FRANCE24 stopped by Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, to get a sense of the team’s mood three days before the vote as polls showed the race in the state -- and the country at large -- to be deadlocked.
Arlington, Virginia, is a well-off suburb outside of Washington DC, full of young professionals and families who voted for President Barack Obama by a wide margin (more than 60%) in 2008. Indeed, the county helped Obama become the first Democrat to win the coveted swing state since 1964.
But in the heart of downtown Arlington lies a packed, breathlessly busy office full of faithful Republicans: the Romney/Ryan campaign's Virginia headquarters. On Saturday, November 3, just 72 hours before Election Day, FRANCE 24 stopped by and found an army of volunteers of all ages working the telephones, talking strategy, and picking up pamphlets and signs to distribute to voters in the street.
In the call room, certain phrases emerged from the chorus of overlapping voices: “Romney and Ryan”, “make sure to vote”, “our veterans”, and “God bless”.
The volunteers seemed energised and devoted, but there was a tinge of panic and a touch of fatigue beneath the upbeat tones and confident smiles. Recent polls have shown a deadlocked national race, but with Obama retaining an edge in most of the key swing states and a clearer path than his rival to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election.
Surveys of Virginia have been some of the closest of all, with neither candidate seeming to have a decisive edge. One Romney campaign worker who did not wish to be named or photographed confided that he is nervous. “I’m not sure Romney’s going to win Virginia,” he said. “It’s going to be very tight.”
Another staffer put on his game face to welcome a group of volunteers. “It’s cold out there, but it’s just heating up in here!” he exclaimed as he ushered them into the call room.
Here, in photos, is a look at the Romney/Ryan “Arlington Victory Office” in full swing during the final days of a bruising presidential campaign.
Three days before the election, volunteers make calls from 9am to 9pm at the Romney headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, an affluent, left-leaning area near Washington DC. Volunteers hope that enthusiasm and a high turnout will give them an edge on Nov. 6.
Volunteer Diana Calingo, in red, had some questions for us, as we made our way around the room: "Are you Republicans? Who are you voting for? Who do you think is going to win?" she wanted to know. One of the volunteers joked: "I hope you're the French FOX News!"
One volunteer, left, is almost entirely blind, but worked the phones tirelessly. Reflecting outloud on 2016, she predicted: "Hillary will run in 2016, hopefully against President Romney!". Another volunteer retorted: "No way. Hillary's damaged goods after Benghazi."
An elderly volunteer who declined to give her name (right) seemed anxious about the latest polls. "Did you see Rasmussen today?" she called out, referring to a poll that has shown Romney leading the national vote. "They're tied. Not good. It's because of damn Sandy."
"People blame the guy in power when things go wrong, and there are plenty of problems after Sandy," another volunteer, left, reassured her. "People will be surprised at how well we do Election Day. It may be close here in Virginia, but we'll win big overall."
He's not of voting age, but this 15-year-old is already an avid Republican: he supports Romney and is a fan of former President Ronald Reagan. "I like talking to well-informed Democrats, too," he quipped, adding that he can't wait to vote in 2016 - to re-elect Romney.
John Leisenring, a venture capitalist, said Ohio would be tough for Romney to win. "But I think we'll take North Carolina, Florida, Virginia. That gives it to us," he said. "I heard Obama already picked out a multimillion-dollar home in Hawaii. He knows he's losing."
Two volunteers, Nadine and Khulan, braved the cold to put up signs outside. "Every little thing helps," Nadine said. Meanwhile, a pair of hipster women passing by refused to stop and talk to to the Romney volunteers. "I like Obama," one of them said testily.
"I'm not optimistic," one volunteer whispered. "But don't tell my husband!" Until Tuesday, the Virginia headquarters will be abuzz with Romney supporters pushing through exhaustion and anxiety to deliver their state - and, they hope, the country - to their candidate.
Date created : 2012-11-04