Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama Puts Money and Manpower in Florida

The caption is of Barack Obama speaking in Florida (with FAMU Marching Band).

"By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama's campaign is pouring $39 million into Florida and sending some of its most senior people there in a bid to win the 27 electoral votes of a state that has voted Republican in the last two presidential elections.

Florida is considered a must-win state for Republican candidate John McCain, and polls show the race is close, less than three weeks before Election Day.

``There's an opening we see in Florida, and we like our chances,'' Temo Figueroa, national Latino vote director for Obama, an Illinois Democrat, said in an interview. Hispanics represent 14 percent of the electorate in Florida, making them a key to victory in this battleground state.
Paul Tewes, who directed Obama's victory in Iowa's caucuses in January, has relocated to Florida for the duration of the campaign. Tewes left the Democratic National Committee, where he coordinated efforts with the Obama camp.

Obama's deputy national campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, has been in Florida since last week, and Figueroa will join him this weekend.

Florida has 415,000 newly registered Democrats, about 50,000 more than newly registered Republicans, according to estimates based on the secretary of state's data. Tewes, Figueroa and Hildebrand want to ensure the new Democrats make it to the voting booths on Nov. 4.

``The polling trends have been going our way for the last month,'' Figueroa said.
A CNN/Time poll conducted in Florida from Oct. 11-14 has Obama leading McCain 51 percent to 46 percent. A Fox/Rasmussen poll on Oct. 12 found an identical spread.
Twice the Ads
Obama is running twice as many television advertisements and three times as many radio ads as McCain in Spanish-language media in Florida, Figueroa said.

``You're going to see lots of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden and Jill Biden on the ground in Florida'' for the remainder of the campaign, he said. ``If we win Florida, Barack Obama is president. There's no way for John McCain to win without Florida.''
Mike DuHaime, McCain's national political director, said the Arizona senator's campaign is vigorously contesting the state.

Voters in the coming days ``are going to see a lot of Governor Sarah Palin, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Joe Lieberman and other prominent surrogates,'' he said.
McCain himself is scheduled to address rallies tomorrow in Miami and Melbourne.
Absentee Ballots

DuHaime said the campaign's TV and radio ads, direct-mail efforts and get-out-the-vote drives in Florida will carry a price-tag in the ``tens of millions'' of dollars, although he declined to be more specific.

He also said 218,000 more Republicans than Democrats so far have requested absentee ballots, which he said is a promising sign for McCain's hopes of carrying Florida.
Cuban-Americans, a reliably Republican voting bloc in South Florida, are among those likely to vote for McCain.

Still, Figueroa said Obama has openings with the growing number of Puerto Ricans in Orlando and Tampa, and with other new immigrants in South Florida who have largely registered and voted for Democrats.

This is the first election year that Cuban-Americans are no longer the majority of Hispanic registered voters in Florida, according to state figures.

``People in Florida are worried about their jobs, their pensions, their mortgages, they get angry every time they gas up,'' Figueroa said. ``We're going to fight like hell for every vote.'' "

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