Sunday, March 9, 2008

Volunteering for Senator Clinton in Texas

Below is a collection of correspondence I sent to friends, family, and associates while on my trip to Texas for its primary and caucus, where I served on the "legal team".

1. final pre-Waco missive, just some bits and pieces

Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 8:59 PM

Hello friends, friends of friends, associates, and colleagues,

I am packing for Waco, with a departure tomorrow a.m, where, as most of you know I will be campaigning for Senator Clinton. Packing is a challenge in itself since it is now 38 degrees in DC and 74 in Waco, and I don't remember what 74 feels like. Plus, the forecast for while I'm there runs from 50 degrees to 80. Hmmm...I hope this is where years of higher education are about to pay off.

I conferred with the campaign today regarding my fundraising: I have raised $650 of the latest $1000 I need (many of you have helped me get this far - thank you!). If I achieve the total goal before March 3, I can sponsor a student or former student to attend a reception with a number of senators (Cantwell, Whitehouse, Stabenow) at an ambassador's residence here in DC. The $1000 would entitle me to attend the reception and an event with Senator Clinton, and although I would enjoy meeting the senators tremendously, I have students who need that opportunity more than I do, which is why I asked the campaign if I could "split" the benefits of making my goal. Bottom line: if I raise another $350 by March 3, I can send a student to the reception and I can meet with Senator Clinton again. If you have been thinking of donating, please do: and if you can find a friend to go online and toss in $5.00 so much the better!

A quick word on the Clinton/Obama contest: some people think it is divisive and costly. I see it differently. While there will be wounds to be healed after the nominee is selection process is complete, the vibrancy of this contest is exciting. People are involved, galvanized. Sure, the discussions are sometimes silly - but hey, this is a democracy and it includes ALL kinds.

I've tried to spare you plugs for Senator Clinton because those to whom I am writing read and think about politics enough to know most of what there is to know. But I have to say that seeing how her ads and remarks and speeches in Texas have shifted gears to play up her strengths without being particularly derogatory toward Senator Obama reinforces my confidence that she has the savvy and skill to win a race against John McCain.

Meanwhile going into March 4, please note the following. Out of the over 2000 already committed delegates, Senator Clinton is behind by exactly 99. That is nothing. She is setting up offices in Wyoming and has a big advance team in Pennsylvania (staffers and volunteers) - she has the money and she really may win Texas and Ohio.

I will attempt to keep you posted from Waco - I will keep you on this list unless you ask met to take you off - which will not offend me in the least. I plan to drive by W's ranch and say "Bye-bye" whenever I can!

Off to stare at the closet some more...

2. first report from Texas

Sat, Mar 1, 2008 at 6:52 PM

Hello all:

Let's get the boring fundraising update out of the way: I've got somewhere between $300 and $400 left to raise. Here's the link: - you know what to do!

Landed at Dallas-Fort Worth airport a couple of hours ago, and had a couple of terrific emails from a few of you, including a communication from a student who knows somebody in the Clinton campaign with ties to Texas, e-introducing me. This has led to a pending change in something a little different than putting up yard signs (which I would gladly do, but apparently some think I may be better suited to tasks that require explanation and public speaking ... can't think why...after all, I'm so handy!).

I think only a few people on this list know that I am, by birth, a
Texan, and again, not everybody on this list knew my mother, who died in 2000. If
you did know Patti, you will immediately appreciate why being in
Texas now, where she started me off -with a crucial assist from my father, of course - makes Patti leap to my mind.

For one thing she would have been totally excited about the various escapades and opportunities I am having. But more interestingly, she would have been so moved by the various sorts of support many of you have been giving me. She would, of course, also be telling me that she was worried that I was pressing too hard on the fundraising front,
asking if I thought I was being polite enough, and generally making meanxious WHILE urging me on. Were I to point out the perversity of this, she would say - not entirely in jest- that as my mother it was her job to build my character by making things a bit perverse. And I would retort that I was pretty sure I was already enough of a character!

I think my mother would have herself supported Hillary for the nomination. Senator Clinton's long and effective devotion to children, to all the things important for them - education, economic solutions directed toward people trying to be good parents, affordable
high-quality healthcare etc etc - would have earned my mother's support. After all my mother taught schoolchildren for close to 40 years of her life, 30 or so devoted to teaching learning disabled and/or emotionally disturbed middle-schoolers (!!).

This just in from the person who is setting me up to work to my full potential while I'm here:

Am hearing from reliable sources from my hometown of Lubbock that many Republicans are voting in the open primary there for Hillary.
Also, here are some early voting totals from the major counties in Texas. Bexar (San Antonio), Hildalgo (Rio Grande Valley), and El Paso had great turnout!

Best to all of you.


3. Hillary, the military, and Texans; a little bit of news about Heidi

Sun, Mar 2, 2008 at 10:06 AM

Dear everybody:

I want to help disseminate some information about the support Senator Clinton is getting from military heavyweights. As I meet people here (I'm about to go do more of that, by speaking at a church (!)), especially people from outside of Dallas, I realize how much they want to see Hillary win. Non-urban areas of Texas have, historically, had large numbers of enlistees in the military. You do find yourself talking to people who have been in Iraq or have children in Iraq. These people are certainly not overall pacifists: but they are sick about the way the Iraq operation was planned and executed, and angry that President Bush duped people into the WMD myth.

Yesterday, I was able to tell them about General Shelton's endorsement of the Senator. General Shelton is among the twenty "flag officers" who have endorsed Hillary Clinton. The most interesting thing about the reactions I got was that these men and women felt that Senator Clinton would be much more effective at building and maintaining the modern military than JOHN McCAIN! One man said to me that while he had to respect McCain's own military service, he didn't think that the "local kids" would put their trust in McCain enough to carry on the "Texas tradition" of joining up in large numbers.

Now, I know that economic circumstance, as much as anything, have prompted young Texans to enlist. Personally, I believe Senator Clinton's policies will lessen economic pressures to enlist so that choice will be more freely made. But in any event, we do need a military, one with high morale, led by somebody who has unequivocally rejected torture as a war tactic, and somebody who has the trust of the top brass. That's Senator Clinton. To read General Shelton's endorsement and see the full list of flag officers who have endorsed Senator Clinton you can go to this link:

I must go drink coffee and then head out to "meet, greet, and speak". On the fundraising front, a current student of mine, who I expressly told NOT to donate any more dollars toward my goal because I felt that so many people I know could spare the money more easily, went ahead and donated $25 dollars any way! This means I need only raise another $75 by March 3 to hit my mark. If just several people who read this can go online at and donate $20 I'll be across the finish line.

Best to all of you,

4. Texas Primary Eve

Tue, Mar 4, 2008 at 12:36 AM

Hello everybody,
Texas Primary Eve and I am simultaneously keyed up and exhausted. I spent much of this afternoon and evening getting my brief for tomorrow. Things are sufficiently wild down here that I, as a member of the "legal team", will spend tomorrow patrolling key polling stations in the Dallas area to take the pulse and let the campaign know where they need to send extra volunteers or where there seem to be "irregularities." Then, tomorrow night, I truly morph into George Mitchell and will be sent to one of the spots where the campaign expects the most contentious caucuses, in the Dallas area, to take place.

I've been on a conference call with Clinton's top legal advisers in D.C. and Austin, reviewing DNC rules and other polling and caucus related matters relevant to the 350 lawyer-volunteers here in Texas (that's counting both in-staters and out-of-staters). I have also continued to have a few sidebar exchanges with two of the more senior Clinton folks, and this is how, I think, I have ended up with the assignment to rove 8 key precincts in Dallas and nearby tomorrow. The campaign thinks that the winner will be determined by roughly 40 precincts, some in Dallas and some in Houston. Of course, "the winner" may actually walk off with fewer delegates than "the loser" - because one can win the popular vote but because of the weighting system lose in the delegate count - but both Senator Obama's and Senator Clinton's campaigns care more about the monicker "winner" - although of course if either is the "loser" but has more delegates s/he will spin it as though s/he is the "winner." Oy veh - as we say down here in Texas.

Meanwhile, it is currently 30 degrees in Dallas and closer to 60 degrees in DC, so the weather makes no more sense than the Texas Democratic Party rules! Fortunately, I feel able to adapt to both.

Most humorous moment of the day: a whispered conversation in Neiman Marcus with a salesperson who will vote for Hillary but says she can't say anything in the lunchroom because everybody else who works at the store is - gasp - a Republican.

I may run out of steam to report tomorrow, but I will certainly send a post-trip message to you all.

Good night!

5. Hillary and Heidi on Election Day midafternoon

Tue, Mar 4, 2008 at 5:54 PM

Dear all,

If you want to see Senator Clinton in action, this is the best video I've seen, Hillary in Beaumont yesterday, after starting in Toledo, OH at about 5:30 a.m. to meet people coming off the night shift at an auto factory:

I started my own day today at 6 a.m. - not a prime-Heidi-time, as many of you know - because the polls opened at 7 in Texas and I wanted to make my first round of "observer" stops during the pre-work voting period. Before I get to some highlights of my day so far, however, I want to note some news phoned in by my most excellent sister-in-law, who has been working hard for Hillary in San Antonio, where she and my brother-in-law and niece live. She reports loooonnnng lines at the Democratic polling stations she and her friends went to.

I started my day at a polling station with long lines, one southeast of Dallas. All was orderly, some people were talking about returning to caucus tonight. That spot is not at all a well-off area (to say the least) so of course the polling station was undermanned, and I was extremely impressed with the local official running the scene. No infringements of rules (as has been reported in more well-off suburbs around Dallas), everybody treated respectfully, helped to understand complicated paperwork and procedures. I was able to lend a hand with explanation process. Of course, at the polling station I did not say one word about my preferred candidate (no electioneering within 100 yards of the polling station), and I didn't care. An older woman told me this was the first primary she'd ever voted in, usually just votes in the general election. I asked if she was returning for the caucus that night (additional delegates are assigned then), and, like so many Texans, she said she didn't know what the caucus was for. I had the chance to explain, explain what she should do later this evening, and I think she might just attend!

I thought I'd let the names of the polling sites I've visited speak for themselves, to give you a flavor of Texas once once is right out of downtown cities.

Forrester Field House
St. Luke's Community United Methodist Church
St. Pius Church (a Catholic church)
Bryan Adams High School
Bethel Lutheran Church
David Burnett Elementary School
Multiple Careers Magnet Center

Must eat now, and get back out there later!

6. joy! and gratitude! and respect for Senator Obama's supporters too!

Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 9:34 AM

Dear all,
I had an amazing experience attending a caucus last night. But I want to say right up front that one of the greatest parts of that experience, in a Dallas precinct that, as a result of the caucus, will be sending 5 Clinton delegates to the convention, and 4 Obama delegates (that close!) that things ran smoothly and appropriately and that people from both camps acted with dignity and respect for one another.

You know though that for me, Senator Clinton's wins in Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island (some of you know I went to Brown as an undergraduate, and I had no fear that the state was in the good hands of the people of Rhode Island) are just thrilling, on many, many levels. Senator Clinton has been by choice for nominee for a long time, for reasons personal, political, and pragmatic. So here it is:


What incredible times we are going through. I am so glad I decided to journey to Texas (and lucky that the prima-caucus was scheduled for the Law Center's spring break), and so appreciative of the assistance and support from all of you.

I may send one final "post-Texas" missive, so I won't keep popping up in your email inboxes with Clinton related messages. And forgive this, but if you are at all inclined to donate even five more dollars to the campaign, they will need it, for Pennsylvania and beyond. Here's the link:

In closing, I just want to reiterate that I think the Democratic nominee, whoever that is at the end of the National Convention, will be BETTER positioned to win in November because of the excitement of this nomination process and because each candidate is learning something from the others' supporters - learning what Americans want in and expect of their President.

Best to each and every one of you,

who cannot help but think of the phrase, "Hillary Rodham Clinton, 44th President of the United States"
6. Fwd: Texas appreciation [nothing to do with fundraising!]

Sat, Mar 8, 2008 at 6:28 AM

This message just arrived, from the chair of the caucus I observed. I am so moved by it. And I would not have been able to serve as I did without the support of those who were part of my "Texas trip" email list. I wanted you to see what you made possible.

Best to all, H.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: [caucus chair]
Date: Sat, Mar 8, 2008 at 2:12 AM
Subject: Texas appreciation
To: [HLF]

Heidi, you were like an angel who showed up at our precinct. I cannot tell you what relief I felt knowing that we wouldn't get too far away from the intent of the meeting with you advising us.

Not only had I never chaired a precinct meeting, I had never been an election judge or even worked an election. Having to close the polls with all of the mumbo jumbo involved with securing the vote was chaotic. None of my workers had ever done it before either. Frankly, I have great compassion now for the Florida folks who were accused of mishandling the votes. Believe me, I am still waiting for the Election Police because I have no great feeling that we did everything that was supposed to be done. We just did the best we could. Trying to do both at the same time--impossible and criminal that a neophyte would be asked to do so without any technical assistance on certifying the votes and closing the polls. I hate not doing things "right."

But, you made the precinct responsibility so much less stressful. You quietly, patiently, and calmly handled the few situations that threatened to get out of hand; i.e., "iodine." Both groups appreciated your bipartisan advice.

I am also passing this thanks and appreciation along to the Clinton campaign. I still think that the stars were aligned correctly for a few minutes that night.

I have recently retired after 39 years in public education, as a teacher, principal and central office administrator. Agreeing to the jobs on March 4 was part of my resolve so say "yes" more than "no" to opportunities. Mostly, it has resulted in lots of new adventures and meeting some neat people. Although I will never again do both things at the same time, I am so very glad I had the experience and meeting you was a highlight. Precinct chair was a piece of cake compared to election judge. Also, from the horror stories I heard at the Democratic Party headquarters, we have a remarkably friendly precinct.

Unfortunately, the meeting didn't reflect the ethnic diversity of our neighborhood. White, upwardly mobile mid 30 year olds seemed to dominate, didn't they? The neighborhood is changing but still has a number of Hispanics who struggle economically. But, I know as an educator that, as a group, Hispanics tend not to participate in such activities. So, it wasn't a surprise that they didn't come to the caucus. Their voice was not heard. We also have a pretty liberal group of people in our precinct, unlike the majority of Dallasites and Texans. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience. I hope you found it so, too.

If you ever come back to Dallas, please let me know. I would love to take you to dinner, for a drink, or a tour of the Kennedy Assassination site, just about our only tourist attraction other than Six Flags. Seriously, I would like to have an opportunity to once again thank you. Besides, I could just tell that you are the kind of person I would like to know. I admit to being a snob for smart, "with-it" people. You more than qualify.

[name redacted by HLF], Democratic Precinct Chairperson


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