Hundreds of Donald Trump supporters showed up to a grand opening Saturday of the campaign’s new Georgia digs. And many walked away as newly-minted volunteers for the businessman’s final push to November.
They left with armfuls of campaign signs, absentee ballot information and pledges to knock on neighbors’ doors and work the phones in the final seven weeks before the election.
But the voting will begin sooner than that, which is why both Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are ramping up their ground game in Georgia. Counties will start to mail out absentee ballots next week and advance in-person voting starts on Oct. 17. And both campaigns know there is little better way to reach undecided or unenthusiastic voters than personal interaction with friends or neighbors.
Tyler Brown aims to make sure his friends vote – and soon. He drove from Savannah at 4 a.m. Saturday to make sure he made it in time for the ribbon cutting of Trump’s posh Sandy Springs office.
“I’ve waited for him to run for years and now that it’s happened, I’m all in,” said Brown, who is a teacher. “My friends are all voting for him, too, and I’m making sure they are staying in the fold.”
As the election nears, both campaigns will flood the calendar with events. Jermane Enoch, a Trump volunteer who helps coordinate his outreach to black voters, is organizing a prayer breakfast involving African-American churches and a barbecue in the next few months. The campaign is also targeting Republican voters in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett counties where support for Trump was softer in the March primaries.
“The ground game is ratcheting up – and very quickly,” he said at Saturday’s event. “Our volunteers are engaged, and we know how important one-on-one contact is.”
Kathy Potts and Becky Love have become something of celebrities in Georgia Republican circles with their T-shirts declaring themselves “deplorables” mocking Clinton’s controversial comments last week. The two have fanned out to GOP gatherings across the state helping to rev up support for Trump in between TV appearances.
At each event, Potts carries her own basket labeled “deplorables.” With its contents, she hopes to make sure Georgia stays in the Republican column: Hundreds of absentee ballots.
“We are trying to make a statement,” she said. “And it’s working.”