Erik Greathouse
NH State Director, Gephardt for President, Inc.
Transcript of May 22, 2003 Interview

Q. When did you start and what have you accomplished?

I'm on day number nine.  I started on May 12th--was my first day physically here and with the campaign.  And that's actually the day that we opened up this office as well.  So we just opened up this office.  We have two other staff people who were working out of temporary office, but I myself that's my first day.

I think we've accomplished a lot...  And I think it's a testament to the strength of Leader Gephardt.  He's been up here for 18 years visiting and working with the activists.  But in the short time that I've been here we released our new list of supporters, which numbered like 220.  We have a lot of strength.  There's a lot of prominent folks, and we've got a mixture of folks throughout the state.  It's not concentrated in one certain area.  Like any campaigns that start, we're putting together the organization and an infrastructure even in the office here.  Hiring staff.  Getting the office up and running.  Computers.  Networking.  Etcetera, etcetera.  But in doing all that we're also doing a lot of field activities--constantly in touch with folks.

I am putting together the plan for New Hampshire and how we can win the state.  And that's my big, big task for the immediate near future, not only obviously opening the office and making sure things are functioning, but putting together the campaign plan...for the state.  And that's my number one task.

I should also say that I did spend a good part of the first couple of days introducing myself to folks throughout the state, either by personal visits or by phone call.

Q. Is that a handicap?  Other campaigns have state directors who are extremely plugged in.

...I mean we've got Jim Demers, who I don't think there's anybody more plugged in.  And the strength I bring is I know how to run campaigns.  I know how to win campaigns, and when you have like the Jim Demers--we've got Anita Freedman, we've got the two DNC folks...  We've got really good plugged in folks.  I know that the other campaigns have got former executive directors of the state party and God bless them for that, that's great, and they're very lucky to have that.  We would certainly love to have them on our team.  But we have unpaid folks who are working day and night to make sure that Dick Gephardt is the next president and I think that they more than make up for the fact that I may not be plugged in here.  And I'm very conscious of that and have made a lot of calls and going out of my way to make sure that the activists, the supporters, and the leadership in the state know that I am here to not boss anyone around, but to listen and be supportive and to learn.

Q. Do you think you're behind the curve?  These other campaigns have offices, some of them for quite some time; they have [up to] a dozen people on staff.

I think it's really early.  I think if you look back in 2000, in June Bradley was like at 8, 9, 10, 15 percent and heck he went on to make it a really, really tight race.  My point being it's really early.  As you know, especially in New Hampshire, things can change overnight, so no matter how much staff you have on board, how pretty your office is, how many yard signs you have up on the walls, what happens is and what matters is the message, the candidates that deliver the message.  And I think our campaign has done the best job doing that so far in the campaign.  I mean our health care plan has set the standard.  And I think folks are seeing that Gephardt is not the old, tired, worn out candidate that a lot of people tagged him with early, but he's got some fresh, very great ideas.  I mean the infrastructure, the staff--come back in a month and we'll be fully staffed.  The campaign made a conscious decision to make sure that we spent our money wisely.  We're not going to have as much money as some of the other candidates so we decided that we would hold out.  But again where other campaigns might have 20 staff, we had two for a long time, and I think that those fellows...our list of activists, out list of supporters, our ground and field staff, even though it's only two folks, they've done a hell of a job.  And I would certainly match up our two guys with their staff.  And I think that in DC we have a great staff who's also been doing a lot of work in the state.  We will certainly gear up.  The campaign is moving into a different aspect...and moving to that next phase does dictate that we have more staff and we start doing that.

Q. In terms of selecting this office, did you have a hand in that?

I did not.  It was before me, but being here and having conversations with Mike Mattoon, who did work, he's on staff; he's the one that put the office together--  We wanted to be downtown; we wanted to be in a good location.  We are closest to the Merrimack Restaurant, which is historic; that's the place.  So when we tell folks, where are you?  We're two doors down from the Merrimack; they're like, okay, no problem.  Elm Street's definitely the place to be.  We're going to work on some more visibility so folks know we're upstairs, but we've got a lot of space. many square feet.

I think it's 2,500 square feet.  It's going to be plenty.  We'll obviously open up regional offices as we get further down the line.  So...not every singly thing will be run out of this office.  We'll have field and staff out in different offices.  But...we have a big, big volunteer space that can hold plenty of volunteers.  We will drop dozens upon dozens of phone lines.  The building can support that.  It's built in for unlimited phone lines as we need.  So we're really excited about the space.

How did you come to be state director?

I-- and I'm very grateful for being here.  I think it's going to be a great opportunity.  I was chief of staff for a member of Congress and [had] been working closely with Leader Gephardt.

...which member?

Mike Ross, congressman from Arkansas.  I managed his campaign in the year 2000.  We were successful; he asked me to go to Washington.  Leader Gephardt was very, very helpful in our campaign, and I've worked a lot with his leadership folks within his team, and about a month and a half ago I got a call from one of the senior advisors to the campaign and they asked me if I would be interested in working in this position.  I was overwhelmed...

I had told a lot of folks in Washington, and with a lot of consultants, have a lot of friends in the business, that I wanted to get back out and do a campaign.  So I was looking a managing either a statewide Senate race, a statewide governor's race.  I didn't really look at the presidentials because I had just assumed that all the senior level positions were taken and I didn't want to be a deputy to a deputy to a deputy.  So when I got the call about this I was very excited because I think it's a great position and it's going to be a great opportunity.

Had a bunch of meetings with the folks in DC, met with Leader Gephardt, talked with him extensively.  He's committed to running a strong race in New Hampshire.  He's committed to taking this thing out to the very end and he's committed to winning.  And that was the only thing that I wanted to ask him was--I mean obviously he's committed to winning but I wanted to hear it from him.  And he is absolutely committed and he absolutely has a plan to win this race.  So it was very exciting.

Q. Any eye-openers?  Have you been in New Hampshire in any capacity?

I actually have not been up here before, but the thing that I've learned, and I've done campaigns from the East Coast to the West Coast, is that every campaign is similar.  Folks want to be moved, not just by yard signs or bumperstickers, but they want a compelling good message.  Regardless of where you are, you have to deliver that message.

The thing with New Hampshire that's unique is that the campaigns are able to deliver that in person to a lot of folks in New Hampshire because they come up here quite often and the state is relatively small.  You're looking at 2-250,000 people voting in the primary.  That's a congressional race in some states.  So the unique thing just about New Hampshire that's maybe different is that instead of just getting a broadcast message via TV, mail, phones, which we'll still do here in New Hampshire, you still get that direct contact.

...some of the eye-openers?

How passionate folks are about this.  And I think it's because they get to have a front seat to the campaigns.  How involved folks are, and how the activists and the major supporters are really involved with the campaigns and their great ideas that they have.  In other states you have folks that maybe will volunteer.  Up here they take it beyond volunteering.  They're fully involved with the campaigns.

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