- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

The Clinton and Obama campaigns are scrambling today to register Pennsylvania Democrats before tonight’s deadline for the presidential primary, and they worked through the holiday weekend to add thousands of new voters to the state’s total.

They have until midnight to register new Democrats — or persuade Republicans and independents to become Democrats. Volunteers for each were out in full force to drive up the numbers.

“Even if you’re going out to bars, grab a few extra clipboards” and register more voters, Sasha, a coordinator for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told volunteers in Philadelphia Saturday night. “Hit the pavement for another hour and make sure we get every last Hillary Clinton supporter.”

Sen. Barack Obama’s supporters had their own stack of clipboards and registration forms Saturday, walking through Philadelphia’s South Street as residents shopped and ate lunch in the bustling neighborhood.

Mrs. Clinton, of New York, holds a strong lead in polls of the Keystone State, but both camps are looking to popular vote totals as they continue their bids for the nomination.

A decisive Clinton win on April 22 would bolster her argument that she wins in populous key swing states. However, if Mr. Obama, of Illinois, can drive up vote totals in the regions of Pennsylvania where he is strong, especially among college students, he can add to his current popular vote lead.

Asked if Mr. Obama can win Pennsylvania, a volunteer from the District said he doesn’t need a victory to be successful.

“If [Clinton] wins by 5 [percentage points] it shows he closed the gap because he is down by 20. It shows he’s a good campaigner,” the volunteer said.

Much of the weekend work focused on young voters. Clinton supporters from all over the Eastern Seaboard gathered at a club in Old City Philadelphia to hear from television’s “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera.

She told them there is nothing she would rather be doing than campaigning for Mrs. Clinton and that supporters should aim for nothing short of “100 percent of young voters going to the polls.”

“Some people may think one candidate has the monopoly on the youth vote,” agreed Jehmu Greene, president of Rock the Vote and a Clinton supporter. She said voters should be “looking past the noise” associated with Mr. Obama.

Actor Kal Penn, recently in the film “The Namesake” but probably best known for his role in “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” has been campaigning for Mr. Obama for months.

He spent Saturday at the University of Pittsburgh, joined by actor and Pennsylvania native Zachary Quinto of television’s “Heroes.”

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Mr. Quinto, 30, told the students: “Do not be silent. Instead, be the ordinary Americans who come together to make an extraordinary difference.”

Obama volunteers were spotted all over the state registering young people and handing out “Students for Barack Obama” fliers that included invitations to join the campaign’s text-messaging mailing list.

The Clinton campaign did a series of rallies and phone banks dubbed the “Final Four” days of voter registration, playing on college basketball’s March Madness tournament.

Clinton volunteers did statewide door-knocking and held signs for “visibility” events all over the state.

Retail workers along South Street in Philadelphia were mixed in their support, and some said they were not interested in the upcoming election, but the T-shirt shop called Imagine had sold several “Obama 4 Yo Mama” shirts and was offering no Clinton garb. Obama radio ads were heard between hip-hop songs played over the loudspeakers in several shops.

Much of the action was between campaign volunteers, who had several confrontations in Philadelphia over the weekend.

A man walking by a line for the Ferrera event started chanting “Obama, Obama,” which prompted Clinton supporters to shout him down with “Obama for VP.”

The man stopped to argue his case, saying that nominating Mrs. Clinton would mean a win for “dynastic politics,” and that would ultimately lead to “President McCain.” The Clinton supporters told him Mrs. Clinton does not represent a dynasty and dismissed the McCain talk.

Despite Mrs. Clinton’s wide lead in Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama’s campaign will “fight as hard as we can [and] try to do as well as we can there and as well as we can in the remaining 10 contests,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters this morning.

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