jueves, 2 de agosto de 2012

Los hermanos Koch se inspiran en George Soros

The door-knockers wearing matching T- shirts and carrying electronic tablets loaded with maps and survey scripts fanned out on a recent evening across Hillsborough County, a Florida enclave that has backed the winning presidential candidate in each of the last three elections.

Their mission: Find residents who share the small- government philosophy of Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit group founded by billionaire industrialists and Republican donors Charles and David Koch.

It’s a project conceived in envy, as the Kochs watched another billionaire, financier George Soros, underwrite a 2004 Democratic voter-turnout project that operated outside of the official party, said Tim Phillips, AFP’s president.

“To their credit, Soros and other progressive, liberal donors decided to strengthen the movement rather than the party,” Phillips said. “It eventually worked, and there’s no reason we can’t see the same success.”

(...) AFP has opened offices in 34 states, hired 200 employees and armed hundreds of volunteers with digital devices -- deploying more than 4,000 mobile phones and tablets so far, said Levi Russell, the group’s spokesman.

Its 2.1 million activists -- they aren’t called members because they don’t pay dues -- are tapped for phone-banking sessions. AFP dialers have phone banked from a dock at a house in Lake Tahoe in Nevada, during road trips, and from the second floor of a Dairy Queen in Montana.

Phone banking is even woven into the schedule for AFP’s annual conference that begins today in Washington. Such outreach is taking place almost daily across the U.S. and is especially concentrated in 18 states that are either presidential battlegrounds or have competitive congressional or gubernatorial races.

“We prefer to spend our money on building,” Phillips said in an interview last week near AFP’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

(...) The 2004 race between President George W. Bush and Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry provided some inspiration. Soros and other wealthy Democrats poured millions into outside political groups, including America Coming Together, which was a voter registration and turnout operation. Although ACT surpassed all its targets for recruiting new, like-minded voters, Kerry lost to Bush and in 2005 ACT was shuttered.

Even with that setback, Obama’s campaign in 2008 took lessons from it and improved the voter outreach program in its Obama For America arm, which succeeded in creating a grassroots army big enough to win the White House.

Phillips seeks to build a Republican variation of a lasting ground-game organization, he said.

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