Campaigns Across The U.S.: GOP Tries To Turn Ill.

Polls in Illinois show Republican Rep. Mark Kirk is ahead of Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in a tight race for President Obama's former Senate seat. The GOP is focused on trying to turn the reliably blue state red Tuesday.

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(Soundbite of conversations)

DAVID SCHAPER: I'm David Schaper in Chicago, where on Halloween night, Illinois Republicans were focused on what, for them, would be a big treat - turning this reliably blue state and President Obama's home state, red on Tuesday. The trick will be turning out their voters for Republican congressman Mark Kirk, in the very tight race for Mr. Obama's former Senate seat.

(Soundbite of applause and cheering)

Senator SCOTT BROWN (Republican, Massachusetts): Wow, what a great crowd. What a great turnout.

SCHAPER: And helping fire up the Illinois GOP on behalf of Kirk was someone who knows about turning a blue state red, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.

Sen. BROWN: We need him to go to Washington and be that independent voice that Illinois absolutely needs. So I want to thank each and everyone of you for coming out. Don't take this for granted. Don't take this for granted, because it's him and you against the machine.

(Soundbite of cheering)

SCHAPER: The Illinois Democratic Party machine is famous for its get out the vote efforts, which included President Obama campaigning for Democratic Senate candidate, Alexi Giannoulias, at a huge outdoor rally in Chicago Saturday night.

While this Republican rally at a Chicago bar Sunday night drew just a few hundred people, the Illinois GOP is nonetheless putting up some very impressive Get Out the Vote numbers of its own.

(Soundbite of ringing phone)

SCHAPER: State party leaders say phone banks, like this one in Chicago's northern suburbs, have reached more than four million potential Illinois voters since April. That's more than any other state Republican organization in the country.

Mr. NARIN FARNSWORTH (Phone Bank Worker): Good morning, is Charles available?

SCHAPER: Retiree Narin Farnsworth, of Fort Sheridan, Illinois, says when he makes these calls in the moderate to liberal-leaning affluent suburbs that Republican Kirk represents in Congress, he's hearing more people talk about their economic worries.

Mr. FARNSWORTH: I think there is an apprehension that I haven't in previous years, haven't - rather than just party loyalty in previous years - this is where people are, hey, I'm scared.

SCHAPER: In these last days before the election, Illinois Republicans are focusing on Republican-leaning and undecided independents, as well as turning out their base in an final get out the vote push that is unprecedented in this state - a push they say will make all the difference on Tuesday.

David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.

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