Obama rallies his youth brigade in Philadelphia

He's also in search of something he has lost: the adoration of the American people.
By Nia-Malika Henderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 30, 2010; 1:09 PM

PHILADELPHIA - With the debates over, ads flooding the airwaves and an election that's shaping up as a $4 billion contest finally coming to a close, Democrats are looking to something very basic for an edge: phone calls and door knocks.

So President Obama took his get out the vote message to Temple University as he made a closing argument for his party's agenda.

His speech was short and his message simple.

"I want everybody to get out there, knock on doors, make phone calls, volunteer, talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors, go into the beauty shops, the barbershops your church," he said. "If you do that, I am confident, we aren't just going to win this election, but we are going to keep on moving this country forward."

The crowd of 1,000 - mostly young people chanting campaign slogans and wearing Obama T-shirts circa 2008 - are exactly the type of voters that Democrats will need to stave off a midterm rout. This weekend, Obama's schedule has stops in four urban areas.

Obama has visited this city, which is key to Democrats' chances of victory in statewide races, four times over the past six weeks, and first lady Michelle Obama will hold a rally here Monday.

And the Democratic National Committee has poured more than $50 million into the get-out-the-vote effort in a bid to get at least a share of the 15 million young and first-time voters from 2008.

Over recent weeks, Obama has drawn an audience of about 185,000 people with 10 rallies in different states, and party leaders said they see some momentum.

"If you look at the polling in Pennsylvania and California, after the president's visits there, Democrats either closed the gap or in some instances widened their lead," said Mitch Stewart, executive director of Organizing for America, the DNC's grass-roots branch. "These events are a real shot in the arm for our organization specifically, but also to the candidates that are running there."

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter who said that 2010 is about 2012, said that "we are going to drive turn out aggressively in this city."

"Every elected official is focused on this election," he said. "They are mobilizing all over Philly and the suburbs."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett in remarks Thursday suggested that his aim is to keep turnout in Philadelphia down, comments that Nutter said have galvanized the base.

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