HOLLAND, Ohio (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama walked door-to-door in a working class Ohio neighborhood on Sunday, urging committed Democrats to vote for him and trying to win over wavering independents.
Obama’s stroll down Shrewsbury Street in Holland, Ohio, was a relatively rare foray into retail politics for the Illinois senator, who appears to be pulling away from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona according to national opinion polls.
“Remember: everybody can vote right now. There is early voting in Ohio. Don’t wait,” Obama, his sleeves rolled up, said as walked down the street knocking on doors, shaking hands and fielding questions in the Toledo suburb of modest brick homes.
With 20 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the November 4 presidential election, Ohio is a central front in this year’s campaign and was the state that secured Republican President George W. Bush his 2004 reelection victory.
Obama will spend the next three days in Ohio, where recent polls show a statistical dead heat with him slightly ahead of McCain, to prepare for their last televised debate on Wednesday.
Several of the people Obama met stressed their anxieties about the U.S. economy, which many economists believe is headed for a recession amid the global financial crisis that dragged major U.S. stock indices down some 18 percent last week.
“We’re in a scary time right now,” said Mike Klear, a truck driver who hauls steel for a small firm called Keep It Moving of Toledo. “We just had a meeting Saturday ... about how everyone is scared what the future holds.”
Klear said he was an independent who typically supports Democrats and planned to vote for Obama.
Obama exhorted Democrats to vote -- early, if possible, as permitted in Ohio -- and he passed out flyers with information about where to cast their ballots before election day.
Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the candidate was also targeting “persuadables” in his 50-minute walk, trying to convince undecided independents and Republicans to back him.
As is typical in such get-out-the-vote efforts, Obama did concentrate on committed Republicans, including Dan Crandall, 26, a customer service worker sitting in front of his house with a McCain sign planted in his front lawn.
“He probably skipped me because of the sign,” Crandall said with a laugh, saying he would have been happy to talk to Obama but this would not have changed his plans to vote Republican.
“I am for smaller government, lower taxes. I‘m just not a big fan of the government telling us what to do.”
Editing by John O'Callaghan