Obama's turnout operation turned reliably red Virginia blue in 2008 and has a massive head start this year. But the GOP won't be taken by surprise again.
RICHMOND, Va. -- In the days and weeks leading up to President Obama's Saturday campaign kick-off rally here, his army was hard at work.
In Arlington, a Washington suburb two hours' drive from Richmond, 10 Obama die-hards ranging in age from 18 to 64 had spent their Thursday night on cheap cell phones, reading from papers labeled "POTUS/FLOTUS in Virginia Recruitment Sheet" and ringing a bell every time they got a commitment to attend. In Charlottesville, a University of Virginia student named Lauren Bryant personally made 80 phone calls in the days preceding the event, then convinced her 37-year-old cousin Nathan Rodgers, a not-particularly-politically-active Richmond-area liberal, to go with her. On Friday night, Valerie Salaam, a 51-year-old Richmond-area project manager who donated her money but not her time in 2008, was among a few hundred volunteers who gathered at the event site to be trained, and was assigned ticket-taker duty.
In this pivotal swing state, the Obama reelection campaign was revving up for its first test drive.
In the small Tidewater town of Surry, two Obama-supporting independents, 59-year-old Nancy Rodrigues and 71-year-old Mike Abley, had gotten an email weeks before from the Senate campaign of Democrat Tim Kaine, the former governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and started making plans. In Vienna, just outside the Washington Beltway, a neighborhood team of eight women who'd been meeting at each other's houses since January made plans to carpool. The campaign distributed glossy, full-color, beautifully designed tickets at its 13 offices around the state -- not because tickets were actually required to get in (they weren't), but to make people feel like they ought to show up.