Republicans are taking a strong debate performance by Mitt Romney into the weekend, trying to contact 2 million voters in a get-out-the-vote effort they’re calling “Super Saturday.”
Among the highlights of the all-day effort was Romney’s wife, Ann, making a surprise visit to a call center in Orlando, Fla., where she posed for pictures, signed campaigned posters and made calls to prospective voters.
“We appreciate all the work you’re doing, all the help you’re giving us,” said Romney, who brought pizzas for the volunteers making calls. “Are you getting a lot of feedback about the debate on the calls?”
This is one of just several Romney/RNC Victory Super Saturdays this election cycle in which volunteers make calls and campaign on the streets. Republicans said they hope this weekend to make contact with at least 35 million potential voters.
Romney was introduced to a woman at the Orlando Victory Center named Sarah Franzee, whom campaign officials say has made 130,000 calls — believed to be the most of any Romney volunteer in the country.
“This is actually Ann Romney calling,” Romney said on one call. “We’re calling to make sure well, if we’re going to get you to vote and count on your support in November?”
The Republican presidential candidate held a rally in Apopka, about 15 miles north of Orlando Saturday night.
Ann took the podium first and said the debates gave voters a chance to see “the real Mitt Romney.”
Mitt then addressed the crowds and said he was glad the debates gave him a chance to ask the president about his policies directly. He also spoke about his tax plan and was met with large cheers as he vowed to “repeal ObamaCare and replace it with real health care reform.”
“I’m counting on Florida to win this for me on Nov. 6, so we can take back this country and get it strong again,” he told the crowd.
The campaign has already gotten a bump from Romney’s strong campaign debate performance Wednesday night, saying its voter rolls have increased by 63 percent and that it has received more than $12 million in online contributions over the past several days. And polls show the race tightening in battleground states.
Rasmussen Reports released post-debate polls showing dead heats in Ohio, Virginia and Florida, compared to last month when Obama was opening up a lead in those and other states.
“We’ve seen great enthusiasm since the debate with new volunteers joining our already top-notch ground game,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said Saturday. “With 30 days until election day, we are focused on perfecting our get out the vote operation to get as many people to the polls to elect Mitt Romney has possible. Thanks to over 80 thousand volunteers we’ve been able to contact over 35 million voters since spring.”
In addition to Florida, similar efforts, the party’s last Super Saturday in the election cycle, are taking place in Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia.
The Obama campaign also was hoping to cash in this weekend on recent successes — a record fundraising effort in September of $181 million and a Labor Department report Friday that showed the U.S. unemployment rate dipped last month to 7.8 percent.
Jim Messina, Obama for American campaign manager, said much of the money came from small donations and urged supports to continue to give small donations to defend against an expected “unprecedented negative ad blitz in battleground states across the country.”
He said more than 1.8 million Americans — 567,044 of whom were first-time donors — gave an average donation of $53, and 98 percent of the donations were $250 and less.
“Day in and day out, you’re out there getting the president’s back,” Messina said.
Both campaigns think that winning Florida — with its huge population and 28 electoral votes — is essential to taking the White House.
On Friday, Romney held a rally in St. Petersburg where he resumed his attack on Obama and his performance on the economy, following the unemployment report.