Obama’s All-Nighter: Tampa Deja Vu

Photograph by Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times/Zuma Press

President Barack Obama gets a hug from a firefighter at Station 14 during a stop in Tampa, Fla. on Oct. 25, 2012.

All-nighters, early morning campaigning in Tampa.

It’s like deja vu all over again.

President Barack Obama, making a 48-hour, nonstop tour of swing states and stopping at home-town Chicago today to vote early,  opened a campaign rally at Centennial Park in Tampa, Florida, this morning at 9 am following a donut-shop stop and 7 am basketball with fire fighters.

There’s a reason he was there: Tampa’s Hillsborough County has voted the way Florida has voted in every presidential election since the 1960s.

Democrats Al Gore and Joe Lieberman stumped there, too, during a 24-hour all-nighter tour on Labor Day 2000, with pre-dawn stops at an all-night diner, bakery and — of course — a fire house in Tampa.

“Thanks for waking up early,” Obama told his Tampa audience today, following a four-hour overnight flight from Las Vegas and an early morning stop at a Krispy Kreme in Tampa.

“You know, we are right in the middle of our 48-hour fly-around campaign extravaganza,” the president said. “We are pulling — we pulled an all-nighter last night.  We just came from Iowa, Nevada, Colorado.  We’re going to Virginia and Ohio. I’m going to stop in Chicago.  I’m going to do some early voting in Chicago.”

“And you notice, my voice is getting a little hoarse,” Obama said. “But I’m just going to keep on — just going to keep on keeping on — until every single person out there who needs to vote is going to go vote.  Because the stakes are just so high, Florida.”

It’s the biggest of all swing states, with 29 electoral votes at stake.

In 2000, when 27 electoral votes were at stake there, Gore based his first debate camps on Gulf-coast Florida and made Tampa a pivotal stop on his 24-hour Labor Day tour and other days as well.

Gore and Lieberman lost Hillsborough County by 11,203 votes that year — Tampa and environs casting 180,760 ballots for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and 169,557 for the Democratic ticket.

It’s the closeness of elections like that one — and the closing margins and dead-heats that Obama faces in his contest with Republican Mitt Romney in this and other swing  states — that add some breathlessness to the all-nighter pressure on Democrats to go vote early.

537 — the title of the Obama campaign’s new campaign ad — comes from Florida 2000.

They’ll be playing that one around the clock in Tampa.


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