Washington Babylon — February 9, 2009, 3:52 pm

Local Media Barred From Plouffe Speech in Azerbaijan

As I reported here yesterday, David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, jetted off to Azerbaijan to give a speech at a university. Plouffe claimed he went to the country simply to talk about democracy — though his trip was sponsored by a bogus front group tied to the country’s ruling despot and his speech to fifty people at a university in Baku was closed to the press. “Journalists were told to leave the auditorium at Gerb (Western) University before Plouffe gave a speech on the 2008 U.S. presidential election and ‘the power of democracy’,” radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported today.

Incidentally, Plouffe’s appearance in Azerbaijan looks to be his debut on the public speaking circuit. Check out his new listing at the Washington Speakers Bureau:

After winning the election on November 4, 2008, President Obama called his campaign manager, David Plouffe, “the unsung hero” who built the best political campaign in the history of the United States. Plouffe is widely credited with masterminding the winning strategy and building a team that delivered unprecedented results. With humor, passion and intelligence, Plouffe shares:

The inside story about how Obama was elected president.

How success hinged on a fundamental belief in the candidate and the strategy.

A look ahead to the administration’s next steps and the movement the campaign created.

Update from the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager intends to give away the fee he received from a paid private speech he made Monday in the oil-rich but authoritarian nation of Azerbaijan.

The speech was arranged by lobbyists working with a group that has ties to the Azerbaijan government, according to people familiar with the matter. But a close associate of David Plouffe said he only learned of their involvement after he had already embarked for the Caspian Sea nation.

Mr. Plouffe now intends to donate his speaking fee, which the associate said is in the range of $50,000, to groups that advocate democratization in the turbulent post-Soviet states of the region around the Caspian and Caucasus mountain range. Mr. Plouffe also plans to share the contents of the speech with opposition groups.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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