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Charlie Crist is 'behind the eight ball," says Rick Scott's internal ground-game memo


Remember yesterday's column about how Democrats' voter-registration edge isn't all it's cracked up to be? Well, neither is the party's ground game, according to the following memo from Gov. Rick Scott's Deputy Campaign Manager Tim Saler. Here it is:

FROM: Tim Saler, Deputy Campaign Manager
TO: Interested Parties
SUBJECT: First Stages of the 2014 Ground Game

As you may have seen, Charlie Crist’s campaign announced that they will be opening their Broward County office this week. While the details seem to change by the minute – a third personal residence for Crist in Fort Lauderdale became a field office opening Tuesday, which then turned into a South Florida headquarters opening Saturday – I thought this would be a good opportunity to update you on the early stages of our campaign’s ground game activities.

This past week, a young volunteer named Merlyn Asencio from Hialeah knocked the 120,000th targeted door for Governor Rick Scott in the 2014 cycle. To put that in perspective, the joint Romney for President and Republican Party of Florida effort took until the week of August 5 in the 2012 campaign to knock as many doors as our volunteers have already knocked for Governor Scott.

With our campaign’s early focus on face-to-face, door-to-door, targeted voters we believe we are on the path to execute the most sophisticated and successful direct voter engagement campaign in Florida history.

We have every expectation that, if the Crist campaign is serious about following the Obama playbook, they will deploy nearly 100 campaign-funded field offices around the state. After all, when Terry McAuliffe followed that same playbook in Virginia, he opened 41 offices in a state less than half the size of Florida. But field infrastructure needs to be deployed early in the campaign in order to maximize effectiveness, and the Crist campaign is already behind the eight ball compared to the Obama strategy.

Our approach is different. While we are already deploying a presidential-level infrastructure operation around the state, we believe in decentralizing the voter contact process and empowering precinct leaders to collect data within their communities. Every door that is knocked is a targeted door, with specific voters we need to reach with specific messages. With new technology in place, we are now collecting data from these door knocks in real time and adjusting our voter contact programs based on constant feedback.

Our regional field team is fully in place, and we are hiring local field directors all over the state. Our volunteer leadership is strong, with more than a thousand precinct volunteers already working in their communities to re-elect Governor Scott.

Charlie Crist is welcome to rent as many homes as he feels he needs to make the case that he is doing sufficient voter outreach. Charlie Crist is welcome to open as many field offices as his Obama advisers tell him he must in order to follow their paint-by-numbers plan. But while the Crist team is still months away from any sort of cohesive campaign strategy, our plan to re-elect Governor Scott is fully into the execution phase. We see the results every day when volunteers like Merlyn are breaking new ground in our campaign’s efforts to engage voters where it matters most.