14 January 2008

Obama Camp Girds for Battle in Clinton Country

It was a good weekend for the Obama campaign in the heart of Hillary Clinton’s turf.

The New York Times ran a story Saturday about the strides the Illinois senator’s presidential campaign is making in New York.

On Sunday, the Daily News followed up with a poll showing Barack Obama has cut Clinton’s lead in New York by 11 points in the past month and overtaken her among African American voters in the state, posting a 42-point swing from a Sienna College poll taken a month ago.

And that all coincided with the ramp-up of the Obama campaign in the state, as campaign offices are opening around New York and volunteer lists are burgeoning.

“Sen. Obama is on the ballot in all 29 Congressional districts in the state, so the depth of excitement, enthusiasm and receptiveness is really strong everywhere in New York,” said Richard Fife, a spokesman for the Obama campaign from his office in lower Manhattan.

Fife says the campaign has opened about 10 offices in all parts of the state and 750 volunteers are already knocking on doors, ringing up phones and greeting commuters.

One of those volunteers is Rose Cohen, who is helping to drum up votes literally in Clinton’s back yard. The Chappaqua resident says she was hooked on Obama the first time she heard him speak.

"I saw him speak and I was very impressed by the way others responded to him," said the resident of Clinton's home town. "He resembled John F. Kennedy who I saw as a very little girl. I was just impressed with the way he could move people. I haven't seen that in a politician in a very long time."

Judy Aydelott of Katonah ran for Congress in New York’s 19th District two years ago and is a delegate for Obama on this year’s ballot in the district, which straddles five counties north and northwest of New York City.

Aydelott was attracted to Obama because, she says, he’s the one candidate who can bring the country together and move it forward.

“He can’t do it by himself but he has the ability to motivate people, bring them together and help him to bring about the change we need,” she said.

Of the large swing among black voters in recent weeks, State Sen. Bill Perkins of Harlem, a Democrat and Obama supporter, said voters are beginning to believe the senator can win.

“He’s obviously catching on especially after Iowa and the very close race in New Hampshire, which is an extraordinary accomplishment running against the so-called inevitable Democratic choice,” Perkins said.

But can Obama win in Clinton’s home state, where Clinton is popular among Democrats of all stripes?

Perkins thinks he can:

“He has broad support of both black and white, independents, young people. Hey,
Iowa is 97% white and that’s a lot whiter than New York.”

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