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Post-DNC: Energized Democrats pick up campaigning pace

CHARLOTTE Now the work begins.

Democratic National Convention delegates who cheered their political heroes late into the night this week are headed home to try to turn their brimming enthusiasm for President Barack Obama into votes.

Convention-goers leave this city with marching orders to intensify their effort.

They know it will be tougher this year and expect to encounter many more fence-sitters than in 2008.

It would be a shame “if we come and are excited for a week and we don’t then go out and do the work,” said Lee Storrow, a Chapel Hill Council member.

That message made it into nearly every official convention speech.

It was the theme of Michelle Obama’s message Thursday at a women’s caucus meeting that drew hundreds of people of both sexes. She told the crowd that their work started as soon as they left the meeting room.

“We don’t have a minute to waste,” she said. “We all need to work like we’ve never worked before – every day between now and Nov. 6. You got me?”

To capitalize on the convention energy, the Obama campaign in North Carolina plans a Day of Action on Saturday, where volunteers will call voters and go door-to-door. Republicans plan a similar volunteer workday to support GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Delegate Denise Adams of Winston-Salem already has a strategy and organizing plans for Friday. She’s hosting a meeting at her house, inviting her sister, friends and volunteers on her own City Council campaign to talk about turning out voters.

The plan is to get a list of voters from her city district and see who voted in 2008 but didn’t cast a ballot in the 2010 off-year. She wants volunteers to call or visit those who sat out the 2010 election. She wants to register new voters at churches, markets, wherever they can find them. The goal is to significantly increase voter turnout.

“They all have to work from Friday until Nov. 6 at 7:30,” Adams said.

Obama’s win in North Carolina four years ago was a squeaker. His campaign volunteers are prepared for a tough campaign season, with Republicans working hard to win and with the state’s unemployment rate one of the highest in the nation.

There is also worry that the campaign won’t get the convention bounce it had counted on from the thousands of Obama volunteers who were coming to hear the president’s speech and would presumably leave pumped up. Those volunteers stayed home when the speech was moved because of threatening rain.

September McCrady, a delegate from Statesville in Iredell County, said she’s worried that the volunteers’ disappointment might weaken their resolve to work for Obama. But she’s hoping that the stakes of the election will serve as powerful motivator.

Iredell is a Republican County, but McCrady is ready to work for Obama votes by talking about her family’s stories and using the store of information she picked up from former President Bill Clinton’s nominating speech.

McCrady is ready to tell how she got a refund check from her insurance company after the national healthcare law passed, and how the auto company bailout helped her mother continue to work at GM until she reached retirement.

To counter skepticism about how Obama has handled the economy, McCrady plans to respond with “arithmetic,” echoing a Clinton argument that Romney’s plan for tax cuts cannot lead to a balanced budget.

“Bill laid out fact after fact,” she said. “I believe we go on to make our case with facts.”

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