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Top Obama swing state strategist to speak in Saskatoon

Lasia Kretzel
January 31, 2014
This article originally appeared on CKOM Newstalk 650.

Barack Obama’s top swing state strategist is coming to Saskatoon to talk about how everyday people can bring about the social changes they want through grassroots action.

Mitch Stewart directed the American president’s successful 2012 campaign within 10 of the 11 swing states votes. He was also involved in Obama’s 2008 campaign and several organizations.

“To say (the campaign was) magical probably doesn’t do it justice,” Stewart said.

“The thing we really learned during the campaign is the nexus of using better data and analytics on one end and probably more important is this relationship or community based organizing.”

Saskatoon Change Makers is co-organized by left-wing think tank the Broadbent Institute and two-time provincial NDP candidate Ryan Meili’s UpStream.

“Mitch brings that real on the ground experience on how to win campaigns and we look forward to hearing what his advice is for folks in the local context,” Graham Mitchell, Broadbent Institute training and leadership director said.

Stewart will talk about the tactics he used in the 2012 campaign to usher in a second term for Obama including building social networks.

“Teaching how you can build those relationship structures and teams … making sure groups have that information, how powerful it can be and guide them through that process,” Stewart said.

Through his organization 270 Strategies, Stewart has also spoken at other Canadian venues including Ottawa and Vancouver. He was also brought in to stress the importance of grassroots movements and "progressive change."

“The important thing about grassroots movements are everybody has a role to play in making change. “

(The Broadbent Institute is) pushing for people to take seriously the opportunity to get involved in politics,” Mitchell said, adding what progressive means changes depending on the community.

“For different organizations and different communities it means different things, that’s partly why we’ve pulled together other local communities and working with UpStream to identify challenges that local communities face.”

Stewart will be joined by co-speakers Meili, University of Saskatchewan student union president Max FineDay and Idle No More co-founder Erica Lee, at the Roxy Theatre at 7 p.m Friday.