The Washington Times - November 3, 2008, 06:50PM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. I attended this morning the very last Barack Obama for President 2008 rally I will ever cover.



I’ll be in Chicago tomorrow for Election Night, but at that point it will no longer be a campaign speech.


Obama is playing it safe and keeping to his standard stump, but started the speech with some praise for McCain (see my Web story here) and altered his countdown from “two words” to just one: “Tomorrow.”


Here’s some video I shot of Obama taking the stage before about 9,000 people. There are rarely empty seats at Obama events, though this one was on a Monday morning and in a Republican part of the state.





As many readers may know, I am no longer on the campaign plane.


I have followed Obama across the country since leaving the plane Saturday. It’s a logisitical hassle, but I’ve been able to spot some things that members of the traveling press often miss because they are waiting on a bus.


When I left the bubble Saturday in Henderson, Nevada, I came across hundreds of out-of-state volunteers doing a training for a door-to-door canvass. They’d been tucked away out of sight of the event and were focused on their precinct maps and instructions for door-knocking.


I also came across a man in this classic costume.



Meanwhile, the Obama team is making its final push in each battleground state. Things look good in the polls and in the skies as clear weather is forecast just about everywhere.


The campaign is making sure voters know the rules for polling places in each state.


The Ohio team put out a memo urging people to consider showing up mid-morning or early afternoon when the polls aren’t so crowd and reminding them to bring photo ID. (Our post on campaign clothing here.)


Al Gore put in his get-out-the-vote message today to the Obama mailing list, reminding people, “In 2000, the entire election came down to a small number of votes in one county in Florida” and “Four years later, we came up short by an average of nine voters per precinct in Ohio.”


He asked supporters to sign up for an Election Day volunteer shift. “It’s up to each of us to make sure we turn this movement for change into millions of more votes on Election Day,” the former vice president said.


Here’s a partial account from a San Francisco resident who went to Denver to volunteer for Obama:

When I was in Santa Fe and Albuquerque last week with my sister, the excitement about the election was too much— SO much going on with the Obama campaign there. Living in totally-blue California, we just don’t see that side of the election (at least I hadn’t). So, Friday night I decided to fly to Denver and volunteer for a couple days.
I spent this afternoon canvassing in the suburbs near my Aunt and Uncle’s house. Of the people we talked to, the vast majority were Obama supporters and a TON have already voted. Many Obama supporters thanked us for stopping by. No one was rude or inconsiderate — although, one guy told us he’d rather eat glass than vote for Obama, although he was really quite nice when he said it. :)
I can’t say that my few hours alone are going to tip the election one way or another, but I feel lucky to get to be involved at this level and it is pretty amazing to see how organized the campaign is on the ground and how many people have put their lives on hold to make this happen. The guy who gave us the lesson on canvassing has been here for 5 months. There are 2,000 people from California who have traveled to Denver (at their own cost) to volunteer. We were based out of a couple’s house this afternoon—they have basically given over their home to be a mini Obama headquarters the last month of the campaign.
The campaign has an amazingly well orchestrated county-by-county, neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach and are turning out a ton of first-time voters. I’m impressed with every detail. Apparently people will be reporting from the polls on Tuesday via text message to ID individuals when they vote (so they can be taken off the call lists).
They know that Colorado could come down to just a handful of voters in one or more of the counties, so the campaign here is focused on getting every single Obama supporter to vote—knowing that there may be 3 hour lines on Tuesday!
I’m really delighted to get to devote some time to this the last few days. I know lots of you are volunteering as well. If you’re not and have just an hour or two to spare, check it out—the organization, passion and excitment is unbelievable.


Here are our stories from the trail Saturday, Sunday and today, along with my project looking at how technology has shaped the race of a generation.


Just before the Florida rally, Obama got the sad news that his grandmother had passed away. (My story here.) He is about to speak in Charlotte and may discuss her passing.


Finally, a hearty congrats to Team Obama’s Emmett Beliveau, who welcomed a healthy daughter into the world this morning. It was yet another surprise from this long campaign season: She was supposed to wait until after Election Day.


Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times


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