By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 14, 2010; 6:02 AM
President Obama is stepping up his effort to convince the young and minority voters who supported him in 2008 to return to the polls this fall, with a new ad airing Thursday on the MSNBC and BET cable networks that urges such voters to "make history again."
The 30-second spot is rare for this election cycle in that it extensively features Obama, using footage of his recent speeches at rallies in Philadelphia and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Democratic officials said it was designed to evoke the excitement of those events, and is part of a broad, concerted campaign to leverage the special relationship these first-time voters have with Obama and get them to vote again.
"Two years ago, you defied the conventional wisdom in Washington," Obama says in the ad. "You proved that the power of everyday people was stronger than the forces of the status quo."
"On November 2nd, we face another test. If the other side does win, they will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led to this recession in the first place. We cannot sit this one out."
The ad closes with text in large type that reads: "On Nov. 2, Make History Again." Then the word "VOTE" flashes across the screen.
The spot, paid for by the Democratic National Committee, will air for one day. It coincides with Obama's nationally televised youth town hall hosted by MTV and BET at 4 p.m. Thursday. The DNC also is sponsoring animated banner ads on the Web sites of MTV, BET and Comedy Central.
Meanwhile, Obama's grass-roots volunteer network, Organizing for America (OFA), is ramping up its get-out-the-vote ground operation this week. This summer, OFA canvassers collected "commit to vote" pledge cards from targeted voters across the country. This week the group is mailing those signed cards back to voters, with a letter from Obama urging people to vote.
OFA has created new online tools, including a canvassing app for Android-powered phones to be released on Thursday. The app, similar to an app launched last month for iPhones and iPads, helps volunteers reach targeted voters in their communities.
"We know we're up against historic headwinds. We aren't taking anything for granted, and we're working hard to fire up our base and turn out the vote for November 2 so we can keep this country moving in the right direction," said Lynda Tran, OFA's national press secretary.
Getting the roughly 15 million people who voted for the first time in 2008 - many of them young or minority voters - to vote again this fall is the keystone of the DNC's $50 million midterm election strategy.
Much of Obama's campaign activity has been designed to connect with these so-called surge voters. The president has staged a series of large rallies across the country, including one Sunday at the Ohio State University in Columbus and continuing Oct. 22 with events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.