'I'm in because he brought the troops home,' read one poster in the Obama campaign office in Manchester. By Gil Kaufman, with reporting by Sway Calloway
Obama supporters in New HampshirePhoto: Getty Images
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — "I'm in because we are the change we've been waiting for."
"I'm in because I want my grandchildren to know what polar bears are."
"I'm in because the power is in the voice of the youth."
Those are a few of the handwritten signs penned by volunteers for the Obama 2012 re-election as part of a "Why Are You In?" wall aimed at inspiring them to get out the vote during Tuesday's (January 10) primary. While most of the attention has been focused on the squabbling among the Republican White House hopefuls in the Granite State, as in last week's Iowa caucus, the Obama team here has been hard at work training volunteers, making calls and reaching out to the state's legendary independent voters and committed Democrats to remind them to come out on Tuesday.
It's part of an effort to keep the president's supporters fired up and ready to go for the general election in November, and 19-year-old volunteer Kathieya Odiah said the chance to see how a campaign works has been eye-opening. "The Obama campaign is basically about having volunteers and having a grassroots campaign, so when we have volunteers come in we always have them make posters and notes about why they come here for Obama," said Odiah, one of a number of Quinnipiac University students who will spend several weeks of their winter break working for Obama 2012.
She pointed to one of the signs she wrote, "I'm in because he brought troops home," explaining that she felt strongly about the president ending the war in Iraq.
The Manchester office, the largest of seven such locations around the state, has housed hundreds of volunteers over the past few months, and during a visit from MTV's Power of 12 team on Tuesday afternoon, young volunteers were sprawled on couches, on the floor and across several rooms as they clutched their call sheets and reached out to remind voters to make it to the polls before they closed at 8 p.m.
Her friend and fellow volunteer, Long Island, New York's Morgan Farra, 20, said she's in because the president has helped make college affordable for students like her by increasing the number of Pell grant recipients by 3 million so far. "It's really important to me because if you don't have an education, you're missing out on one of the greatest experiences of your life," she said.
Inspired by the unprecedented grassroots campaign run by Obama in 2008, 19-year-old Natalie Deduck said she has been putting in the 10 to 12-hour days at the Manchester office because she knows the importance of starting early and strong in order to rally the troops again. Jameson Cherilus, 22, is typical of the office's volunteers. He started his day around 8 a.m. outside an elementary school, where he held up signs for the president and reminded primary voters that Obama was on the ballot before hitting the office for a long day of phone calls.
"I'm here because President Obama supports small business," read another sign that shouted out Flanders Fish Market in East Lyme, Connecticut.
"It's been pretty hard getting my ... friends involved in the campaign [because] they honestly don't understand how important it is to start now even though it's only January," said Odiah about the challenges she's faced while making calls in Manchester and speaking to her peers about what she's doing. "We have to explain to people that we need to start now.
[Once] Republicans choose who they're going to have for their candidate, they're already going to have half of the votes. ... Yeah, [Obama's] going to win the primary, but this is a dry run. This is our way of knowing this is what it's going to look like in November. It's hard."
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