In Denver, GOP Woos Clinton Supporters

Although it's the Democratic National Convention in Denver this week, there are many, many Republicans in town.

The GOP has set up a war room about a mile from the Pepsi Center called the "DNC Rapid Response Headquarters," where the Republicans create messages about how Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is not ready to be president.

But this is not your typical "war room." Instead of a suburban office park, it is in a converted warehouse that could be mistaken for a high-tech startup. Most of the people running around are under 30 years old. There is also the Web site called NotReady08.com, with Twitter feeds, blog posts and the Republican Party's snarky slogan for the Democratic convention: "A mile high and an inch deep."

But the basic messages are still the same. All week they have been delivered by some of the GOP's heaviest hitters, including former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

"Senator Obama — I think, the case can be made very strongly from the words of Democrats — is just not ready to lead. Hillary Clinton said that during the campaign, directly," Giuliani said from the war room on Wednesday.

Sowing seeds of discontent among Clinton's supporters has been a primary goal of the Republican's DNC campaign. Florida Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart furthered this goal when he commented on Obama's choice for vice president.

"To see then, someone with 50 percent of the vote in the Democratic primaries not chosen and apparently not even vetted by Mr. Obama, to me was more than surprising. It was shocking. Our party is united. I'm not sure the Democrats are united," Diaz-Balart said.

The GOP campaign also has included TV ads, featuring some of Clinton's criticism of Obama during the primary — although very few of those ads actually run as commercials on TV. Instead, the campaign relies on reporters to air them over and over, and they do, in part, because the Republicans use high-profile people reporters can't ignore, such as Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The party also strategically puts out ads and press releases a few hours before the Democratic convention gets under way, when reporters are hungry for new news.

More Success With Media Than With Delegates

While Republicans have had success sucking reporters in, the same cannot be said for Democratic delegates.

On the floor of the Democratic convention before Clinton's speech on Tuesday night, there was not a delegate to be found who said the GOP campaign has changed their mind. Some delegates such as Patty McGuire of Oregon predict the negative campaigning will backfire on the Republicans.

"You know, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney were taking shots at John McCain," she said. "And I certainly wouldn't recommend that the Obama campaign spend any money putting Mitt Romney's comments about John McCain on the air, because I just don't think it works."

While delegates waited for Clinton to speak, Anne Price-Mills from Washington state could barely contain her excitement. Price-Mills said Obama is going to have to work pretty hard for her to get anywhere near that excited about him. Still, she says that she is slightly skeptical of the Republican's opposition campaign.

"Is it effective to draw me over to the McCain camp?" she said. "No, I will not be voting for McCain. But I will just say this, the question of [Obama's] experience is a legitimate question."

While such skepticism still won't sway Price-Mills, it might change the minds of a few swing voters. So it's likely that the ultimate focus of the Republican war room in Denver is to counter what, essentially, is a weeklong commercial for Democrats.

If the Republicans are able to prompt a discussion about a GOP talking point on a cable channel that preempts a speaker at the Democratic convention, that could be considered a success.

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