McCain, Obama Campaigns Work Down to the Wire

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Supporters of the Obama-Biden presidential ticket scheduled a “Yes We Carve” event at Ohio State University today. The carvers are creating Obama inspired jack-o-lanterns. It was one of many Get-Out-The-Vote efforts to inspire the less motivated to go to the polls. Both the Republican and Democratic campaigns are ratcheting up their efforts to reach as many voters as they can by November 4th.

For the past few days the Ohio State Oval has seen plenty of electioneering. Workers for John McCain and Barack Obama are greeting as many students as they can.

“Hey there, are you an Obama supporter?”

While a volunteer hands out Obama stickers, a campaign employee is asking for volunteers to work at the Obama campaign headquarters just off campus on High Street.

“Hey guys, while you’re here do you think you have an hour to participate in the most historic election of your lifetime? This is not a class project. Please, we’ve got four days left, man. No time? You’re going to be working twice as hard if McCain’s elected.”

The Barack Obama organizing effort is unprecedented. Statewide, the campaign has made nearly 700,000 telephone calls and it claims that volunteers have knocked on 850,000 doors, that with a volunteer staff of nearly 10,000 people. Here in Columbus, the campaign is shuttling students from OSU to Veterans Memorial. Tom Konitzei is an Obama Neighborhood Team Leader.

“The early voting location is about 4 or 5 miles down the road and students don’t have cars so we have a shuttle bus so they can early vote if they’d like to avoid lines if they have class on Election Day, says Konitzei. “We run the shuttle bus because they really don’t have any way to get in there.”

Anthony Labario is a volunteer who drives one of the Obama shuttles.

“I shuttle voters down from Ohio State to the Veterans Memorial where you can do in-person absentee balloting and then shuttle them back to and from campus.”

In 2004, the surprisingly strong Republican get-out-the-vote effort is credited with helping George Bush win Ohio and thus helping him win re-election. The GOP won’t release the number of volunteers working in this year’s McCain-Palin election bid, but it does say that it has 80 employees in the state. The number of field offices, though, is lop-sided. John McCain has only 45; Barack Obama has 90. But getting out the vote requires persistence – and feet on the ground.

Colleen O’Kane is a 21 year old University of Dayton student. She’s a volunteer who’s been working 10 to 12 hour days since June on behalf of John McCain. Here she’s knocking on doors in a middle class neighborhood in Fairfield just north of Cincinnati.

O’Kane usually works in the Butler County Republican Campaign Headquarters in the phone bank where volunteer solicitors gently ask voters if they’ve returned their absentee ballots.

“Hi is this John? I’m calling on behalf of the Ohio Republican Party. On behalf of John McCain, Sarah Palin and the entire Republican team we’re respectfully asking for your vote…”

Both campaigns will continue to ask for votes right up til the polls close next Tuesday.

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