Political Intelligence

White House aide David Simas hasn’t forgotten Taunton roots

President Obama with David Simas at the NATO Summit in Lisbon in 2010. Simas, a Massachusetts native and aide to presidential adviser David Axelrod, is overseeing polling and focus group research for the Obama reelection campaign.
white house/2010 file
President Obama with David Simas at the NATO Summit in Lisbon in 2010. Simas, a Massachusetts native and former aide to presidential adviser David Axelrod, is now overseeing polling and focus group research for the Obama reelection campaign.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Trail mix from covering the 2012 Democratic National Convention:

The party gathering was the last in office for Governor Deval Patrick, and there was no shortage of potential successors in Charlotte this past week.

Such conventions are a hotbed of activists who are the lifeblood of political campaigns. Politicians ignore them at their peril.


Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray flew in to address the Massachusetts delegates on Thursday, and Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Auditor Suzanne Bump were in attendance all week.

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But one person who set both local and national audiences abuzz was David Simas, a former aide to Patrick and David Axelrod in the White House who is now overseeing polling and focus group research for the Obama reelection campaign in Chicago.

Simas gave his take on President Obama’s chances in nine battleground states, but it was his homage to his native Taunton, his tribute to his immigrant parents, and the eloquence with which he spoke about Democratic ideals and grassroots organizing that stood out.

Typical was his call to arms for what he said will be a perilously close election for Obama.

“This is person to person, neighbor to neighbor, co-worker to co-worker, people you pray with and people you play with. That is what this election is all about,” said Simas. “We win this on the ground.”

Galvin finds fault


Secretary of State William F. Galvin was at the convention for the first half of the week before flying home to oversee Thursday’s state primary.

He got quite exercised, though, as he saw the way his own party handled the formal nomination of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Delegates entering the state party’s daily breakfast Wednesday were asked to check off forms certifying their vote for Obama, and allowing it to be cast by proxy during Wednesday night’s televised roll call by Boston City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo.

But there was no check-off for Biden. Galvin questioned the security and organization of the vote before saying to a Globe reporter, “If I ran an election this way, people would have my head.”

Remembering October

After his own speech to the delegation, Senator John F. Kerry was asked his greatest fear for Obama in the closing months of this campaign.


Kerry, the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, said: “As the victim of a tape from Osama bin Laden on a Friday before an election on Tuesday — that we were going to win and then didn’t — I’m particularly sensitive to October and October surprises and October problems.”

Kerry said he believes the country is “on the crest, frankly, of a more genuine recovery,” and that Obama is a “superb campaigner.”

But with Europe in economic crisis, Syria in near-civil war, and the risk of a terrorist attack, he worries “whether something unforeseen comes into the equation.”

Party on, to 2016

The Democratic Governors Association hosted several parties in Charlotte, not surprising considering that the organization is led by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a prospective candidate for the Democrats’ 2016 presidential nomination.

On Sunday, party favors included Hershey bars with a special wrapper. And inside some of them – a la Willy Wonka – were golden tickets for special prizes.

Bonnie McGilpin, Patrick’s deputy press secretary, ended up with one. When she went to cash her particular golden ticket, she was told the prize was . . . a meeting with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

Thoughts on the runway

US Airways Flight 1800 on Friday had the aura of a post-convention airlift, filled with members of the Massachusetts political establishment headed back to Boston from Charlotte.

Takeoff was delayed about 20 minutes, though, when the airport was shut down so Air Force One could takeoff.

The passengers — whose ranks included Murray, Bump, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, Massachusetts Democratic Party executive director Clare Kelly, and former first daughter Caroline Kennedy — watched as the majestic robin’s-egg blue-and-white aircraft lifted into the sky en route to New Hampshire.

Also aboard were Kerry and former governor Michael S. Dukakis, another Democratic presidential nominee who lost his White House bid.

One could only imagine what they were thinking as they sat and waited while Obama set out in pursuit of his second term.

Glen Johnson is lead blogger for Political Intelligence, online at www.boston.com/politics. He can be reached at johnson­@globe­.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.

Correction: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of the item on David Simas in this story incorrectly described Simas’s employment status. Simas no longer works in the White House.