This story was written by Tom Schalmo, Badger Herald
Calling it "unprecedented in Wisconsin political history," Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle announced a massive text messaging drive to be launched when Sen. Barack Obama visits Madison Tuesday.
Speaking to the media at Obama's makeshift campaign office at Laundry 101, "the most unique campaign headquarters anywhere in the United States," Doyle expressed excitement over this evening's event.
Obama -- who faces off against Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary Feb. 19 -- will hold a "Madison Stand for Change" rally this evening at the Kohl Center. Doors open at 6 p.m., 15 minutes earlier than originally scheduled due to the large crowd anticipated.
Doyle encouraged those who attend to bring their cell phones to receive instructions on how sign up for volunteer hours and receive campaign updates leading up to the Wisconsin primary.
"This has never been done in Wisconsin on this scale," Doyle said. "But it is just one more way that this campaign is using technology and helping people get more involved in the political process."
Hundreds of volunteers in Wisconsin have already made more than 5,000 cell phone calls to this point, Doyle said.
The governor expects a strong turnout to brave the elements and show up at the Kohl Center Tuesday evening and encouraged attendees to "dress warmly" in case they must wait in line.
Doyle said Wisconsin may not be a "must-win" for Obama but, with Wisconsin such a key battleground state in the general election, he added winning the primary is important.
"If you can't compete and win here among Democratic primary voters, it doesn't bode well for winning the White House in November," Doyle said. "Sen. Obama certainly understands this. That is why he is going to be working very, very hard in Wisconsin."
Doyle added Obama will be "in and out" of Wisconsin several times over the next week.
With Obama's victories in several primaries last weekend, Doyle said Obama has momentum leading into Wisconsin but is not the frontrunner in the race.
"It's like he's running against an incumbent," Doyle said. "Through this whole race, he's been running against the person who's probably the third-best known person in the United States. After President Bush and President Clinton, Hillary Clinton is as close as you come to an incumbent."
Obama also announced Monday he will join Clinton in attending the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Founders Day Dinner this Saturday in Milwaukee.
Clinton accepted an invitation to a debate at Marquette University sponsored by ABC News, WISN-TV and Wispolitics.com. Obama's campaign says they are sorting out their schedule and did not rule out an appearance.
Doyle, though, said voters have had plenty of opportunities to hear from the candidates.
"They've debated more than any two candidates have debated in the history of primary elections," Doyle said.
Madison Ald. Zach Brandon, District 7, owns Laundry 101 and said the student involvement in this year's primary is exciting.
"There's so much energy, and by and large, it's student energy," Brandon said. "I think that bodes well not only for [tonight's] event at the Kohl Center but also in the results of the election."
Brandon added if Obama becomes the eventual Democratic nominee, the makeshift campaign office might stay open but said, "we'll cross that bridge when we get there."
© 2008 Badger Herald via U-WIRE