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Obama vs. Romney is all about the ground game

Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking about electichoices Saturday Oct. 20 2012 during campaign stop Ketterlinus Gymnasium St. Augustine

Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking about election choices, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, during a campaign stop at the Ketterlinus Gymnasium in St. Augustine, Fla. (AP Photo/Kelly Jordan)

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Updated: November 23, 2012 6:09AM



Some people know where the action is (my husband not included).

At least for the next two weeks, the action is not in Chicago. Or anywhere in Illinois.

The winner of the Nov. 6 presidential election will be the candidate whose ground game reaches out to touch the most voters in the states on the electoral bubble, i.e., Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa and Florida.

Early voting is in full swing. There’s two scant weeks to the election. Advocates for President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney must convince, cajole, wheedle and drag voters to their side of the ballot.

Chicago’s high-flying mayor is where the action is. Over the weekend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was stumping for Obama in Tampa and South Florida. The former top adviser to two presidents brings a national profile to the trail.

He’s not the only Chicagoan going on the road to help seal Obama’s deal.

“I wanted to go someplace where I was needed and where there are real people and where I can make a difference,” said Fran Grossman, a Hyde Parker and community banker. She is pitching Obama in the Orlando area this week.

For Grossman, the enemy is not Mitt Romney. It’s “complacency.”

She worries that “people may not go to the polls because they’re not energized,” she told me last week before she flew south.

Florida is ground zero for careening polls that register thin, Romney-leaning margins in the swing states.

She plans to press suburban Orlando voters who “don’t realize or think about how important their single vote can be.”

Grossman, 72, wants to talk to “decent” people who will relate to her and her appeals.

“I’m not going as an important person. I am going as ‘me.’ As a mother. As a grandmother. I pay my taxes. I have had my Social Security card since I was 12,” she said.

For the Obama campaign, Grossman represents the president’s last, best hope. She is a cog in his vast, 21st century network of people-to-people, social media and grassroots organizing.

“If this comes down to a 3- or 4-point race, which it looks like it will, ground game will matter,” veteran Republican strategist Ed Rollins told the Daily Beast last week. “And the Obama campaign has invested millions in ground game, going back to a foundation they built in 2008.”

Obama’s Florida operation has 102 local headquarters. Romney has 48, the Beast reports.

I saw its footprints all over Miami Beach on a visit two weeks ago. An Obama operative working an outdoor mall there told me she registered 200 voters in one day.

As my husband and I relaxed at a sidewalk cafe, an elderly lady stopped at our table. She was pushing a friend in a wheelchair. “We have to support and vote for Obama. Tell everyone!” she proselytized.

Pure adrenaline.



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