Top Clinton advisor visits San Francisco

Ann Lewis, a senior advisor on the presidential campaign team of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, and Ace Smith, the candidate’s California director, met with reporters in Clinton’s San Francisco headquarters this morning to talk about how the campaign is courting women, especially single women who have not historically flocked to the polls.

“Twenty million single women didn’t vote in 2004 and 15 million of those women were not registered to vote,” said Lewis, a dynamic speaker in her own right who served as the White House director of communications for President Bill Clinton. “We need to find a way to speak to those women.”

Single women care about, among other things, Lewis said, children’s health and, equal pay in the workforce.

“We need to convince these women that making a political decision (to vote) is in their best interests,” Lewis said.

The best way to reach women, Lewis said, is through face-to-face, social networking such as bookclubs, church groups and other places where women congregate and talk with each other.

With all the technology available to campaigns these days, social networking may seem old-fashioned but people would rather hear from people they know and like than an impersonal ad on a bus or a TV spot, explained Ace Smith, Clinton’s California campaign director.

“Campaigns are won with real conversations,” Smith said.

To provide more voters with a chance to see and hear Clinton in person, the campaign has launched what it calls its Club 44 events, so-named because the next president will be the 44th U.S. president. Tickets are $20 and participants, a far more affordable price tag than the conventional fund-raiser reception where attendees pay the maximum allowed under federal law ($2,300).

The campaign is also unveiling tomorrow, the anniversary of the date that U.S. voters gave women the right to vote, a new web site devoted to women’s equality.

“This anniversary should be at least as well-known as Ground Hog’s Day,” Lewis said.

Lewis’ resume also includes jobs as communications director for Hillary Clinton’s political action committee called HILLPAC. She was also director of communications and deputy campaign manager for the Clinton-Gore Re-Election Campaign in 1995- 1996, and senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2000. As the national chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Women’s Vote Center, she led an or initiative to mobilize women voters from 2002- 2004.

In 2001, Lewis was the Richman Visiting Professor at Brandeis University, teaching a course on the Presidency entitled “The West Wing and The Real World.” and a Public Policy Fellow at the Annenberg School of Communications of the University of Pennsylvania.

She also served as during the Clinton presidency as co-chairwoman of the president’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History and she was appointed to serve on the Women’s Progress Commission, established by Congress to report on women’s historical sites.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen