Obama to mobilize supporters in budget push

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will call on millions of supporters to knock on neighbors’ doors this week to pressure Congress to pass his record $3.55 trillion budget, a Democratic official said on Monday.

Obama will ask people who volunteered for his presidential campaign to gather signatures from neighbors to support his budget, which proposes a $1.75 trillion deficit to lift the country out of recession and lay the groundwork for healthcare reform and other big initiatives.

Republicans and some conservative Democrats are concerned about the plan’s record spending, and many fear their constituents will be hurt by proposed lower farm subsidies, new tax provisions and environmental regulations.

The 13 million people on Obama’s campaign list will be asked to call their representatives in Congress to urge them to support the budget plan.

It is the first big test of Obama’s ability to mobilize the army of volunteers who helped him win last November’s presidential election to advance his legislative agenda.

Obama has transferred the volunteer database and its state-of-the-art organizing tools to a new group dubbed Organizing for America, which is run out of the Democratic Party’s national office in Washington.

The organization aims to run a permanent grass-roots effort to help Obama’s policy proposals become law.

Democratic officials were encouraged by the response to their first event in early February, when thousands of groups met in every congressional district to discuss the economy.

Though some meetings were sparsely attended, that first event generated 50,000 responses about how participants were coping with the recession, a Democratic official said.

Organizers plan a more ambitious agenda this week.

In an e-mail message to be sent out on Monday, they will ask volunteers to go door-to-door on Saturday to gather signatures supporting Obama’s budget proposal.

Signatures from each congressional district will be sent to their representative, said the Democratic official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Participants will also be encouraged to contact their congressional representatives directly.

Editing by Alan Elsner