Campaign capitalizing on Oprah's celebrity
Though the rallies were open to the public, some Iowans were worried about space limitations, and Obama's staff devised a system to capitalize on those concerns.
The staff presented three methods to ensure the receipt of an admission ticket. Iowans could pledge four hours of campaigning for Obama — making phone calls or going door to door. They could attend caucus training, which takes about 45 minutes and explains the logistics of caucus day. Or they could receive a ticket from their precinct captain, making a connection the staff hopes will prove valuable come caucus time.
The policy seemed to match the spirit of the pay-it-forward talk show queen enticing Iowans. "It's a unique strategy and a smart way to leverage Oprah's star power," said Nick Kimball, Obama's new-media director for Iowa. "We want to use this as a way to build our organization, because at the end of the day, the candidate with the best organization is going to be the most successful at the caucus."
In Des Moines, 6,000 people received a ticket from one of these three methods. In Cedar Rapids, 5,217 did — more than half the audience.
A substantial number of Iowans worked the phone. Kimball said 1,385 four-hour volunteer shifts were filled to earn "Oprah tickets."
— Christina Capecchi