Locals stump for Obama in N.H.

MIDDLEBURY — A group of Addison County Democrats is logging some substantial travel miles to make New Hampshire a little bluer in advance of the Nov. 6 general election, hoping to deliver what some see as a toss-up state into the column of President Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Polls released by Public Policy Polling on Oct. 28 showed that Obama would claim 48 percent of New Hampshire votes to 46 percent for Romney, with 5 percent of voters undecided. The race is similarly close in such swing states as Ohio, Colorado and Florida. Since the president enjoys a double-digit lead here in Vermont, Obama supporters have decided that their campaigning efforts would be more productive across the border in the more evenly divided Granite State.
“Swing states are what we are focusing on right now,” said Monkton resident Kristin Blanchette, an organizer of a series of upcoming volunteer campaign trips to New Hampshire along with some locally based phone banks.
“People are solidly wanting to help the president get re-elected,” she said.
At the same time, GOP supporters of Romney have also been volunteering their services to campaign organizers in New Hampshire, according to Bryan Young, chairman of the Addison County Republican Committee.
“There is quite a bit of that going on,” Young said of individual Addison County Republicans reaching out to their Granite State colleagues. He believes several locals have volunteered to make phone calls for the Romney campaign, while others have made the trek across the border, albeit not in an organized carpool fashion.
Messages left at the Vermont Republican Committee headquarters in Montpelier were not returned as of press time on Wednesday afternoon.
Blanchette said a smattering of Obama supporters carpooled to New Hampshire on what amounted to nine-hour shifts (which included a total of four hours of travel) this past weekend to do some door-to-door campaigning for Obama. But she said momentum is growing, to the extent she expects “multiple groups” to be heading down this Saturday, Nov. 3, through Election Day.
Organizers have scheduled two shifts each day, departing from, and returning to, the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op. The first shift reports to the Co-op at 7 a.m., with a 4 p.m. return; second shift reports at 11 a.m. with an 8 p.m. return. The specific New Hampshire destination is reported to participants a few days before departure.
Other activists in communities like Burlington, Bennington and Rutland have, or will be, sending their own groups, according to Blanchette.
Middlebury resident Emily Joselson went down with a friend to Lebanon, N.H., on Oct. 21.
“The Obama team in Lebanon was very well organized and sent me and my partner to a neighborhood of primarily Obama supporters or Obama leaners or undecideds,” Joselson said.
While there, the duo canvassed around 50 homes and met a friendly audience.
“People were incredibly kind and receptive,” Joselson said. “It was a wonderfully positive experience.”
Joselson made similar canvassing treks several times for Obama during the 2008 election. She will soon receive training to serve as a poll-watcher to monitor the election process in New Hampshire. Lawyers like Joselson and law students are currently in demand to take the requisite two hours of training to troubleshoot issues that might come up at polling places, such as questions about identification requirements for voters and what to do when/if tabulating machines malfunction.
Joselson voted early in Vermont so that she will be able to help monitor the New Hampshire elections. She will be told of her specific assignment after she gets her training and said New Hampshire is where she will needs to be on Nov. 6.
“I am concerned that so few votes in New Hampshire could possibly affect the national results,” Joselson said. “I am glad there is an opportunity to be active in a state so close by, rather than needing to fly to Ohio to feel you can help.”
Blanchette can be reached at 902-453-7087. The Vermont Republican Party Offices can be reached at 803-223-3411.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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