Best Ground Game in Iowa? Obama for America!

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This is exactly what I was so in awe of back in '07 & '08.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- One presidential campaign claims an impressive effort in Iowa this year: eight offices opened, 350,000 phone calls to potential supporters and 1,280 events to recruit and train volunteers.

It's not Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul. It's Obama for America, the president's re-election campaign, which badly wants to win this battleground state in November, as it did in 2008.

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Obama can coast as far as this year's nomination is concerned. But Iowa remains a general election swing state, and no one assumes his 9-point win here over John McCain in 2008 will give him a cushion next November. It's a long, detailed, interesting article so read the whole thing.

Obama's campaign never entirely left Iowa or several other competitive states, where he hopes relentless organizing can overcome a weak economy and his mixed record of fulfilling campaign pledges in the face of strong GOP opposition in Congress. If thousands of volunteers flocked to Obama's 2008 campaign, this time he's having to work a bit harder to recruit and energize them.

"People say, 'The mood is different this time, it's not the same,'" said Peggy Whitworth, an Obama volunteer in Cedar Rapids. "Well of course it's not the same. But it's not about mood or feeling. It's about the future of the country."

Whitworth, 69, said she joins other Obama volunteers four hours every Tuesday night, and sometimes on other evenings as well, to telephone potential supporters. Many say they will vote for Obama again, she said, and some volunteer to help the campaign. But some are disappointed or angry that the president fell short on campaign promises such as ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, and bringing a greater spirit of bipartisanship to Washington.

"Sometimes they simply want to have someone listen to them," Whitworth said. Most say they will stick with Obama after they've had a chance to vent their frustrations, she said.

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In activities that rarely compete with the hoopla of the GOP nominating contest, Obama's campaign has placed a handful of paid staffers in each of several key states. They try to leverage their clout by recruiting and training scores of volunteers. The volunteers, in turn, knock on doors, organize house parties and, above all, place phone calls to voters in hopes of identifying likely Obama supporters and tracking them through Election Day.

In a tortoise-versus-hare strategy, Obama supporters hope their steady chugging will build support precinct by precinct, town by town, while Republicans spend resources chasing the nomination for a few more weeks or months. The Republican candidates and their broadcast ads are flooding Iowa this week, but they will abruptly shift to New Hampshire on Jan. 4, the day after the caucuses.

"The Republicans are here today, gone tomorrow," said Obama volunteer Pat Walters, of Johnston, a suburb of Des Moines. "We've been doing this since 2009."

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