Campaigns 2012: Candidate offices spring up

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Wander into Uptown Coffee in Mt. Lebanon some afternoon and you might see a cluster of people on their phones, diligently crossing names off of lists.

South Hills residents supporting the re-election of President Barack Obama took up shop in the Washington Road business, where there's plenty of space to make campaign calls and encourage people to vote Nov. 6.

And just down the road in Castle Shannon, Vinnie's Barber Shop became the place seniors gather Monday afternoons to contact their undecided peers in the area and convince them to support the president.

Those spots are going strong and now a field office has opened Dormont, the first in the South Hills and the 46th in the state.

"Although we can't have one in every neighborhood, an office gives our supporters a home in the community and visibility for the campaign," said state Obama campaign spokesman Matt Mittenthal.

There's one distinguishing quality of the office in Dormont, which opened last week, Mr. Mittenthal said: Foot traffic in front of the West Liberty Avenue office is greater than, say, the field office in Pittsburgh's Strip District.

It's not unusual for a field office to spring up so close to an election and a week before voter registration ended in the Commonwealth, Mr. Mittenthal said.

A coffee shop or barber shop are fine gathering places on Saturday mornings or Monday afternoons, he said, but the field office is open seven days from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and provides a home for volunteers.

Meanwhile, the Mitt Romney campaign already has a presence south of the city. Its main Pittsburgh office is in Green Tree. In the off years, it's the Allegheny County Republican headquarters, said state Romney campaign spokesman Billy Pitman.

The field office is also open seven days, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

"We have a very strong ground game that we're very proud of in Pennsylvania and Allegheny County is a huge part of that," he said.

Most offices are staffed with one person who recruits volunteers and fields calls. This week, the Romney campaign moved some staff to Ohio to increase its presence in that key state, but Mr. Pitman did not have a list of which Pennsylvania offices were affected.

neigh_south - electionsmunicipal

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944. First Published October 11, 2012 5:00 AM


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