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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Facing headwinds in Fla, Obama campaign ramping up for Nov as Republicans focus on primary



While most of the political world was still buzzing about Mitt Romney's overwhelming Florida primary win, Ashley Walker rose from her seat to address a room full of Florida field directors for the Barack Obama campaign gathered at the University of Tampa.

"We need to strive for excellence every day. Each day when we get up we need to think about what we can do to earn Florida's 29 electoral votes for President Obama,'' Walker, the Florida director of Organizing for America, told the assembled operatives last week.

For Romney allies, who boasted of five full-time staffers — a fraction of what Obama already has in Florida — and a Florida ground organization that mainly consisted of mailing fliers to absentee votes, the scene in Tampa should be intimidating. Four years ago, Obama won Florida with the largest voter mobilization effort ever seen in Florida. This year's effort could dwarf that.

"There's never been an operation this size in Florida 10 months out from an election, not for a presidential (campaign), not for a gubernatorial. But we're going to grow," Walker told her Florida lieutenants. "Very soon, we're going to be in a position where the only place we can do trainings is in a hotel ballroom."

Obama, though, may need every last campaign operative in Florida to carry the state again. Nine months before Election Day, a host of signs point to an uphill battle for the president in America's biggest battleground state:

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[Last modified: Saturday, February 4, 2012 3:09pm]


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