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Campaign season winds down
Obama, McCain volunteers prepared for weekend's last get-out-the-vote push
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With only a few more days to go before the 2008 election season comes to a close, the presidential campaigns in Newton County are getting ready for one last weekend get-out-the-vote push before Tuesday.

Jennifer Gordon, field director of South DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties for the Obama campaign, said the campaign will be phone-banking and canvassing this weekend.

"We've got quite a few activities," Gordon said. "In Covington, we have a pretty strategic plan to keep ... all of our volunteer-base making internal phone calls, canvassing neighborhoods and just really keeping the positive spirit of the campaign going."

Gordon said the campaign had three specific Newton County voting precincts targeted for canvassing efforts this weekend.

"We're just excited about what we've built," she said. "We have a huge volunteer base that will be blanketing the neighborhood, getting the word out about Senator Obama and Senator Biden."

The McCain campaign plans to do some neighborhood canvassing and phone-banking of voters in the critical swing state of Florida as well as some phone-banking to undecided, Republican and independent voters in the county, said Frank Turner Jr., Newton County John McCain campaign chair.

Turner estimated that more than 1,000 John McCain/Sarah Palin signs and 750 bumper stickers have been passed out in the county.

However, the stealing of campaign yard signs for both campaigns has been an issue.

Gordon said the theft and defacing of Barack Obama/Joe Biden yard signs has been significant and is a much bigger issue in Newton County than in neighboring Rockdale County.

"As soon as a set of yard signs have gone up, they've been systematically taken down," said Gordon, adding that the campaign has an attorney voter protection team looking into the issue.

Turner also said there have been reports of the thefts of McCain/Palin yard signs, but added that the stealing of campaign signs is a common occurrence during election season.

Both the McCain and Obama campaigns have made available campaign signs and campaign paraphernalia from down the party ticket candidates at their Conyers Street and Emory Street headquarters respectively.

Gordon said this has been the most exciting presidential campaign with which she has ever been involved.

"It took a while to get those who were disenfranchised from the two prior elections motivated," she said, adding that the Obama campaign has seen an enormous response from local Democrats running for office seeking to join forces.

Turner said he thinks more residents have become concerned in recent weeks with the possibility of the Democrats picking up enough Senate seats to have a filibuster proof majority.

"I think people are starting to realize the gravity of that and I think that's helping [Sen.] Saxby Chambliss in Georgia as people realize the seriousness of what the country would face in that scenario," he said.

Both campaigns praised the efforts of their volunteers.

"We have had a tremendous outpouring of support from the Evangelical community and fiscal conservatives," said Turner, adding that the campaign has had about 400 volunteers sign up to work for McCain's election.

Unlike the presidential races of 2000 and 2004, Turner said the campaign will have poll watchers stationed throughout the county to watch for any voter irregularities. The Obama campaign said they have also signed up poll watchers.

"I think voter turnout is going to be record turnout. It remains to be seen what that means for Newton County," Turner said. "How that trickles down the ticket, I think we'll find out on Tuesday."