The launch of Obama ’08

It was Sunday, November 6, 2006.  I was standing on the pedestrian mall in downtown Iowa City, right in front of some risers erected to give cameras a view of the stage where Democrats would hold a pre-election rally. It was a bit chilly, but thousands turned out. Illinois Senator Barack Obama was the main draw. "I've been traveling all across the country and there is something happening out there," Obama told that crowd in Iowa City.  "There is a mood shift. There is a sea change." 

Obama08button200 It was on this night that Steve Hildebrand walked up to me and handed me a button. Hildebrand ran Al Gore's Iowa Caucus campaign in 2000, so we knew one another. By 2006, he was based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Hildebrand had been Tom Daschle's 2004 campaign manager.  The next year he started a consulting firm with Paul Tewes.  

This is the buttom Hildebrand handed me almost two years ago.  A simple red, white and blue background.  A simple declaration:  "Barack Obama President 2008."  It included in very small print a web address that's no longer functioning.  Just over three months later, Obama himself would make the button's declaration official when he launched his campaign for president with a speech in Springfield, Illinois. 

For those of you who've kept on top of the line-up of campaign execs, Hildebrand is currently deputy national campaign director of Obama's campaign.  Tewes ran Obama's Iowa Caucus campaign and has gone on to be an Obama campaign liason with the Democratic National Committee.  In the closing weeks, Hildebrand moved to Florida to work on the Obama effort there.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.