The next behind-the-scenes battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is shaping up between their young and potentially rich campaign pawns: The HillBlazers vs. Generation O. Gen-O is a different kind of concept to match a different kind of politics, the Obama camp says, more about "friendraising" than the charmless money grabs that usually come with cutthroat, celebrity politics. But the Hillary camp insists the Obama kids are just HillBlazers with a different kind of branding.
Gen-O isn't yet official; the concept papers are still in draft stages. But the young New York politicos behind it envision a national movement where Obamites come together every month like wayward singles for events that have nothing explicit to do with the Illinois senator: karaoke nights, art openings, comedy events. "Think of it not only as building a fund-raising network, but building a society," says Giovanna Gray Torchio, who helped run Howard Dean's campaign apparatus in 2003. Generation O, as she explains, is the counter to the very "uncool" idea of paying a big check up front for a very touristy picture with the candidate. To get invited to their "friendraisers," you can donate as little as $25 or so, for which you'll also get 48-hour heads-up notices about official campaign fund-raisers, which tend to sell out quickly, and chances to listen in on conference calls with Obama staffers. HillBlazers don't go out for karaoke together, a Hillary rep acknowledges, but they have their own networking parties and offer chances to get on conference calls with senior campaign staff. Besides, they are also planning to target a demographic the Gen-O folks haven't mentioned in their literature: college students.
Conflicted in your loyalties? You can check both out next week: The HillBlazers roll out Hillary and Bill at Pier 94 Monday night; Gen-O's first event will be a debate-watching party at Azza Thursday night. —Geoffrey Gray