While the “Clark Bar” may not be the world’s next Snickers, the “secret marketing tool” of the latest Democratic grassroots campaign may soon find its way to campus through the campaigning efforts of the Yale Students for Clark.
Five Yale students from the organization drove up early Saturday to join almost 200 other Democratic voters in attending the 8:45 a.m. opening ceremony for presidential candidate Wesley Clark’s Manchester, N.H. headquarters.
Yale Students for Clark chairman Jeremy Ershow ’06 said he thought that meeting General Clark was an exciting experience that bolstered his enthusiasm for the campaign.
“He walked into the room like a rock star,” Ershow said. “It’s one thing to see and hear positions on policy but another to shake someone’s hand in person, and Clark definitely passed that test.”
After listening to General Clark speak, the students joined Clark campaign workers and others attending the event in directly canvassing registered Democratic voters in Manchester, passing out informational fliers and “Clark Bar” chocolate bars. They ended the day by strategizing future student involvement in the campaign.
Christopher Dampier ’06 said he attended Saturday’s event primarily for the purpose of meeting Clark, but that becoming an active member of the campaign taught him how essential his grassroots effort would be in garnering support for Clark.
“Field work like door-to-door canvassing is not very romantic or glamorous but it is necessary to win an election,” Dampier said. “I was surprised by the positive response we got from most people after they heard about Clark.”
Eric Tam GRD ’06, another student who attended Saturday’s Manchester event, said that with the New Hampshire primaries approaching quickly, the person-to-person contact was a necessary component of the campaign.
“These voters know their vote counts, and everyone there expects to see people knocking on their doors,” he said. “50,000 people are going to decide this primary, and it is absolutely necessary that we campaign.”
The Saturday event was one of the first efforts to unite the grassroots Clark campaign, which was started by an Internet meeting service known as meetup.com. Through the service, active members of the 40,000 registered Clark supporters organize local meetings around the nation that are held the first Monday of each month.
In terms of future coordinating efforts, Ershow said the college students at the event — who Tam said numbered almost 30 or 40 — strategized together after campaigning to plan future student involvement, including a large college campaign weekend and possible social events promoting the Clark campaign.
Yale Students for Clark, which holds its meetings on alternate Wednesdays and already has 70 members, started as a coalition within the Yale College Democrats this fall but is currently registering as an independent organization. In addition to planning future trips to New Hampshire, Ershow said the group hopes to garner Democratic support for Clark on campus and recruit more active members to work directly on the national campaign itself.
Clark, a retired four-star Army general who served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, visited Manchester as part of a five-day campaign trip to New Hampshire.