OKLAHOMA CITY — Republicans in Oklahoma are so confident Mitt Romney will win the Sooner State and capture its seven electoral votes Tuesday that they are exporting volunteers to the nearest swing state — Colorado.
More than 50 volunteers left Oklahoma on Sunday and were knocking doors Wednesday in the Denver area and urging voters to support Romney.
“We have so many people that want to help, that because of that, we have the luxury of sending volunteers from Oklahoma to a swing state,” said Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell. “I think Oklahomans realize how important this race is and want to do everything they can to help.”
Colorado is one of about nine swing states where polls show Romney and President Barack Obama within a few points of each other.
Pinnell said the trip, funded entirely by the Oklahoma Republican Party, also gives activists a chance to be involved with a presidential campaign that is running in high gear.
“We feel like we have a very organized victory program here in Oklahoma, but in these swing states they take it to a whole other level,” Pinnell said. “It’s a great learning opportunity for those who want to be involved in politics to see a real well-oiled volunteer operation in a swing state.”
Mark Keeling, a truck driver from Chickasha and the founder of the Grady County tea party, said he joined the Oklahoma GOP’s “Boots on the Ground Deployment” because of his dislike for Obama and government restrictions, such as limits on beverage serving sizes recently proposed in New York.
“The main reason we started the tea party four years ago was to get anybody but Obama,” Keeling said in a telephone interview from Colorado. “I’m a freedom person. … I’m not a socialist. I like my guns. I like my 32-ounce soda pops.
“I’ve got the time, so I wanted to help out.”
Keeling said volunteers are targeting voters who already have requested absentee ballots and reminding them to vote for Romney.
Oklahomans aren’t the only ones joining volunteer efforts in nearby swing states. From Illinois, where Obama is favored to win his home state, Democrats have sent volunteers to nearby swing states Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, said Steve Brown, spokesman for the Illinois Democratic Party.
“Some of that is being coordinated in the areas that border those states,” Brown said. “There’s a feeling in Illinois that the president will do well here.”
Wallace Collins, chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said he has no problem GOP volunteers leaving Oklahoma.
“We’re going to try to keep our powder dry and stay right here and work on Oklahoma issues and Oklahoma voters,” Collins said, “and I think we’ll have a few surprises for them on Nov. 6.”