Obama supporters in overdrive to get early votes

By Philip Elliott

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Romney's newfound momentum after his strong debate performance also helps him nationally. Republican officials say they have seen floods of new visitors to offices, with the RNC-Romney headquarters in Orlando, Fla., giving out twice as many yard signs as any other day and volunteers waiting outside to get in to make phone calls. In Nevada, new faces were waiting to volunteer when aides unlocked the doors at 8 a.m. And staff in Virginia made a push for supporters to recruit new volunteers to capitalize on the new buzz.

Republican officials say they will make contact with 5 million voters this week alone — the largest one-week total this year so far. A large share of that will come from the 2 million phone calls they plan on Saturday. Many of those calls will come from volunteers in Washington and Maryland who deploy for up-for-grab states Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina.

Republicans expect that their tallies at the end of the weekend will show volunteers have knocked on 6 million doors this year and spoken to more than 35 million voters.

Obama backers refuse to cede ground in their quest to turn out every voter they can.

Not registered to vote? Obama's team can help. Registered but not sure about plans on Election Day? Obama's campaign can mail you a ballot. Forget to return the ballot? Obama's volunteers offer a reminder. Need a ride to the polls? Obama's volunteers can drive.

Obama's volunteers appear to be having impact. Democrats report an almost 4-to-1 advantage among voters asking for ballots by mail in Iowa.

The vigor among the ranks appears to grow as Election Day nears.

"It's our time to go out and lace up our sneakers, put on our walking shoes," Norma Comstock, 71, a leader in the campaign's Sioux City office, said recently as she gave her fellow volunteers a pep talk. "This isn't a sure thing. We've got to fight every day between now and Nov. 6 so President Obama can keep fighting for us."

The other volunteers nodded and applauded.

Later, Comstock confided that she was worried about the president's re-election prospects, saying: "I'm really nervous. I was not last time."

Not that nerves are keeping volunteers from working hard; just the opposite, in fact. They're leaving nothing to chance, even going so far as to search for Democratic voters in this conservative swath.

Heidi Guggisberg-Coners, a Council Bluffs resident who is running as a Democrat for the Iowa House, has knocked on 7,000 doors in her district since June partly because of worries about Obama's turnout. "He will win some voters here, sure," she said. "But I wouldn't want this to be his firewall."

Volunteers also aren't resting on the notion that Obama will win; they brush aside polls that show Obama building a lead over Romney in this state.

"I don't think anything is a foregone conclusion," says Jill Slaughter, a nurse who spends her weekends knocking on doors for Obama and another night or two a week making calls. "You work until you can't do anything more."

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