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President Obama campaign launching in Utah

Published: Saturday, Feb. 4 2012 4:18 p.m. MST

President Obama supporters attend the Barack Obama Utah 2012 Kickoff Event at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday, February 4, 2012. The event was both a campaign kickoff and a volunteer training session that included updates on campaign tactics and how to harness the energy in Utah.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — While Barack Obama's chance of winning Utah in the 2012 Presidential election seem like a long shot in conservative-leaning Utah, supporters of his re-election are preparing to help him try.

About 100 people gathered on the University of Utah campus Saturday to begin laying the groundwork for the President's November run. And though Utah is among the "reddest of the red states" nationally, local volunteers still believe working for Obama in the Beehive state is a worthwhile endeavor.

"I've always been politically active and liberal, but I've also always truly believed in the message of Obama," said Leela Baggett, 21, a U. of U. political science graduate.

Avenues resident Kurt Bagley, 24, said the President's impact on the nation's economy has been underrated and he believes that the country would be better served if Obama were re-elected.

"In Utah specifically, the policies that he has tried to create for small businesses will really benefit the Salt Lake community and Utah," he said.

"The political arena is very polarized right now," Bagley said. "People have taken partisanship to a whole new level … and while we are different parties, we have to cooperate to get America going in the right direction."

The Obama campaign's national training director Sara El-Amine said volunteers and staff will be on the ground in all 50 states with plans to grow into 20,000 neighborhood teams across the country. She also noted the campaign for the President in Utah will require some hard work and creativity to have the desired impact.

"We're teaching people how to talk one-on-one with residents who might want to become involved in the re-election effort, conducting house meetings to develop neighborhood teams and phone banking — our core method of reaching out to voters and talking to them about where they stand," she said.

El-Amine said that during President Obama's first term, the nation has experienced some "purely American victories" that are strong indicators of the positive direction the country has been moving.

"We ended the war in Iraq, brought our troops home … killed Osama Bin Laden. That is a victory for every single American whether you are Democrat, Republican or independent," she explained.

The grassroots nature of Obama's first election was a surprise to many political observers, but this time will require an even more concerted state by state effort, according to Igor Limansky, Utah state director of Obama for America.

It's an ambitious undertaking and a big departure from ordinary political organizations, he said.

"We believe in a model of organizing where everyone who supports this campaign has an important role to play," said Limansky.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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