D.C. politicians warned backers of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama in front of Democratic National Committee’s headquarters Saturday that they should not sit on their laurels in the waning days of the campaign.
Led by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., many local leaders voiced their support and confidence in Obama, but they also cautioned the supporters – who were about to embark on a canvassing trip to Virginia – that there is still much work to be done.
“Keep running and running hard,” Norton said, adding, “Leave your overconfidence at home.”
Norton, whose nonvoting seat in Congress is up for re-election this fall, told Obama supporters to keep making phone calls and knocking on doors to encourage people to vote on Nov. 4.
“I’m a Democrat. I’ve seen it go down too many times,” Norton said, referring to losses in Florida and other swing states in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.
D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss echoed Norton’s ideas. He said in 2004, when he was in Florida campaigning for former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, “we didn’t do enough.”
“We’re not going to let that happen again,” Strauss said.
Many D.C. politicians, including Mayor Adrian Fenty, have come out in support of Obama. Polls last week show that Obama is leading Republican opponent Sen. John McCain by 69 percent in the District, according to Pollster.com.
Strauss said his support is due in part to Obama’s support for D.C. voting rights – a hotly contested issue in the District.
“First and foremost, if you’re in the District of Columbia you’ve got one issue and one issue only: How do you get the same rights as every other American?” Strauss said. “Sen. Obama is committed to D.C. statehood . that was enough to sell me.”
The speakers credited the volunteers at the rally with Obama’s success so far. They said the grassroots movements and the enormous number of volunteers have had a tremendous impact on national politics.
“There has never been anything like this on the ground,” Norton said.
She said it is important for organizations such as MoveOn.org and D.C. for Democracy to mobilize in the swing state of Virginia next week to secure a victory for the Democratic candidate.
“I believe the rally was electric and the D.C. delegation set the tone, rightfully giving Obama volunteers a sense of urgency,” said Michael Price, a campaign manager for D.C. Councilman Kwame Brown, D-At Large. “Democrats can’t afford to underestimate the Republican operation.”
Henry Smith, a volunteer for Obama, said he appreciates the message of the day, but he said the warning may be exaggerated.
“As you can see, we’re not really struggling,” he said gesturing around the crowded room. “I’m pretty confident.”