3/2/08

Scribes term union organizers 'volunteers'

Bundling up against a winter breeze, Barack Obama supporter Susan Gross checked her notes a final time Saturday before leaving the parking lot of Greater Liberty Temple Church on the city’s north side to start knocking on doors. On the west side, new citizen and first-time voter Frederick Pay, a Hillary Clinton backer, walked the streets for about two hours, tallying 50 houses before his morning shift ended.

Saturday and Sunday were not days for Ohio residents to expect uninterrupted stretches on the couch watching TV.

With three days to go before the state’s pivotal primary, the Obama and Clinton campaigns enlisted hundreds of volunteers for get-out-the-vote efforts around Ohio. They even competed over titles.

Clinton embarked on an “88 Counties, 88 Hours To Victory” tour, promising events in the state’s 88 counties during the last 88 hours before polls open Tuesday.

Obama announced “One Million for Change,” an attempt to knock on one million doors before Tuesday. Volunteers planned to leave from 75 staging locations around the state beginning Saturday.

Sen. Clinton needs a win in Ohio, a crucial swing state, to break Obama’s streak of 11 consecutive primary and caucus victories. A win for Sen. Obama, who trails Clinton in state polls, would give him a boost in the argument over who could defeat a Republican in November.

Gross, 67, was one of hundreds of Washington, D.C.-area residents who rode buses into Columbus on Friday to join a weekend of canvassing. The management consultant said she hadn’t worked for a presidential campaign since Lyndon Johnson’s first campaign in 1964.

“No one has turned me on really since then until now,” Gross said. “I am certain that Sen. Obama shares the same values and vision of America that I do.”

Pay, 42, originally from Ghana, settled on Clinton after carefully studying the campaigns since becoming a U.S. citizen last summer.

“She’ll be the better person to do this right from day one,” Pay said. “She has the experience and that’s why I’m passionate about this.”

Such get-out-the-vote efforts are staples of last-minute campaigning. Volunteers stress the strengths of their preferred candidate while encouraging people to vote regardless of who they’re supporting.

The campaigns’ weekend efforts complemented repeat visits to the state by the candidates and their top surrogates.

In Cincinnati, former congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume briefly addressed about 40 Obama supporters Saturday morning before they began knocking on doors.

Actor Kal Penn held events for Obama Friday and Saturday at several colleges, including Ohio University, Denison University and Ohio Wesleyan University. Penn has appeared on the Fox TV medical drama “House” and starred in the movie, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.”

Former President Bill Clinton attended a rallies Saturday in the northeast Ohio cities of Kirtland and Lakewood. Also Saturday, Chelsea Clinton planned rallies at the University of Akron and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Obama planned a rally Saturday night at a high school in Parma Heights in suburban Cleveland. Both Hillary Clinton and Obama planned events in Westerville in suburban Columbus today.

Over the weekend, the Ohio Student Public Interest Research Group undertook its own get-out-the-vote efforts in college precincts to encourage students to vote and inform them about their rights.

Clinton supporter Vicki Nichols was spending several hours Saturday walking up and down the streets of her neighborhoods in suburban Columbus. She met fellow Clinton backers, Obama supporters willing to listen and a few undecideds.

“I’ve never done it before, and it’s not that easy. I often get discouraged,” said Nichols, 54, a computer systems developer. “But I feel committed to this. It’s an important thing to be doing.”

For her part, Obama supporter Lynne Horning, 68, wasn’t daunted by the prospect of knocking on doors in a new city. Horning, a potter, came to Columbus on Friday from Washington, D.C. with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons.

“I’ll do anything,” Horning said Saturday as she left a union hall staging area for her first assignment. “I’m passionate about this guy.”

(vindy.com)

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