- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top officials at the Republican National Committee and the Mitt Romney presidential campaign on Tuesday touted the GOP’s surpassing 4 million voter contacts in Virginia, which includes seven times the number of phone calls and 11 times as many as door knocks at this point in 2008.

The memo from RNC political director Rick Wiley was distributed Tuesday, as national polls also shifted toward Mr. Romney. It said GOP “Victory Offices” have seen a 63 percent increase in volunteer traffic since last Wednesday’s presidential debate. This past weekend, the party also began deploying busloads of volunteers to a handful of swing states, including Virginia.

“After last week’s debate … especially in Virginia, we’ve had a new surge of enthusiasm on our side,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said on a conference call with reporters. “In 2012, we’ve matched the Obama campaign volunteer for volunteer, door knock for door knock and phone call for phone call.”

Indeed, Romney political director Rich Beeson said that though the Obama campaign may have more offices and staff, he’s confident their targeting strategy will make up the difference.

“We choose to work smarter and simpler,” Mr. Beeson said, adding that both public and private polling have showed that the number of people who say they’ve been contacted is virtually equal on both sides.
“These aren’t numbers that can be fudged or made-up,” Mr. Priebus said.

The coordinated effort between the RNC, the Romney campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia is a far cry from 2008, when there was reportedly significant friction between state party then-chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick on the one hand, and John McCain’s presidential campaign and the RNC on the other.

Frustrations hit a tipping point when Mr. Frederick, in mid-October, joked to volunteers that then-candidate Obama and Osama bin Laden “both have friends who bombed the Pentagon,” a reference to the Weather Underground member Bill Ayers.

In contrast, Mr. Wiley said 2012 has been a well-oiled machine.

“All in all, we are extraordinarily proud of our ground-game operation, extremely thankful for the work of our volunteers and incredibly confident in the results of our efforts,” he wrote. “As I’ve written before, we have the most sophisticated turnout program ever put on the field in Republican politics.”

Adam Hodge, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, however, wasn’t buying it.

“Mitt Romney and the Republicans must think Virginians have short memories,” Mr. Hodge said. “Just a week after we learned that the company the Republicans had been paying to do voter contact in Virginia was under investigation for voter fraud, the Republicans are now bragging about their voter outreach statistics. While [the] Romney campaign has been paying political consultants to knock on doors and send out robocalls, Obama supporters have been working for more than three years to organize their neighborhoods, recruit new volunteers and build the largest grassroots campaign in history.”

Mr. Hodge was referring to the Virginia-based company Strategic Allied Consulting, which is being investigated over irregularities with voter registration forms in Florida. The Republican Party of Virginia has dropped the company after paying it in August for voter registration activities, and Republican groups in such other swing states as Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio have done likewise. The company, for its part, said the problem arose from a single rogue contractor that has since been fired.

A survey released Sunday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed President Obama with a 3-point lead in Virginia, 50 percent to 47 percent. The lead was within the poll’s margin of error of 3.6 points, however, and was down from the five-point lead Mr. Obama enjoyed last month.

After delivering a foreign policy speech Monday in Lexington, Mr. Romney paid a surprise visit to elementary school students in Fairfield before appearing in pouring rain at a campaign stop in Newport News.

He is also scheduled to campaign in Richmond on Friday — a day after his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, squares off with Vice President Joseph R. Biden in the only vice presidential debate of the campaign.

First lady Michelle Obama made a campaign stop in Loudoun County in Northern Virginia on Tuesday. Mr. Obama became the first Democrat in more than 40 years to carry the state in 2008 when he defeated Mr. McCain, and is battling furiously to keep the Old Dominion’s 13 electoral votes in his column this year.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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