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McCain Hiring Paid Canvassers in Florida

By Alec MacGillis
Republicans worried about John McCain's prospects have wondered how his campaign has been spending its not-insignificant pile of money, given that McCain is being heavily outspent on the air in swing states and has invested far less in field offices and organizers than has Barack Obama. Well, here's one place at least some money is going: In Florida, McCain is now offering to pay people to do door-to-door canvassing for the campaign.

An e-mail went out over the weekend from the Republican Party in Hillsborough County, which encompasses the vote-rich Tampa area, inviting supporters to go door-to-door for the campaign for $12 per hour. "Work as many shifts per week as you want," it said. "No experience necessary, but a strong desire to make a difference and a strong work ethic are important. So is reliable transportation."

McCain's reliance on paid canvassers is another indication of the advantage Obama holds going into the final weeks of the campaign, thanks to his formidable ground organization. In Florida alone, the Obama campaign has 56 field offices, more than 100 field organizers and the free labor of 150,000 volunteers, who have been doing all of the campaign's canvassing in the state.

The Obama campaign is so confident of its Florida effort that it has moved its two top national field generals, Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes, to the Sunshine State, so they can be closer to the action there.

The Obama volunteers in the state range from those who have turned their life over to the campaign for the final push to those like Valerie Chambers, who are doing only what they can squeeze in. Chambers is busy during the week running a child care business from her Orlando home, but finds time every weekend to make several hours worth of calls using the campaign's "Neighbor to Neighbor" computer program, which gives volunteers lists of voters in their own town or city to call.

She will host a debate watching party at her home on Wednesday. "I went onto the Web site to see what was going on, and looked at what was best available for me," she said. "This is a movement -- it's like a movement of everyone just trying to get involved."

Brian Lothrop, who has been hired by the Republican Party to oversee the canvassing efforts in one quadrant of Hillsborough County, said the party was seeking to hire about 30 canvassers for each of the county's four quadrants and that he'd already hired 15-20 after the e-mail went out to local Republican clubs and Young Republicans. He said it was not unusual for the party to hire canvassers in the final weeks of a campaign. The party has had volunteers doing "precinct walks" over the past few weeks to distribute campaign door hangers, he said, with nearly 20 turning out on Saturday to walk one precinct in his area.

But the campaign decided that it made more sense to pay canvassers for the task of making sure voters who want absentee ballots obtain them and send them in. That work entails four-hour shifts, instead of the two hour shifts that volunteers commit to, and closely following state rules on absentee ballots, he said. The party decided that was better entrusted to paid workers with that project.

"The compensation helps to make sure they're going to be there for a full four hour shift and able to handle the accountability measures we have, measuring the effectiveness of our effort," Lothrop said. "Those are the reasons we know that we're going to have to shift to a paid effort."

The situation in Florida is something of the reverse of what occurred in 2004, when Democrats nationally relied heavily on paid canvassers hired by America Coming Together and Republicans relied heavily on the volunteer network assembled under Karl Rove's guidance. ACT was credited with helping win several key states for Kerry. But those involved in the effort knew it wasn't the same as having volunteers motivated simply by political enthusiasm. While the group tried to match canvassers to neighborhoods, they often did not make the pitch well because they were not from the areas.

Robert Kraig, who was part of ACT as the then-Wisconsin political director for the Service Employees International Union, recalled watching a racially diverse group of paid canvassers in a white-ethnic suburb of Milwaukee and feeling that "they just weren't clicking." "They appeared like outsiders. Even though some of them were skilled, and some conversations went fine, I felt that it wasn't what it could be," he said.

Returning, the canvassers passed a storefront with a Bush office. Inside, Kraig said, were 30 "obviously local" volunteers making phone calls. "They were from that community, they weren't paid, and it occurred to me that those were probably a lot more effective conversations," he said. "It made my heart sink."

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 13, 2008; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Battlegrounds , John McCain  
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It would truly be a terrible moment in our nation's history if McCain and Palin were to be elected on their platform of hate and lies. There was a time I had some respect for McCain. But he has completely lost my respect. In fact I must have been mistaken all along to think that he had any honor. If he becomes president I will still have no respect for him. But even worse if he becomes president it will show the world that the days of an inspiring America are over. If he becomes president the world will see that America is ruled by hate, fear and bigotry and that every other country had better be afraid because a hate filled, angry old man and his ill-informed religious fundamentalist vp will be in charge and they are erratic and filled with negativity. In fact negativity is their platform.

Posted by: MickyD1 | October 16, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

John MCCain thought his pow status would get him elected,so when that didn't work he went to inciting hate and kkk like rallies, now that doesn't work he is now trying to buy the votes, by paying to canvass. We know what that means, but it won't work either.That is what you get when you surrond your self with marons.Keep watching how the Grand Old Panic republicans try to come up with something that is low down and dirty.

Posted by: pokeymompokey | October 14, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse


What do you know about Trinity United other than spoonfed talking points?

You're an obvious liar who knows nothing about this so-called "black supremcy" theology.

Go ahead and play the race card. At this point, it only appeals to people who are inclined to think like you.

The rest of us will continue to have a mature discussion.

Posted by: leeburl | October 14, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse


We've had the Internet for about fifteen years. Haven't you learned yet that anything in all-caps is instantly discounted as fringe lunacy? Even if you were speaking truth, your formatting choices belie your erratic mindset.

Posted by: Lavender42 | October 14, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse


Put down the torch and pitchfork.

Go to and read the truth about Ayers. He and Obama were on a couple of boards together involving education reform (Anneberg Challenge) and the anti-poverty (Woods Fund) and Ayers once hosted a coffee gathering during Obama's first run as State Senator. More to the point. Despite his past Ayers is an accomplished member of the community.

He holds the title of Distinguished Professor at the university of Chicage, hardly a bastion of liberal politics. Here's how Wikipedia lists his resume:

"Co-director of the Small Schools Workshop; co-director of the Chicago Forum for School Change—an affiliate of the Coalition of Essential Schools;[20] chairman of the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools (ABCs) coalition;[21][22] former Chicago assistant deputy mayor for education (1989–1990)"

Despite his past, Ayers has done far more to improve his community than most of the critics who post here.

To extrapolate their so-called "association" into something insidious is just more grasping at straws in hope that something will stick.

Posted by: leeburl | October 14, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Ever wonder what would happen if MTV hosted a presidential debate, well now you get to find out.

Posted by: pastor123 | October 14, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

OBAMA’S POLITICAL CAREER STARTED WITH HIS AFFILIATION WITH WILLIAM AYERS AND BERNARDINE DOHRN, THE UNREPENTANT TERRORISTS ... part of “The Weathermen” terrorist group which launched a campaign to bomb" the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. In the 90’s, both “Community Organizers” Ayers and Obama worked together for years, radicalizing the Chicago school system.

At a 1969 "War Council" in Flint, Michigan, Weatherman leaders Ayer and Bernardine Dohrn proclaimed that the time had come to launch a war against "Amerikkka". The Weather Underground went on to claim credit for some 25 bombings over the next several years, detonating explosives at the rebuilt Haymarket statue, a bathroom at the Pentagon, the Capitol barber shop, the New York City police headquarters, and a variety of other targets.

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA’S CLOSE ASSOCIATION WITH RADICAL EXTREMISTS PUTS AMERICA IN DANGER of being taken over by a group of radical terrorists that would “change” America as Obama has promised;…but the change would be to fulfill the dreams of the Weathermen of overthrowing capitalism and launching a race war against the “white” United States.

AMERICANS OF ALL PARTIES MUST COME TOGETHER AND DEFEND OUR COUNTRY against dangerous terrorists and vote for a True American Patriot, John McCain!


Posted by: Manolete | October 13, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Florida Latinos voting for Obama. Obama followed Wright and his Black Liberation Theology (Black Supremacy) for 20 years. Why would Latinos vote for Obama?

Posted by: Texan2007 | October 13, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

The Florida Latino vote has turned away from McCain due to his attack ads. They remember to illegal immigration attacks that have caused attacks against them. Palin is so weak a candidate that she won't be attacked at all by Obama. The high road not attacking after the abuse of power finding is a lesson in civility for her and a bonus with the undecided. In regard to MSM bias, the worst is the neocon network FoxNews, followed by Obama's MSNBC, then Hillary's CNN. Real news is C-Span and public TV. Broadcast TV has Face The Nation, Meet The Press and 20/20. Obama is an expert in campaigning, with a ground game nationally that dwarfs Republican efforts. He beat Hillary with his ground game besting hers. He made the mistake in NH of not using his resources and ground game. He does not seem to make the same mistake twice and has hit the magic 50 in the polls. When a candidate hits over 50 in a state it is usually won.

Posted by: jameschirico | October 13, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

That sure is money well spent. Yawn!
My Friends I'm losing the Election!
I can tell you that here in Arizona, Supposed McCain Stronghold. Not one McCain/Palin sign in front of a home, No bumper stickers, and I have yet to here of one person say they will vote for those two idiots...

Posted by: PapasaninArizona | October 13, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

flavio: Well they are kinda slow.


Posted by: toritto | October 13, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse


Dude, you don't have to go on with the big diatribe. Conservadrones have NO desire at looking for the truth.

The best we can do is pray that stem cell research will, one day, help them grow a brain.

Until then, let's just make fun of them! YEEEH HAAAA!

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 13, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

We have had 8 years of Republican rule, 6 of which the GOP controlled both houses of Congress.

We have been lied to and taken into an unnecessary war. When did the United States become a nation that attacks a 3rd world country "pre-emtively"?

We have tortured our prisoners and suspended the right of Habeas Corpus - first granted in the Magna Carta. When did it become OK for the good guys to torture prisoners? Are we nazis?

Our national debt has virtually tripled to over 10 TRILLION dollars (that's trillion with a "t"). We have a half trillion dollar budget deficit. The GOP was the party of smaller government and fiscal restraint. We have become the world's greatest debtor nation.

Forty million plus people have no health insurance but there was no initiatives from the Republicans to do anything about it - only railing against "socialized medicine" and medicare.

The investments of individuals in their retirment funds, college funds and mutual funds have collapsed over the last 12 months wiping out tens of trillions of dollars in wealth. If you had planned to retire in 5 years you can probably forget it. If your kid was starting college in 2 years you may have to plan on more student loans, if you can get one. Keep that old car too - no car loans available.

Housing prices have declined precipitously to the point where millions of families owe more on their homes than they are worth. The equity in their homes has evaporated into thin air.

Banks are unwilling to lend even to other banks putting businesses and jobs in danger of disappearing. Three of the five largest investment banks are gone along with Washington Mutual, Wachovia and others. AIG has had to borrow over $100 billion from the Fed.

Our friends abroad laugh at our President. His is a worldwide joke. Our armed forces are stretched to the limit and enemies thumb their noses at us. The Taliban is reorganized in Afghanistan and McSame keeps spouting "victory in Iraq". Even the Iraqis want us to go home.

Shall I go on?

I would vote for Charlie Brown before I would vote Republican.

Not this time; not this year.

(Go Florida!)

Posted by: toritto | October 13, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

How Sweet!!!

Obama's Organization has the free labor of 150,000 volunteers to campaign in Florida.

In contrast, McCain's disorganization seeks to hire about 30 canvassers for each of the county's four quadrants at $12 an hour. At the time of this article, he had only hired about 15 to 20. Also mentioned was about 20 volunteers walking the precinct.

That just about tells it all, America. McCain's campaign is as erratic as he is.

Posted by: lyndel | October 13, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I hope McCain is checking to make sure that no one he hires is an illegal immigrant. Wouldn't that be a great headline:

McCain hires illegal immigrants to canvass. Claims they're doing jobs no American citizen wants.

It would be classic.

Posted by: thebobbob | October 13, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

There is no reason for the Obama campaign to do anything as the media will take care of it for them.

I.E. If John McCain passed gas in Tampa the headlines from the NYTimes and MSNBC would read "McCain responsible for toxic gas attack on Florida". The rest of the media would immediately pick up the story and amplify on same.

If Barack Obama passed gas the NYTimes and MSNBC would ignore it.

Posted by: mwhoke | October 13, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

See the best Sarah Palin impersonations, short clip. Very Funny.

See What they didnt show during the debate
What the media didnt cover, the debate outtakes. A tense moment between tom brokaw and John McCain.

Posted by: pastor123 | October 13, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

McCain attended ACORN rally!


Miami, Florida – February 20, 2006 ―
"Leaders from a diverse array of sectors will hold a rally in Miami on Thursday, February 23, 2006, in support of comprehensive immigration reform in an effort to keep immigration reform at the forefront of the public debate. Leaders from both political parties, immigrant communities, labor, business, and religious organizations will gather to call on Washington to enact workable reform."

"The rally will feature Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as the headline speaker along with elected officials, immigrants and key local and national leaders. Sen. McCain is one of the chief sponsors of the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act; bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation introduced last Congress and scheduled for consideration by the Senate in the coming weeks. A similar rally with Sen. McCain is planned for New York City on February 27 [...]"

"The rally in Miami is being sponsored by the New American Opportunity campaign (NAOC) in partnership with ACORN, Catholic Legal Services - Archdiocese of Miami, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami Dade College, People for the American Way/Mi Familia Vota en Acción, Service Employees International Union, and UNITE HERE."

That was a great event, and I'm glad McCain headlined it. But it does make it a bit more difficult for his campaign to press this line of attack, doesn't it? There's even a picture of Johnny McBush attending the rally, live and in person:

The McCain campaign is one of a kind. Every time it settles on a line of attack, it always undermines it days later. It's almost like McCain hired the Three Stooges to run his campaign strategy.

Posted by: DrainYou | October 13, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

This is where McCain's plan on Immigration Reform works

Posted by: amitchell13 | October 13, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

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