Super effort lodged by GOP on ‘Super Saturday’

GOP knocks on doors, makes phone calls, recruits supporters
The Colorado Statesman

At Mitt Romney’s state campaign headquarters in Lakewood, phone calls to voters are treated as a kind of currency with its own economy.

Complete 65 calls, and a volunteer qualifies for a bumper sticker. Two hundred and fifty calls convert to a yard sign. And for supporters who rack up a staggering 10,000 calls — by no means unattainable, as a handful of youngsters are already more than half way to that goal — there’s a meeting with the presidential candidate in their future.

While it’s usually humming at Romney’s Lakewood office — volunteers swarm the location 12 hours a day, six days a week, campaign officials say — this past Saturday, the phone call economy was positively booming.

Gale Coors, whose husband, Joe, is a candidate for Congress, poses for a snapshot with former state Rep. Jeannie Reeser, who heads the Adams County Trumpeteers, a group of women who support the party, at the Adams County GOP’s Victory office in Thornton on Aug. 4, dubbed Super Saturday.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

The Romney campaign staged its second monthly “Super Saturday” last weekend at county headquarters and at the 10 “Victory” offices around the state, where Republican candidates from county commissioner to Congress collaborate on voter contact.

Volunteers examine color-coded precinct maps depicting voter performance in the 6th Congressional District on Aug. 4 at the Greenwood Village offices of the Arapahoe County Republican Party. U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign shares space in the headquarters.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

It’s a new attempt this year to meet state Democrats and Barack Obama’s presidential campaign on a playing field the opposition has nearly monopolized in recent elections, and Republicans say they’re catching up fast.

“Super Saturday is a day that builds not only excitement but energy — it gets people out in the streets knocking on doors, making phone calls,” said U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, who spent hours on Saturday driving between fully four GOP offices across his sprawling district, logging call-time in Logan County, Greeley, Fort Collins and Castle Rock.

Republicans make phone calls to swing voters at the Arapahoe County Victory office in Greenwood Village on Super Saturday, a coordinated monthly voter-contact effort held across the state on Aug. 4.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Gardner said the notion of a concentrated, campaign-wide event — echoed nationwide by the Romney campaign, which said the organizing event drew thousands of volunteers at hundreds of locations — creates its own momentum.

A Republican volunteer gets some coaching on making phone calls to unaffiliated voters on Aug. 4 at the state headquarters of the Romney campaign in Lakewood, part of a coordinated Super Saturday event held at GOP offices around the state.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“It brings people together for the first time who might not have seen the excitement because they hadn’t been together,” he said. “You could definitely see it, you could feel it, it was in people’s voices.”

Callers read a couple questions from a brief script they promised targeted unaffiliated voters would only take 15 seconds to complete, asking whether they approved of President Obama and whether they planned to vote for Democrats or Republicans this year. If a voter answered Republican, callers slapped a silver bell — the kind that sits at a hotel’s front desk — and at Victory offices across the metro area, the ringing was nearly constant.

Congressional candidate Joe Coors and legislative candidate Beth Humenik visit at the Adams County GOP’s Victory office in Thornton on Aug. 4.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

State GOP Chairman Ryan Call spent a few hours on the phone and said he got to ring the bell quite a bit.

“I was calling undecided, unaffiliated, swing voters,” he said with a grin. “I had more than one of them tell me, ‘Look, I voted Barack Obama last time, but it’s been a huge disappointment, and I’m voting a straight Republican ticket this year.’ I heard that quite a number of times.”

While he said that organizers were still compiling results from the busy day calling, he said he was tremendously encouraged by the responses he saw.

“We are going to win this election because our volunteers are connecting with their friends and neighbors,” Call said, noting that the event included armies of canvassers knocking on doors and passing out brochures, in addition to the phone calls. “That personal connection, volunteer-to-voter, is what wins elections in our state, and we’re going to have a world-class ground-game operation. Super Saturday this past week is strong evidence that this is coming together.”

The day-long event — “organizing a bit of a test run for the upcoming campaign,” he said — was more than just a show of strength, it demonstrates a fresh approach to voter contact.

“This operation is very different than years past,” said Call, who spent a good part of the day at the Arapahoe County Republican Party’s office, which it shares with U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign. “It is much more integrated with the local county party organizations, and in working in collaboration and cooperation with our legislative candidates. It is very much a Republican team approach. Rather than having competing field organizations or competing offices — it’s not a Romney office or a Coffman office — it’s a Republican office, we’re benefiting all of our candidates, and we’re seeing the benefits from that efficient and effective campaign organization.”

Congressional candidate Joe Coors — a rookie challenging three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter — started the day greeting hungry voters at an Arvada eatery, then dropped in at the Adams County GOP’s Victory office in Thornton before knocking on doors in a nearby neighborhood, embodying the multi-pronged approach Republicans were taking throughout the state.

Diners at The Egg and I restaurant told Coors they supported his candidacy and were looking for a change, Coors concluded after visiting at a couple dozen tables.

Voters, he said, were concerned “about the fear, uncertainty and doubt brought about by regulation affecting small business, the federally mandated health care issue coming down, and about debt — the whole banking thing, where can I get money to grow and expand my business.”

Following a quick drive to the eastern part of the 6th Congressional District, the candidate rallied a group of already-enthusiastic volunteers at the Thornton office. Once there, Coors invoked a phrase uttered by Obama in a recent speech that the Romney campaign and its supporting Super PACs have run on a near-continuous loop on the airwaves.

“I want to ask that guy if I ever run into him, who made the air you breathe?” Coors deadpanned.

“The Lord,” quipped one volunteer as the crowd dissolved in laughter.

Across town at the Lakewood office a couple hours later, Denver Republican Nate Williams paused between phone calls to declare the morning’s calls a success.

While noting that about two-thirds of the calls were going to voice mail, he said that once he reached live voters who were willing to answer his questions, they were breaking about two-to-one for Romney.

“You can usually tell right away people who are either tired of political calls or are Democrats who don’t want to go further with the questions,” he smiled. “But of the people that actually get through the questions, they are about two-thirds Republican or Romney, and about one-third Democrat.”

Gardner said his phone calls were equally encouraging.

“The people I spoke with were very excited about a new direction for the country,” he said. “These are people who are not right- or left-wing, but they’re people who desperately want something for their country that they’re not getting from this current administration.”

Voters, he said, are ready for a change.

“When I asked who did they think can best fix this country,” Gardner said, “the response so often was, ‘Look, we’ve just got to fix it, and I’m willing to give Mitt Romney this chance, because we’ve just got to fix it.’”