Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - As President Obama prepares to officially kick off his reelection campaign with a rally here at The Ohio State University on Saturday, the Ohio chapter of Obama for America is already in full swing.
With 18 offices across the state, a state director on staff since 2009 and a digital director dedicated solely to building local online communities in Ohio, the Obama campaign is trying to make up for a harsher political climate with increased effort.
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
“The grassroots organization that we have on this campaign is really the heart and soul of what we do,” the Obama campaign’s Ohio state director Greg Schultz told reporters on the OSU campus on Thursday.
To bolster its voter outreach, the campaign will be employing some new technology on Saturday. When attendees arrive at the 20,000-seat Schottenstein Center on Saturday, they will be greeted by campaign volunteers with iPad’s asking for e-mail addresses, Twitter handles and a list of issues most important to Buckeye State voters.
According to the campaign’s Ohio Digital Director Ashley Bryant, this information gets immediately imported into the campaign’s database and used for the campaign’s traditional outreach efforts.
“With iPads and any type of mobile device, we’re really changing the way we organize,” Bryant said.
The campaign also plans to set up a “pop-up office” at the arena, where supporters can use iPads and cell phones to make phone calls to undecided voters across the country.
“We love for you to walk through our door, we just know that there are some folks that don’t feel as though they have the time to dedicate driving to the office and making the calls,” Bryant said. “So now we’re actually debuting a tool, which is our call tool which you can virtually make a call from anywhere.”
Bryant’s efforts to engage voters in the campaign’s digital community also extend to various social media platforms. Users of the popular picture-sharing application Instagram will be able to share their photos with OFA (Obama for America) Ohio’s account and have the chance to see the photo on the Jumbotron before the president speaks. The music played at the event will have been largely selected by followers of the president’s Twitter account. And the event itself was publicized using the Twitter hashtag #ReadyToGo – a reference to the campaign’s rallying cry from 2008.
“I kind of look at it as I’m creating an interactive experience with the goal to persuade and it’s really persuasion through interaction,” Bryant said. “So as people are starting to see that we have our support base that are re-tweeting our message, they’re sharing our message with their friends and family through our digital tools and that’s our persuasion.”
In 2008, the people responsible for these efforts were called the “new media team,” but as the technology has become more ubiquitous, the Obama campaign contends that the users have diversified.
“It reaches everyone,” Bryant said. “Our online communities are a direct reflection of our local communities on the ground. I think years ago when it was new media, it was more so young Americans, students, but now I mean you have everyone across the board, all walks of life are on our online communities.”
The rally on Saturday will also include appearances by Columbus, Ohio, Mayor Michael Coleman, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, former U.S. Sen. John Glenn of Ohio and various OFA volunteers from the Columbus area. OFA will also screen several campaign videos for the crowd.