Should be interesting, since I’ve yet to speak with anyone here who has any respect left for the White House:
The conference kicks off Thursday morning in Minneapolis. Organizers say it will be the largest Netroots Nation on record, with more than 2,200 in attendance. Speakers include Minnesota’s own Sen. Al Franken (D), former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Netroots favorite Howard Dean. The White House will also be represented, with Obama communications director Dan Pfeiffer addressing the crowd Friday morning.
Participants told TPM they expected the crowd to be “respectful” of Pfeiffer, but they also made it clear he’s not addressing a friendly crowd.
“He’s got some hard questions to answer,” Netroots executive director Raven Brooks told TPM. “It’s not going to be a bunch of softballs lobbed at him.”
Brooks said participants will likely press Pfeiffer on Obama campaign promises they feel he hasn’t delivered on and frustrations they have over the administration’s compromises on the Bush tax cuts and other matters that have left progressives frustrated.
Chief among those concerns is the economy. Progressives have lamented Obama’s focus on deficits and debt rather than stimulus to create new jobs. Pfeiffer can expect to hear and earful about that one.
“We will be out there fighting Republicans and we’re planning to fight hard for the people who work for a living in this country and the people who are trying to get their piece of the American dream and who haven’t been able to get that lately. Those people are also called Democratic voters,” said Levana Layendecker, communications director for Democracy for America, a progressive advocacy group founded out of the remains of Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign.
“What we want is for the White House to be with us in this fight.”
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), whose district includes Minneapolis and — this weekend, anyway — the epicenter of liberal politics in America, agreed. Despite his position in the Democratic minority in the House, he said Netroots needs to keep the pressure on his party to lean left whenever possible.
UPDATE: I don’t know who the interviewer was, but she was tough and snarky. (I got there late and was sitting all the way in the back.) “We’re Democrats, we’re going to vote for the president. But we’re not knocking on doors, we’re not making calls and we’re not making donations. Are we of any value to you? What are you going to do for us?”