President Obama joins a last-minute, get-out-the-vote operation at his… (Carolyn Kaster / Associated…)
CHICAGO -- If there was any question how much President Obama cares about winning Wisconsin, he answered it Tuesday morning with a visit to a campaign field office.
Just before 9 a.m., as his opponent campaigned in Ohio, Obama walked into the Hyde Park office, whipped off his suit jacket and tossed it on a chair.
“Let’s get busy,” he told the campaign staffers around him, “we’ve got to round up some votes.”
Then he joined some phone bankers at a table, picked up a flip-style cellphone and made several calls to voters in Wisconsin.
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"Hi. Is this Annie? This is Barack Obama,” the president said, according to a pool report. “This is Barack Obama. You know, the president?"
"She was very nice to me even though she initially didn't know who I was," Obama said after the call.
In the final days of the campaign, the Obama team has been focusing hard on Wisconsin. There are paths to electoral victory for Obama that don’t include the northerly swing state, but the campaign wants it badly.
If he’s reelected, Obama wants to be able to claim that he carries a mandate from voters. And what better way than to win the home state of Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the architect of the House Republican budget and running mate of Republican nominee Mitt Romney?
Of course, Obama didn’t say anything about that on the phone. Well past trying to persuade Wisconsin voters to support the president, his campaign in recent days has been pouring resources into firing up volunteers in its ground operation.
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In the middle of last week, national field directors also began moving Illinois volunteers into Wisconsin to help knock on doors and get people to the polls to vote early.
“The great thing about these campaigns is after all the TV ads and all the fundraising and all the debates and all the electioneering, it comes down to this, one day,” Obama said. “And these incredible folks who are working so hard, making phone calls, making sure that people go out to vote.”
Fully in the organizing mode, Obama turned to members of the rotating pool of journalists who accompany him in his daily travels.
"Hey did you guys vote?" he asked. Some had, some hadn’t.
Obama moved on. Some of those reporters live in the Virginia battleground, but if they haven’t voted yet, it’s too late.