Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, campaigning door-to-door in Des Moines today, said his Iowa campaign is “exceeding expectations.”
Although the Illinois senator hasn’t gained significantly in the polls since he announced his presidential candidacy early this year, Obama said his campaign has “the best organization on the ground” of other presidential contenders.
“We’ve really exceeded expectations so far,” Obama said. “We always knew that I’ve got to introduce myself to voters in a way that some of the other candidates don’t have to do.”
Obama remains in third place with 22 percent of the support of likely Iowa caucusgoers, according to the latest poll released this month by The Des Moines Register. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton was first with 29 percent and former North Carolina senator John Edwards had 23 percent.
One major part of winning the election is strong grassroots support, Obama said to a group of about 200 supporters at East High School before the door-to-door event began. He noted that he was well behind in the polls in his race in the U.S. Senate in 2004 until about the last month and credited his win largely to efforts such as the door-to-door events.
“If you don’t have that spark from the grassroots, then change doesn’t happen,” Obama said.
Obama and roughly 100 supporters canvassed Des Moines this morning. They spoke with residents about the gamut of issues but focused most upon the war in Iraq. Obama noted this week is the fifth anniversary of Congress' 2002 resolution authorizing military action in Iraq.
The event was part of a nationwide canvassing effort. Supporters went door-to-door in about 50 communities in Iowa, handing out postcards for people to mail that urge U.S. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa to vote with Democrats in attempts to end the war.
Obama, for about an hour, campaigned in the 1400 and 1500 block of Hutton Street on Des Moines’ east side. He was accompanied by a busload of reporters and photographers, who marched down the street near him.
Dozens of residents looked out their windows or stepped out into the street, inquiring about the commotion. One woman told reporters about 11 a.m. that she was just about to leave her home to go get a beer when she saw the senator make his way into her neighborhood.
Mostly, however, people were thrilled that Obama would campaign in their area, a working class neighborhood made up of a rich mix of racial, social and economic diversity. The campaign had not informed any of the residents of its intention to campaign along their streets.
“I’m 45 and I’ve never had anybody knock on my door and talk with me,” said Jody DeGard, who spoke with Obama from her porch. The smell of bacon and eggs was at her back. DeGard spoke with Obama on a number of issues, including the war. She said Obama and Clinton were her top choices and that Obama’s visit likely won her vote.
“We saw everybody walking down the street with cameras and I said, ‘Mom, that’s Barack Obama walking down the street,' ” said DeGard’s daughter, Ashley Lambertz, 20.
Walt Williams said he was surprised, too.
“I couldn’t believe it. I thought somebody killed somebody,” Williams said of the crowds swarming his neighborhood.
Williams said he supports Obama but he has doubts that he will win.
“I’m going to vote for him. Most black people are going to vote for him but the problem is they think it’s a wasted vote,” Williams said.
Obama told reporters that his recent criticism of Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote to support the Iraq war have not swayed into personal attacks.
“We’re not undergoing some fundamental transformation in our approach,” Obama said. "We continue to offer a hopeful and optimistic message about where we want to take the country. Obviously, there are going to be differences among the candidates . . . and the voters are going to need to know where those differences are.”
Beth Levine, a spokeswoman for Grassley, criticized the postcard effort.
“Instead of wasting postcards in Iowa, his time might be better spent delivering them to neighboring states like Nebraska, South Dakota and Missouri, where Democratic senators have failed to endorse his cut-and-run agenda,” Levine said.
Something must have happened here because I don't what "postcards Ms. Levine is referring to.