Hillary Clinton volunteer makes phone calls to Hoosier voters to encourage them to vote for the former secretary of state. Photo by Andi TenBarge, TheStatehouseFile.com
By Andi TenBarge
INDIANAPOLIS — “Indiana is going to matter.”
Jack Blanchard, a volunteer with the Hillary Clinton campaign, is working to energize Democrats who supported President Barack Obama in 2008.
Eight years ago, Clinton beat Obama in the Indiana primary, but still failed to secure the Democratic nomination for president. Paul Helmke, a political science professor with the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said it’s clear that Clinton is trying to learn some lessons from eight years ago.
Helmke described the 2008 Indiana primary race as one Clinton’s last “good stands” in that election since she carried the Hoosier state, despite the fact it was already clear Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee.
“Indiana is going to be an interesting state,” Helmke said. “I think there’s going to be a lot more focus here than a lot of us realize. Things are going to turn pretty quickly.”
Jack Blanchard, a volunteer with the Hillary Clinton Campaign, makes phone calls to voters urging them to vote for Clinton. Blanchard said everyone he talked to was warm towards him and his efforts. Photo by Andi TenBarge, TheStatehouseFile.com.
After opening offices across the state, Clinton supporters are trying to encourage voters to throw their support behind the former secretary of state. Hillary for Indiana hosted a phone bank Tuesday evening, but this time the volunteers were former volunteers for the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012.
Blanchard is no stranger to Indiana political campaigns. The Herron High School senior volunteered with the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012 before he was able to legally vote. He said the group he’s worked with in past election cycles has become like family to him.
“We have a diverse group of supporters and it’s real interesting getting to talk to these people and learn about their lives,” Blanchard said. “Just getting to know these people and getting to know their problems is just really exciting for me.”
Helmke describes the Obama voter outreach as a sign that Clinton has learned not to take anything for granted after failing to take Bernie Sanders’ campaign seriously during the early days of the 2016 primary. That decision has left Clinton’s organization scrambling.
“I’m sensing they thought it would be over with right now; so they’re playing a little catch up,” Helmke said. “My sense is eight years ago, there was a [stronger] Obama organization and Clinton organization in the state than you see from either of the camps now just because eight years ago they both knew it would still be going on.”
Despite the political clashes between Obama and Clinton in the 2008 race, the outreach to former Obama voters is beneficial for the Clinton campaign, according to Helmke. He said voters will likely see Clinton’s time as secretary of state as loyalty to the Obama administration.
Roughly 20 volunteers came out Tuesday evening at Donatos Pizza in Indianapolis to support Clinton’s campaign. Many of the volunteers also helped during Obama’s campaign. Photo by, Andi TenBarge, TheStatehouseFile.com.
“There’s still some that might resent the fight from eight years ago, but there’s a lot of others, I think, feel she was a good loyal member of the administration,” he said.
Helmke also said the move will help Clinton pick up voters from the African-American community and other minorities.
“For me as a gay man, I think Clinton has the best record in LGBT equality issues of any of the candidates for president and so that issue is really important to young people,” Blanchard said. “Secretary Clinton is somebody who is going to fight everyday for my right and the right of my gay friends.”
Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news site powered by Franklin College journalism students.