Volunteers, ads stump for presidential candidates in East Tennessee

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- Republican front-runner John McCain was in Nashville on Saturday, campaign to the record number of Tennesseans expected to cast a vote in the Super Tuesday primaries.

Senator McCain was also the only presidential candidate campaigning in the Volunteer state on Saturday.

During his speech from the gymnasium of Montgomery Bell Academy, he reflected on recent endorsements, his promise to unify the Republican Party, and the need for all Tennesseans to vote in the primary.

"We won in New Hampshire, we won in South Carolina and we won in Florida,” McCain said. “We have got to win here in Tennessee, we have got to win this race on Tuesday. I need your help to do it, I need you to turn out."

Presidential candidates may not have made the trip to East Tennessee, but with only days left before the polls open, political volunteers in Knoxville were busy trying to bake the political recipe for success.

For Barack Obama supporter Dorothy Bennett, the fight for the vote was on, and the main event was just three days away.

“We want all the votes we can get in this state, it’s a battle and a campaign's a competition," she said.

On Saturday, Bennett was one of many volunteers canvassing Knoxville neighborhoods and punching up phone numbers in a call bank.

“We have about 50 teams out in the community, going door to door," she said. “We have people who have come in from other states to help us. We have students from the university. We have people from the neighborhoods."

Anthony Nownes, a University of Tennessee Political Science professor, believes there is a reason that droves of people are signing up to pitch their candidates to the community.

"I think this year's Super Tuesday is arguably more exciting that the past several," he said. "Most people already have their minds made up, so it's all more important for the candidate to make sure their supporters actually get out and vote."

Nownes said words might not be enough, which is why you have started to see several commercials supporting Obama, Clinton, and republican Mike Huckabee.

“In a large state like this, TV ads are actually more important simply because they reach more people,” the professor said.

But his reasoning behind the lack of more republican candidate commercials is based in the native son theory.

“With the republicans, they had more or less given it to Fred Thompson,” he said, “and it takes awhile to get things up and moving."

If early voting is any sign of things to come, then Tuesday’s voter turnout could break state records.

For complete coverage of the presidential primaries and the county by county contests, be sure to stay connected with Volunteer TV News and VolunteerTV.com.

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