E-mail Interview


Jack O'Toole: Jack O'Toole runs Jack O'Toole & Associates, a Charleston, SC area full-service firm providing strategic Internet planning, design and communications for politics, business and nonprofits.  He is a former vice president of Phil Noble & Associates and PoliticsOnline.
O'Toole responded to questions in a July 19, 2003 e-mail:

1) What specifically prompted you to put this site together?  Can you recall some incident/event/conversation that triggered the idea?

Sure.  There were a couple of things, really.

First, I was discussing the race with my wife a few weeks ago, and I heard myself saying (with more than a little disappointment), "You know, this field is full of decent people, but for the first time in my adult life, I don't have a candidate. I really wish Joe Biden were in the race."

The second event was Sen. Biden's eulogy at Strom Thurmond's funeral.  Just about everyone here in SC saw it -- the state had essentially shut down for the day -- and as I read the press coverage and spoke with friends and neighbors the next day, I saw what a large impression the senator's words had made.  And it occurred to me: If you can say the same things in the same way to the people of Delaware and the people of SC -- and be equally well-received in both places -- you are, almost by definition, a legitimate national candidate.

At that point, I started to think more seriously about a Biden campaign, and ultimately decided to get involved. Specifically, as to why I then built the website, the answer is simple: It seemed a lot more effective than opening the front door and shouting Biden for President at the top of my lungs, and a lot cheaper than purchasing several hundred thousand points of TV time.

2) Your bio is a little vague, mentioning "numerous political campaigns;" have you ever worked on a Biden campaign or for Sen. Biden or had an extended conversation with him?

I've never worked for Sen. Biden in any capacity. I've never even met him, in fact.

3) Do none of the nine declared Dem. candidates appeal to you?

As I said above, they seem like decent, honorable people. I just happen to think that Joe Biden has the kind of serious foreign policy credentials and no-BS persona that any Democrat is going to need to go toe-to-toe with George Bush next year.

4) When did you start work on the site and is it correct that it went up July 16?

I believe I ordered the domain name (biden04.com) and started work on the site on the 9th of this month. The site was ready to go the following Monday (July 14), but (excuse the jargon) the address didn't start resolving until sometime on Tuesday, the 15th.

5) Have you received any interesting feedback yet?

Plenty. Including, of course, this questionnaire ...

6) Wouldn't Sen. Biden be at a huge disadvantage because of his late start relative to the other candidates (Kerry w/ over $10m cash on hand; Dean 52 days in Iowa...)?

Not really.  First, he hasn't been diminished by being a part of the pack, an important factor that most pundits tend to overlook.  Second, a late start would generate a great deal of media attention at just the right time. And third, there's what journalist Mickey Kaus calls "faster politics": that is, the way that modern communications technologies are speeding up the whole process.  Money can be raised very quickly online.  (Howard Dean raised the vast majority of his impressive $7 million dollar total over the Internet in the days just before the end of the most recent filing period.)  And an organization can spring up almost overnight.  For example, two days ago, only one city was scheduled to hold a Biden Meetup.  As of this moment (July 19, 4:30 AM EST), there are 18. You can literally see the outlines of a national organization starting to emerge in just two days. That's faster politics in action, and it means, I think, that a credible national candidate like Joe Biden could enter the race this fall and still win the nomination convincingly.

Note: I took a few moments to read over this e-mail before sending it, and now, at 4:48 AM EST, there are 19 cities. See what I mean about fast ...

Copyright © 2003  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.