Political Season Winding Down

Altoona Mirror

When elections draw near, campaign leaders never seem to run out of encouraging words.

It’s one reason why three Mitt Romney campaign leaders — former congressman and Ex-Democrat Artur Davis, Republican political analyst Bay Buchanan and former Maryland Gov. Bob Erlich — were at the Blair County Republican headquarters on Sunday night.

“In the last two weeks, we’ve seen tremendous movement in Pennsylvania,” Buchanan said. “This is a state that’s ready for us.”

That’s not what President Barack Obama supporters said Saturday at the nearby AFSCME District Council 83 headquarters where state and local union leaders dispatched about 135 members as part of an organized effort to remind people what’s at risk.

“It’s about putting people in office who are going to work for us,” AFL-CIO Rick Bloomingdale said Saturday. “It’s our future at stake.”

On the last weekend before Tuesday’s elections, candidates and their supporters continued to seek voters’ attention through advertisements, rallies, telephone calls and computer message systems.

The Romney campaign leaders thanked local Republicans for their campaign efforts and encouraged them to continue through Tuesday. Polls showing Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes up for grabs with voters divided equally at 47 percent.

“The pressure is on you guys,” Erlich said.

Davis, who seconded Obama’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, has since switched parties and become an Obama critic.

“When you’re elected president, you don’t become the biggest celebrity, but the biggest servant in the country,” Davis said.

When it comes to winning elections, union labor leaders said it’s the ground game that can make the difference. That’s why it’s important to be out knocking on doors and reminding people to vote, AFSCME District Council 83 Director Mickey Sgro said Saturday.

To encourage their members, the AFL-CIO leaders parked the organization’s RV, or Rally Vehicle, outside the AFSCME headquarters along Patchway Road. There, the vehicle decorated in campaign stickers for Democratic candidates, provided music to energize those who were ready to wear down the soles of their shoes.

“We were out last weekend too, for about 2 to three hours,” said campaign worker Gary Orner of Altoona who campaigned in the Washington-Jefferson section of Altoona with help of fellow union officers Sue Bettwy and Joe Eckels. “We probably knocked on 300 doors.”

But the RV wasn’t the only campaign vehicle in the area over the weekend.

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama brought one of its two “Rebuild America” buses to Altoona on Friday night and stopped at the Bavarian to entice support for conservative candidates. In the last 30 days, the organization has used its pair of buses to cover miles in what it believes will be five states, including Pennsylvania, that will be key in deciding who the nation’s president will be.

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