Va. Campaigners Persevere Despite 2-Person Ballot

Play associated audio

Virginians will choose between just two candidates on the state's primary election ballot Tuesday: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

The rest of the Republican candidates failed to collect enough signatures last fall to get on the state's printed ballot. But that hasn't made Romney and Paul's campaigners complacent.

At the headquarters for each candidate in Northern Virginia, volunteers and staff are busy gearing up for Super Tuesday, when voters in 10 states will pick their party's nominee.

For the past two weeks, 55-year-old Rob Hartwell has spent every night and weekend using his own cellphone to call every Republican, moderate Democrat and undecided voter in Northern Virginia he can track down. The lifelong Virginian is one of several volunteers working to ensure local residents cast their ballots for Romney.

He says that even though there's enthusiasm for Romney, he still expects a low turnout at the polls Tuesday.

"When most of the candidates failed to get on the ballot, it absolutely diminished a lot of the view that there was a contest here," he says, "but if our people think that he's automatically going to win, they're not motivated to vote, they don't turn out, we don't remind them to vote, then Ron Paul can have a better showing than he expects."

Paul's people are busy trying to make that happen at their headquarters in Springfield, Va. His press secretary, Gary Howard, said he didn't have time to talk with NPR. In fact, the campaign would not allow the reporter inside the secure office suite for more than a few minutes.

Romney's Manassas, Va., operation is run out of a small construction company's office that rents space to the campaigners during off hours.

Valerie Green is another Romney volunteer who helps Hartwell coordinate the campaign's phone-banking efforts, even if that means spending several minutes trying to convince people to vote for Romney.

At one point, Hartwell spent more than seven minutes talking with one woman he described as an African-American Republican and an Evangelical. She prefers Santorum to Romney, Hartwell said, after trying to convince her otherwise.

Still, when he finally hung up, he sighed with relief.

"She said if Mitt Romney is her nominee, he's going to be a great president, I know he'll make a great president, and I'll be there to work for him," he said. "So mission accomplished on that one voter, but it took some time, as you could tell."

Hartwell has another hundred calls to make by Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

From Medical Maggots To Stench Soup, 'Grunt' Explores The Science Of Warfare

When it comes to curiosity, science writer Mary Roach describes herself as someone who is "very out there." Her new book, Grunt, looks at some scientific developments that help keep soldiers safe.
NPR

Venezuela Is Running Out Of Beer Amid Severe Economic Crisis

The country's largest beer producer, Empresas Polar, halted operations because the government restricted access to imported barley. But the president has pinned the entire food crisis on Polar.
NPR

Donald Trump Attacks Federal Judge Involved In Trump University Case

Donald Trump continues to face lawsuits over his for-profit education company, Trump University. Trump accused federal judge Gonzalo Curiel of bias in one case, and said the judge, who is from Indiana, "happens to be, we believe, Mexican." NPR's Ari Shapiro talks to Washington Post political reporter Tom Hamburger about the case.
NPR

Weather Technology Falters Amid Communication Breakdown

Springtime is severe weather time in many parts of the United States. Strong storms and tornadoes can be a daily occurrence. Technology has improved to warn people days in advance, but effectively communicating severe weather remains elusive.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.