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Obama reverts to community organizer mode on election day

November 06, 2012|By Christi Parsons

CHICAGO – While Mitt Romney spends election day as a candidate, stumping for votes in swing states, President Obama is reverting to an older role from his past – community organizer. 

He started the day on Tuesday with an email that amounts to a field memo, in which he reminds supporters how a turnout operation works on the big day.

“Once you vote today, keep going,” Obama writes. “Get on the phone, get online – all day long, there will be something you can do to help.”

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He includes links to help people find their polling place and also to work a volunteer shift with Obama for America, all under a subject line that reads: “Go vote – and forward this.”

Obama also plans to do several satellite television interviews to encourage supporters.

He may also make some calls and visit volunteers in whose hands he now says the election rests. In the final analysis, the story of the 2012 election will include a big chapter on the Obama ground game operation.

That network has been in development for more than two years, driven by campaign manager Jim Messina and national field director Jeremy Bird.

But those two always say the organizing philosophy comes from Obama, who began his career as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side.

Obama was in that mode late Monday when he visited a campaign office in Columbus, Ohio, where he told staffers and volunteers that “the TV stuff doesn’t matter because you guys are what make this campaign.”

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Then Obama admonished a campaign worker who asked for a picture with the president.

“We’re gonna do pictures with everybody,” he said, according to a pool report filed by the New York Times’ Helene Cooper, who was among a small number of journalists admitted to the room. “You’re a field organizer. You gotta be looking out for your volunteers.”

Then he sat down and started making phones calls to encourage a few volunteers.

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