by Kevin Flynn - Sunday November 2 2008 09:19:48 AM
From the New York Times:
Senators John McCain and Barack Obama began their final push for the White House on Saturday across an electoral map markedly different from four years ago, evidence of Mr. Obama’s success at putting new states into contention and limiting Mr. McCain’s options in the final hours.
Mr. Obama was using the last days of the contest to make incursions into Republican territory, campaigning Saturday in three states — Colorado, Missouri and Nevada — that President Bush won relatively comfortably in 2004.
Across the country, there was abundant evidence of just how much excitement the contest had stirred: In Colorado, 46 percent of the electorate has already voted in that state’s early voting program. Voters in states like Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Virginia were getting knocks on their doors, telephone calls and leaflets slipped under their windshield wipers.
...“After 12 months and three debates,” Mr. Obama said in Henderson, Nev., “John McCain has not been able to tell the American people a single major thing that he would do different from George Bush on the economy.”
...The campaign’s final days brought a reminder of how Mr. Obama’s financial might had allowed him to redraw the political map. In addition to the states he visited on Saturday, Mr. Obama was planning stops Sunday in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, which went Republican four years ago.
From the Missouri News-Leader:
"Yes we can," Obama said, his slogan across 21 months of campaigning.
...Obama was in Nevada, then Colorado and Missouri, all states that voted for President Bush four years ago. Obama's visit to Colorado marked his sixth trip to the swing state since he clinched his party's nomination in June.
...When Obama arrived in Pueblo, Colo., his family was waiting for him on the tarmac, wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha. Obama kissed his wife, hugged his daughters.
"We are three days away from bringing fundamental change to the United States of America," Obama said. He told the crowd not to let up. "Not when so much is at stake," he said.
...Campaigning in Missouri became a family affair for Obama, who appeared on stage with his wife and daughters before tens of thousands gathered on a high school football field in Springfield, Mo. The location was in Green County, where 62 percent of voters cast ballots for Bush four years ago.
"After eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush," Obama started, sparking a chorus of boos from the crowd at the president's name. "We don't need to boo, we just need to vote," he responded.
...Obama seized on Cheney's fresh endorsement of McCain, praising the vice president for climbing out of his "undisclosed location."
"I'd like to congratulate Sen. McCain on this endorsement, because he really earned it," Obama said in Pueblo, Colo. "That endorsement didn't come easy. Sen. McCain had to vote with George Bush 90 percent of the time and agree with Dick Cheney to get it."
Like Obama and McCain, the vice presidential running mates campaigned toward the finish line.
Sen. Joe Biden was in Indiana, another traditionally Republican state where Democrats are running hard, and later in Ohio, a competitive state. He accused Republicans of "trying to take the low road to the highest office in the land. They are calling Barack Obama every name in the book."
...Early voting statistics were large, and tilted Democratic. In North Carolina, officials said 2.3 million ballots had been cast as of Saturday morning, 52 percent of them by Democrats and 30 percent by Republicans.
In Missouri, spokesman Justin Hamilton said Obama's campaign had agreements with cab companies across the state to provide Election Day rides to the polls for any voter who wanted one.
He said the callers would not be asked how they intended to vote.
From the Kansas City Star:
More than 100 Obama supporters have cut through Saturday’s thick fog to await last-minute instructions at campaign headquarters in midtown Kansas City.
Some have coffee and donuts before starting phone calls or marching through neighborhoods, looking for votes.
“This is kind of our rehearsal for Tuesday,” said volunteer Jackie Gafford. “Everybody knows what they need to do.”
“I might not have done this in Kansas, with all their early voting,” said volunteer Caroline McKnight, who will be making phone calls for Obama. “But they’re really excited in Missouri to get out on Election Day.”
...Obama has the biggest political ground effort in Missouri’s history.
“These are all folks now, no matter what happens November 4, who are really engaged in their communities,” said Buffy Wicks, Obama state director.
Penny Hershman is one of Obama’s 250 neighborhood leaders in Jackson County. There are 2,500 of them in the state, workers who have been trained in political outreach — after promising to work a minimum of 20 hours each week for the Democrat.
Hershman stopped last week at the south Kansas City home of Mark Bureman, who quickly told her she would not have to work too hard. Bureman was firmly onboard with Obama.
“This is going to be an easy house for you,” he said.
Hershman asked whether Bureman and his wife, Linda, could volunteer to make phone calls at Obama headquarters over the weekend. Check and check. Both signed up for shifts.
Being from the area helps, Hershman said. “You say, ‘I’m Penny, and I’m from the neighborhood.’ I think they respond to you a little better.”
...The campaign has established a sophisticated, computer-based outreach program — all data wind up getting poured into a big database in Chicago — that climaxes this weekend.
Campaign staff leadership has been divided into 400 similar teams. A team supervisor works with coordinators of canvassing, data processing, volunteer recruitment and phone banks. The teams are in charge of a particular area and keep meticulous notes about each contact made, either in person or over the phone.
...“There’s been this disconnect,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat and Obama supporter. “There’s not been a focus on connecting people who want to be a part of the campaign to the campaign.”
The tools, of course, have changed. Door knocks and phone calls have been added to cell phone outreach and text-messaging, a technological advantage that has brought the Obama campaign millions of dollars and thousands of extra volunteers.