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Team Obama Holding 2,000 Events This Weekend to Push for Campaign Volunteers

Team Obama Holding 2,000 Events This Weekend to Push for Campaign Volunteers

"We are going to build the biggest grass-roots effort in American political history."

PHILADELPHIA (The Blaze/AP) -- One year out from the 2012 election, President Barack Obama's re-elect team is making a major push for volunteers -- including a whopping 2,000 recruiting events this weekend alone.

It's all part of an effort to rebuild the massive net of supporters that helped propel Obama in 2008. The president's approval ratings have dropped precipitously and show no signs of rebounding amid a struggling economy.

This weekend's events will include neighborhood gatherings, one-on-one meetings in coffeehouses, phone banks, voter registration drives, door-to-door voter canvassing and house parties throughout the country. Supporters anywhere in the country can find the gatherings closest to them simply by entering their zip code on Obama's website.

In the Virginia and Maryland suburbs just outside Washington, D.C., several of the events listed are get-out-the-vote efforts for local candidates, all designed to bring Obama supporters together.

The goal is to mobilize the same flood of activists who were at the center of Obama's coalition in 2008 -- black and Latino voters, women and college students and voters entering the workforce -- having them in place long before ballots are cast a year from now.

It's important for the re-election campaign because now that the "Washington outsider" luster has worn off, some of Obama's supporters have been left disillusioned by his first three years in office.

"Block by block, person by person, student by student, we are going to build the biggest grass-roots effort in American political history," campaign manager Jim Messina vowed at an event Wednesday at the University of Pennsylvania to kick off a mobilizing effort on college campuses.

Messina told about 250 college and high school students and others watching online that there were 8 million registered voters between the ages of 18 and 21 who weren't old enough to vote in 2008 but would be harnessed to support the president.

Still, young voters, many of whom were galvanized in 2008 by the promise of ending the Iraq war, are not an easy sell this time.

Obama won voters between the ages of 18-29 by a margin of about 2-to-1, but polling has shown some signs of softening support as many recent college graduates face high levels of unemployment.

The students heard from Messina, White House policy adviser Melody Barnes and others who trumpeted the administration's support for college aid and efforts to maintain health care coverage for young people.

Kyle Musto, a 17-year-old high school senior from West Philadelphia, said he was undecided as he considers his first vote in a presidential election.

"I have friends who are very opposed to Obama. I have friends who are very pro-Obama. I'm very open to anything," he said.

Meetings like the one in Philadelphia are more common because Obama has avoided a Democratic challenger and his team can't point to contested primaries and caucuses as reasons for people to get involved now. So they are finding motivation elsewhere.

As Obama has tried to win passage of his jobs agenda in Congress, party loyalists regularly receive emailed updates from campaign officials urging them to pressure Republican lawmakers by phone, email or Twitter. At the Philadelphia event, students were encouraged to text their ZIP code and the phrase "Greater Together," the name of the young voter program, to the campaign so they could receive more information. Students were also asked to urge their Facebook friends to support the campaign.

The campaign is planning to use January's Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary as an organizing tool, too.

Obama's campaign has opened eight offices across Iowa and told reporters this week it had held more than 700 training sessions and made more than 100,000 phone calls to Iowans since the campaign opened in April. In New Hampshire, the campaign is opening its second office this weekend and has logged more than 90,000 phone calls and 2,200 one-on-one meetings across the state, all aimed at boosting turnout and support in 2012.

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