GOP delegates in swing states all fired up

Posted: August 31, 2012

TAMPA - Prepackaged television productions? High-pitched partisan lovefests? Perhaps.

But political conventions do more than fire up the faithful. As they awaited their nominee's words, Republicans from the handful of swing states that will determine this election were already planning to spread those flames back home.

"After you think you've done everything you can do, you come to something like this and you say, 'OK, I can do more,' " said Tammy Puff, an Ohio delegate in her seat five hours before Mitt Romney's Thursday night acceptance speech.

Inspired by Ann Romney's remarks the night before - "She's really amazing" - Puff will go home to hit the phone banks and walk door-to-door.

Meanwhile, Sol Grosskopf, 25, a Wisconsin delegate complete with a cheese-wedge hat, said he had learned a lot this week, from fund-raising possibilities to new approaches to political events.

One idea: a book club with Republicans, libertarians, and liberals, which "gives you an understanding of the other side," Grosskopf said, "to better tailor your arguments to what the other side brings up."

Bill Summers of Cleveland had already taken to his computer Thursday afternoon, e-mailing friends to pony up for Romney's campaign.

"I think that's what you do with these things, you inspire the troops," Summers said.

Frankie Middleton, from the town of Belleville in another key state, Michigan, also figures to hit the computer as soon as she gets home. She said she would write: "You have to help me! You have to help me!"

On top of that, Middleton will also make 350 to 400 phone calls a day, seven days a week, until Election Day. She will tell those callers: "You will be the one who makes him lose the election if you don't go out to vote."

Romney may be trailing in Pennsylvania by nine points, according to a recent Inquirer poll, but delegates there are confident that if they knock on enough doors and make enough phone calls, Romney can win over a state that hasn't gone Republican since 1988.

"Politics is the art of grass roots, knocking on doors and making phone calls," said Dan Daub, an alternate delegate and mayor of Tower City in Schuylkill County, as he, too, awaited Romney's words. The convention "gets you a whole lot more motivated. It gets you a whole lot more enthused. It gets you a whole lot more energized."

Daub was evidently enthused: He donned a cowboy hat made of Yuengling six-pack boxes.

But it's not just for this election, said Pattie Booker, a delegate and school board member in Radnor, Delaware County.

"These kinds of events are really important for people to get together and learn about issues that are important throughout the state," Booker said. "It helps you understand what the focus is, what the key points are that we want to talk about."

Specifically, she said, she has told others how she helped cut spending in her school district, leading to three years of surpluses. "We've had to take on those issues - we've got too many teachers, we've all overspent - what are the things that we can do to reset?"

Susanne Sellers, 71, of Denver, N.C., is operating her own get-out-the-vote effort. She already knows that nearly everyone in her 95-person neighborhood is for Romney. When she goes home, she will expand her efforts.

"I check 'em after they vote," said Sellers, whose gold-elephant pendant has a tiny pearl at the tip of the trunk. "And they know I check 'em."

One Republican from a swing state, though, doubted the effect of the convention on loyalists such as himself.

James Mills, 30, from Iowa, said that after he got home, "I can't say I'd be more or less energized."

Even so, he posted a note Thursday on Facebook to tell his friends to watch Romney's speech. His selling point? They might get to see him on TV.

Contact Matt Katz at 609-217-8355 or, or follow on Twitter @mattkatz00. Read his blog, "Christie Chronicles,"



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