MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Feb. 13 — It makes sense that the campaign that changes course often also changes airplanes on a regular basis. Within the past couple of weeks the Dean campaign has flown on Pearl Jam I, Pearl Jam II, Cheese Head I and an unnamed Gulf Stream. Then Thursday afternoon in Madison, Wis., the press corps boarded a 40-passenger DC-9, which was once owned by Kenny Rogers. Inspiration struck as soon as the previous owner's name was uttered: Gambler I. After all, "you better know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," is good counsel for the Governor, who is placing all his bets on one state. And, some of the press corps noted, Dean's favorite musician Wyclef Jean once did a remix of the Rogers classic.
Though his pile of chips may be dwindling, Dean is still receiving some backing. At the Minneapolis Convention Center approximately $90,000 was raised from the 360 people who paid for $100 or $1000 tickets to sip punch and savor pastries at a two-tiered fundraiser for the Governor. One of those people was travel agent Maggie Dolan, who has never donated to a campaign before and secured a coveted spot on the receiving line. When Dean stopped before her, Dolan says she shook his hand and pleaded him not to quit. "He looked me right in the eye and he said, 'I am not going to give up'," recalls Dolan. "I'll vote for Atilla the Hun to get rid of Bush, but I don't want to vote for Kerry.'"
Financial aid is also coming in the form of radio ads. A band of supporters under the label of TruthandHope.org has created two radio spots that will hit the Wisconsin airwaves today. The ads point out the differences between Dean and Kerry, and showcase the Governor's executive experience. The independent 527 organization put up a couple of ads in Washington just before the state's caucus.
Of course, cash is not the only resource keeping the campaign afloat. People Powered Howard's headquarters is leaner but still has a healthy stock of diehards, including Zephyr and Nicco. Just two weeks ago when the chips were down, the duo found a way to materialize a supporter's idea for a campaign-run radio station. Now the DJs of Democracy host an Internet radio show weeknights at 9:00 pm and weekends at 4:00 pm. WDFA (Dean for America) Radio is actually run off laptops in a small room at the Burlington ranch with wires dropping from the ceiling and a pair of headphones Scotch taped to a telephone. Total cost: Mixer for $150, microphone for $89, microphone stand for $89 and cables for $100. Cost of eternal hope in the face of crushing defeats and polls: Priceless.
Guests at WDFA can be anyone including new campaign manager Roy Neel. "It's really the best thing I do," says an enthusiastic Neel as he enters the "studio" one Saturday afternoon. Leaning back in a chair, Neel fields calls about his candidate's strength, upcoming ads and Dean's plan to change America. He also takes his shots at the president. "Can you imagine a George Bush Meet Up," muses Neel. "They would take place in Halliburton boardrooms."
Neel will remain in Wisconsin until Primary Day on Feb. 17 when the campaign will know for sure how all the chips stack up.
Dean prepares for long haul
MILWAUKEE, WIS., Feb. 11 — When the Dean press corps was reunited with colleagues returning from a few days off the trail, stories of yoga classes and lazy days in pajamas sparked flames of envy in the light of the Governor's promise to remain in the race for the long haul.