from the National Association of Counties (more)

2008 Presidential Election Project Summary

NACo, in partnership with the state associations of counties, has launched the 2008 Presidential Election Project to reach candidates seeking to become President of the United States of America in 2008 and get them to focus on county issues.

The goal of the project, which is a non-partisan effort, is for all of the candidates to hear the same message from county officials on key issues. Hearing the same message from county officials, who are leaders in their communities, will encourage the candidates to focus on these issues as part of their campaigns.

The project is concentrating on Iowa and New Hampshire, the states where the first caucus and primary will be held. These states were also chosen because the candidates meet with county officials in their homes, in local coffee shops and at county facilities. County officials have one-on-one discussions with the candidates because of the process in these states.

The plan is for the NACo staff to find out when candidates are campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire and alert county officials in those states about meetings and events. NACo will encourage county officials to meet with the candidates and even host events. NACo will provide talking points on two or three key issues to the county officials and ask them to discuss these issues with the candidates.

NACo President-Elect Colleen Landkamer and Second Vice President Don Stapley are leading the project. President-Elect Landkamer and NACo staff visited Iowa in September 2005 and New Hampshire in November 2005 to meet with county officials and discuss how to make the project work.

The project is endorsed by all of the state associations of counties in the country. NACo is working directly with the Iowa State Association of Counties and the New Hampshire Association of Counties.

In the past, NACo has not been successful getting presidential candidates to focus on county issues. The association has tried platform hearings, news conferences and scheduling meetings with candidates, but started too late and could not get the candidates’ attention. Since the candidates are now campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, NACo has begun working on the project and will continue through the election in 2008.