Obama Campaign Gets Out The Vote

With 24 hours to go before Election Day, the campaigns will deploy thousands of people to go door-to-door, make last-minute phone calls, and arrange for rides to the polls Tuesday. Steve Hildebrand is deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama. He tells Renee Montagne that the race is tight in a lot of swing states.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

We turn now to Steve Hildebrand. He's deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama. And he's speaking to us from Miami where he's part of an organization that has deployed thousands of campaign workers and volunteers across the country. Good morning.

Mr. STEVE HILDEBRAND (Deputy Campaign Manager, Obama Campaign): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Let me just turn to something that you just heard Steve put to Jon Seaton. And that is, are you concerned that the people that you get to the polls will be able to vote and that their votes will be counted?

Mr. HILDEBRAND: I think we have a pretty high level of confidence that there's not going to be anything significant. What we saw through the early voting process in a lot of states around the country was just a slow process, a lot of enthusiasm, people wanting to get in there and vote. And we just saw very, very long lines.

MONTAGNE: So you're not so concerned. You're not so concerned about Ohio and some states that have had some problems, New Mexico.

Mr. HILDEBRAND: I think we have a lot of confidence that election officials have corrected those problems. And there are always errors that are caused by, you know, either machine malfunctions or human error, but I think in large part we're going to feel OK about it.

MONTAGNE: Let's go back to the beginning of this campaign momentarily. There was a lot of talk in the Barack Obama campaign of a 50-state campaign. And that didn't quite happen. But now at the very end, you have been, I gather, deciding that you do in fact need to hurry back some resources and staff to places like North Dakota, Georgia, to see if you can make them competitive. What exactly got you doing that?

Mr. HILDEBRAND: Well, we did run a 50-state strategy. Certainly there were states that got more resources than others, but we had staff and offices and significant volunteers in all of these states. You know, in Georgia, right around September 1, you know, we had a staff of 150. We took some of those staff, who did an incredible job with voter registration, and deployed them to other states who needed to beef up their voter registration efforts. But we've, you know, we have staff in North Dakota making that incredibly competitive. In Montana we have a substantial lead. In Arizona where we've had staff from the beginning, they've made that state competitive. And John McCain, you know, is scrambling to win his own state.

MONTAGNE: You know, we heard just a moment ago about Republican successes and strategy that they've used successfully, rather, in past elections. Have you learned anything from those Republican successes?

Mr. HILDEBRAND: Well, the whole Karl Rove 72-hour strategy is more of a PR campaign than it is a real effort. You know, we've clearly seen through this early voting period in all of these states that they have done very little to move their voters to the polls, whereas we've been very aggressive. So we've been doing not just a 72-hour program, but a several month program where we have been identifying and turning out our voters.

And we've seen record numbers in all of these states. And in Florida alone, easily 47 percent of the expected electorate on Election Day has already voted. That's a remarkable number. If you look at the Democrat versus Republican numbers, they're just extraordinary. Republicans are less enthusiastic to go vote this cycle.

MONTAGNE: Well, just finally, what worries you the most about this last 24 hours?

Mr. HILDEBRAND: Well, there's a lot of states that are very close. You know, we need to be highly aggressive and make sure our voters get out. And, you know, a lot of things can happen in 24 hours in a presidential campaign. And, you know, we need to make sure that our voters aren't complacent and they do get out to vote, and understand that this is close.

MONTAGNE: Thanks very much for joining us.

Mr. HILDEBRAND: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Steve Hildebrand is deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign speaking to us from Miami.

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