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Obama camp to open more N.D. offices

The Barack Obama campaign is aiming for 100 volunteer teams in North Dakota as the presidential race moves into its final weeks, officials said.

Fifty teams are already in place, they said Tuesday and training will continue. The current four campaign offices in the state will grow to as many as 10 in coming weeks, they said.

"North Dakota is one of the battleground states," said Jim Messina, the Obama campaign chief of staff and a native Montanan. He is also a former chief of staff to Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

That's welcome news to Obama supporter and former North Dakota Democratic-NPL chairman Dan Hannaher of Fargo, who's grown tired of Democratic presidential candidates writing off the state as unwinnable every for years for the past several decades. He called the Obama camp efforts unprecedented.

"I'm convinced Barack is going to win here, because of the fundamental grassroots nature (of the campaign)," Hannaher said. And he expects the enthusiasm generated by the Obama campaign will help all Democratic candidates in the state.

State Obama campaign director Jan Messerschmidt said polls show that 85 percent of Obama supporters label themselves "enthusiastic supporters" and only 50 p percent of McCain's supporters do.

"Every day, more people come to our offices and want to work for Barack For Change," he said.

State Republican Chairman Gary Emineth John McCain's campaign is also organizing in the state, but at the state party and district party level. The lack of a McCain North Dakota office doesn't mean there is nothing being done. North Dakota Republicans are organizing and getting active for McCain in ways much more at a grassroots level, he said.

"We're laying out plans for a very organized McCain effort in North Dakota, but it's going to be a grassroots (effort)," he said. It will be more evident after the national convention, he said.

He also predicted McCain will come to North Dakota later in the campaign.

The Obama workers, Emineth said, "most of them are interns from out of state." When it comes time to vote, North Dakotans are going to be more impressed with what their neighbors have to say than "some 22 -year-old from out of state."

Emineth said what the Obama campaign is doing is pouring money and advertising into traditional Republican states like North Dakota and Montana and then polling to see if the efforts are generating results in polls. If the advertising isn't working in those states, they will quit advertising, he said, adding that the Obama campaign had, as of Tuesday, pulled its advertising in Montana.

That's not true, Messerschmidt said. "The answer is no."