we've got to go even deeper and do that at the county level and community level and doing in an ongoing way so that politics like we have to repair what Donald Trump has done. But it didn't start with Donald Trump kind of creating the sense that government is not good, politics is bad.
There's a lot of work to remind people the good of being a participant in this process, not just in voting, but in using your voice. And I think that that is the path forward. But we've got to go make the case and then empower people to believe that they have a voice in all of this and it isn't for somebody else. And it can start at a local level with whether you're a volunteer or you want to run for office or you just want to learn more that that has so much value.
And we as a political class have to do more to make it easier for people to show up for themselves in this process and see themselves in this process.
That's brilliant advice. And listen, my view is whether it's twenty four, twenty eight, if the year round organizing isn't happening along the border or in Miami-Dade, you know, you should think twice about contesting it. Right. Because if that work doesn't get done, I am curious. And listen, I think so much of the media coverage of politics focuses on Democratic weaknesses in the electorate. And there's plenty of places where we have outsized strength, suburban areas that were close and exurban areas where Joe Biden did extremely well.
But do you think that what we saw in Miami-Dade, along the border in Texas, where to your point, there was a strong Hispanic support for the vice president in states like Arizona, Nevada? But we also saw in some rural African-American counties where there's a heavy population like in the Carolinas, Trump did pretty well as well.
I mean, is this unique to Trump? How much of it is about rural and non college educated black and Hispanic voters? I'm just curious. And if we just don't know, that's fine. But I'm just curious if you have a sense of that.
I think it is hard to overstate the uniqueness of Donald Trump. I mean, I think he exacerbated foundations that have been created by Republican administrations previously and candidates. And it's hard to know. Right. Like I always thought that in this election cycle, if we had a more traditional candidate running a more traditional campaign and we saw them try to get more traditional towards the end with advertising and speaking on the economy and so forth, but that that was always just generally overturned by the his voice out there.
But my my gut was. If we had a more traditional campaign we were up against, it might be more challenging and it would be more similar to how we'd experienced campaigns previously. But obviously because of Trump and because of the way he communicated, he was able to create this turnout with his base at a level that I'm not sure a more traditional campaign would. It certainly wouldn't be authentic to him. And I think that's probably underneath the surface of this, what we always have known, which is authentic candidates, candidates that both lead and run and communicate and campaign honestly to who they are, always stronger at the end of the day, because people can see that and feel that.
I think that you will have some real question coming out of this. What happens next? Obviously, he's talking about running in twenty, twenty four. I can't even tell and I won't even think about that now. But it it does feel to me a real challenge for the Republican Party to determine what their next step is. There is no doubt that Joe Biden built a coalition that also included moderate Republicans and included suburban women and included cutting off margins, as you were saying, exurban communities, places that we had not been as successful previously.
And that is that is certainly because it was Joe Biden and his leadership in particular, but it was also because it was not Donald Trump and that we got that support. So I think they're going to have a pretty heavy reckoning to navigate through. I would be hard pressed to believe that his voice and and support doesn't continue in some way, shape or form moving forward. What that actually means for more moderate voters, suburban voters, suburban women is a real question, I think, on whether that type of politics is politics that will garner new support that we obviously saw.
He couldn't do this time.
Right? Well, I think the general point you talked about earlier with persuasion, what was the term you used? I never heard it before. Yeah, I love suasion of persuasion, but also just. No, I mean, we can assume anyone is with us. Like, we've got to treat every group. You know, first is somebody we want to motivate and persuade in some cases that simply to vote for us, in some cases it's to organize, but also understand that there's some people probably off the table to us.
But, you know, to your point, you guys were able to claw some gains in some places, the moderate Republicans and some blue collar and exurban voters that people thought might be gone from us. So I just think and that's got to be a year-round effort. And I know you'll be supplying a lot of your mindshare to groups thinking about that in the days to come. So, John, you be generous with your time. Last question for you.
You led this campaign in a pandemic against probably the most complicated person to run against. And Donald Trump. You did it all with three kids under eight, your oldest two, having been born right after twenty twelve the last time you were deep in a presidential race, just what was that like?
I know you were home more than before. Right. So but but sometimes that's harder, right? Because they're downstairs and you can't see them. I'm just curious. And obviously you have an amazing partner and Patrick who who made it all easier. But what was that like for you?
I think it's funny. When I started doing politics, I had a lot of people saying, oh, well, if you wanted to have kids used to campaigns, you can't do those things. And I think that was the case for a long time. And so in some ways, I have always felt like it's really important to talk about the fact that I'm a mom. And look, I ascribe to the Arab school of thought where you can have it all.
You just can't actually have it all at the same time. But I think in some ways, having to share the attic with my daughters while they did virtual school and I was on the campaign was was great for them. And it was good that I did have more opportunity to be with them. My son, who is to has lots of cheers for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Barack Obama, who's part of the fun, too, in our house.
So at the end of the day, it was a lot. And you give up a ton of the parenting and the time and the moments that you're missing. But we as a family kind of collectively knew that this was more important to to participate in. And it takes a family effort to do that. And I am certain that my daughters are better off having seen what their mom did, but also see Kamala Harris and Joe Biden be able to to lead the country forward in a way that they know enough to know what that Donald Trump is, is, is they would say a bad guy.
And they really feel like they are part of helping lead this country forward and in their eight year old minds that that's going to matter a great deal. So I feel very fortunate for them to have been part of this, but also grateful to Patrick in particular for helping us navigate all this stuff. Boy, was it something for sure, Patrick's got mean tweeting skills as well. He did.
Well, listen, we all owe you a debt of gratitude. And, you know, sometimes I think politics can seem ugly and silly and small, but I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the campaign you led on behalf of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and all your amazing team members throughout the country, you are going to play a large role in saving our democracy, our planet and our lives. So thank you for that. And you've already gotten 70 million votes.
My guess is you'll get over 80 million. So you're setting records all over the place. But more than anything else, you've got Joe Biden and Kamala Harris across the finish line so that we don't only just remove Trump, but we can also make try and do that important work to making our union more perfect. So thank you, John.
Thank you. Thanks, everyone. Especially this campaign team. They were the ones that did this and pulled this off. And I will be grateful for them for all my days.
Hang in there. Get some rest. Will do.