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Republicans practice intense outreach with energy in the air

February 02, 2008|By Michael Alexander

It’s a historic primary election in California, and local members of the Republican grassroots are out there ready to press for their candidates. With an election early enough to matter in the national race, many say this time the game on the ground is in whole new territory.

There’s a very different tenor to the campaign in California this year, said Orange County GOP chairman Scott Baugh, the former Huntington Beach Assemblyman who along with his successor in the district, Assemblyman Jim Silva, is heavily involved in the local campaign for Mitt Romney.

“Activity absolutely is higher,” Baugh said. “What’s not different is California’s always been an ATM machine for most of the candidates. This year money’s being raised here again, but it’s also being spent here as well.”

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That leads to a real sense of energy in the area, said Kevin Muldoon, the Orange County chairman for the John McCain campaign.

“It’s really exciting in the Southern California area, especially Orange County,” he said. “We’re hoping to show John McCain is the most Republican candidate for the most Republican county. For us it’s been a real blitz; OK, now all attention’s on California, and all attention’s on Orange County for me personally.”

That blitz has included aggressive outreach to local groups like the Lincoln Club of Orange County, Muldoon said. This weekend’s plan involves Super Bowl parties to get supporters together to make phone calls.

Mike Huckabee supporters did phone banking from their homes over the weekend, while some gathered in Newport Beach Wednesday for a private fundraiser with the candidate, geared toward the candidates’ appearances at a Simi Valley debate.

“We are definitely doing phone-banking, sign-waving and all the other campaign stuff that makes this so fun,” said Huckabee supporter Mike Morabito.

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