McCain volunteers make a final push in Colorado

By: Jim Spellman, cnn.com
By: Jim Spellman, cnn.com
CENTENNIAL, Colorado (CNN) -- Although John McCain is 7 percentage points behind in the polls, his supporters in the major battleground state of Colorado are still hitting the streets and burning up the phone lines.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., places his hand over his heart as he acknowledges the cheers of supporters at a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio Sunday afternoon, Oct. 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (CNN) -- Although John McCain is 7 percentage points behind in the polls, his supporters in the major battleground state of Colorado are still hitting the streets and burning up the phone lines.

Volunteers fueled by dozens of doughnuts hurry in and out of an office building in Centennial. With all the landlines occupied, some call voters on their cell phones.

Working off a script, they try to talk the person on the other end over to their side.

When their conversation seems successful and they have a promised vote for McCain, they ring a bell and the room applauds.

Slogans on a whiteboard declare "Victory is ours" and advise volunteers to "Portray your passion" but "Stick to the script."

"I love the days when the bells just ring non-stop," said Jennifer Raiffie, 38, who is known at the campaign office as "Jen, the security guard." Laid off from a tech company, the 38-year-old has been working the night shift as a security guard.

When her shift ends at 8 a.m., she pitches in at the campaign office. Raiffie began volunteering a month ago after speaking with John McCain when he stopped in Denver. Raiffie considers herself an Independent and loves bringing like-minded voters to McCain's side.

Cassena Henning, a 28-year-old stay-at-home mom from Fort Knox, Kentucky, has been in Colorado working for the campaign for two months. She is bunking with her sister while her husband, a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army, stays home with their two kids.

She expects he'll deploy soon, but the couple is unsure where. Henning wants someone with military experience in the White House.

"It's John McCain's story that got me here," she said. "It's very important to me that John McCain is his commander in chief."

Mark Rubinson, a 22-year-old Denver college student, said he gets dirty looks when he wears his John McCain shirt on campus. But on this day, he's wearing Denver Broncos pajama bottoms, an orange satin Broncos jacket and a rubber Broncos hat in the shape of a horse's head. It's game day for the Broncos and crunch time for McCain. Rubinson appears in his element as he phones voters.

"John McCain likes being the underdog," Rubinson said. "The only place you can go when you are on top is down, but when you are the underdog you can move up." iReport.com: See what high school students in Centennial, Colorado think of the election

The Broncos, three-point underdogs going into Sunday's game, lost to the Miami Dolphins, 26-17.

Barbara Piper, a 67-year-old part-time real estate agent from the Denver suburbs, has been volunteering for two months. She has election fatigue like so many others and knows that political ads and campaign rhetoric only go so far. But she smiled and nodded her head when asked if she has ever swayed an undecided voter to her side.

"I think a lot of people don't listen to commercials, but one-on-one they are willing to listen to you," she said.

Carol Hobson, a 41-year-old corporate security expert, came to Colorado from Phoenix, Arizona, and spent the weekend going door to door. She and a team of volunteers skip houses with Barack Obama signs and even those with McCain signs.

"If they have a sign they'll probably vote," she said. "We focus on the people who need a little push."

Hobson is energized by McCain's lagging poll numbers.

"It's a huge motivator," she said.


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