Can Any Republican Compete With Obama’s Grassroots Network? — VIDEO

Feb. 24, 2012, 9:30 a.m.

When it comes to the ground game, Pres­id­ent Obama has a leg up on Mitt Rom­ney, who has been en­cumbered by an ex­ten­ded primary fight.

Beth Re­in­hard writes in the most re­cent is­sue of Na­tion­al Journ­al magazine:

Blessed with the perks of in­cum­bency, Obama is clearly tak­ing ad­vant­age of the on­go­ing and un­pre­dict­able Re­pub­lic­an primary to hit the ground run­ning. In 2008, he was the first Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee to win Vir­gin­ia since 1964, and the state is viewed as one of the most cru­cial battle­grounds of 2012. The pres­id­ent seems poised there and in oth­er swing states to run an equally ag­gress­ive ground game that mo­bil­izes po­ten­tial foot sol­diers early and of­ten.

In con­trast, Rom­ney has lacked the time, in­cent­ive, money, and grass­roots en­thu­si­asm to start build­ing a ground game that could com­pete with the pres­id­ent. In Vir­gin­ia, for ex­ample, Ron Paul will be the only oth­er name on the pres­id­en­tial bal­lot on Tues­day; Newt Gin­grich and Rick San­tor­um failed to col­lect enough sig­na­tures to qual­i­fy. And Rom­ney’s cam­paign had oth­er press­ing con­cerns, with show­downs against San­tor­um in Ari­zona and Michigan tak­ing pri­or­ity over Vir­gin­ia.

In the con­ver­sa­tion be­low, Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Ma­jor Gar­rett and The At­lantic‘s Molly Ball dis­cuss Obama’s edge. Click through to hear them talk about Rom­ney’s lack of a grass­roots net­work, the be­ne­fit of 20 GOP de­bates, and their memor­ies of liv­ing and re­port­ing in Las Ve­gas.

Video by Theresa Poulson and Jen­nie Rothen­berg-Gritz, The At­lantic