Four members of the Georgetown University College Republicans braved the pouring rain last weekend near Scranton, Penn., the hometown of Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), in an effort to sway the tide of the presidential election.

“It was kind of fun [for the College Republicans on the trip] to campaign against the Obama-Biden ticket in Senator Biden’s hometown,” said Paul Courtney (COL ’11), the director of campus affairs for GUCR.

Courtney said that Pennsylvania is one of the most important states in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections.

“In 2004, President Bush lost the state by just over two points,” he said. “John McCain has the advantage of appealing to not only conservatives, but also moderate Republicans, independents and conservative Democrats.”

Geoffrey Bible (SFS ’12), a freshman representative of GUCR, accompanied a total of 19 students on the trip to Pennsylvania.

With the other 16 students hailing from The George Washington University, the trip, organized by the D.C. Federation of College Republicans, consisted of two and a half days going door-to-door and making phone calls for local and national Republican candidates.

“In total, the 20 of us made over 11,000 voter contacts in two and a half days – 4,000 door-knocks [and] 7000 phone calls,” Bible said. “We braved the pouring rain all day Saturday and did door-knocking – it rained about one and a half to two inches that day.”

The group traveled to Wilkes-Barre, a town in northeast Pennsylvania near Scranton. There, the College Republicans campaigned for McCain and Chris Hackett, the Republican candidate for the state’s 10th Congressional District. Despite the district’s history as a typically solid Republican district, Rep. Christopher Carney (D-Pa.), running for reelection, is leading Hackett by 15 points as of Oct. 9, according to a district-wide poll conducted by Franklin and Marshall College.

“Carney is a freshman incumbent and had the highest amount of pork-barrel spending in the freshman class of congressmen,” Bible said.

Courtney, however, did acknowledge that Pennsylvania was not necessarily the closest battleground state they could have campaigned in.

“Some people question why we were going to Pennsylvania when the polls have Obama ahead in Virginia, right across the Potomac. For one, the trip was planned over a year ago and conventional wisdom told [GUCR] that Pennsylvania would be the nearest battleground state,” he said.

“The Scranton area is one of the most competitive areas in the country, and the College Republicans of D.C. were proud and excited to give our time [to campaign],” added GUCR chair Ellen Dargie (COL ’10).

As of last night, Obama leads McCain nationally by 6.2 points, according to RealClearPolitics.com, an online political database that averages statewide and national polls. In Pennsylvania polls, RealClearPolitics.com had Obama leading McCain by 9.5 points.

Bible said that he found that regular Pennsylvanians were attracted to the Republican message. Most residents were also receptive to the canvassing, he said, with a few exceptions.

“Some people didn’t receive us well – like the lady who told me through the door that no one was home, even though I could see her – but they were [in] the minority,” Bible said. “Most people were very supportive, because as [part of our] get-out-the-vote effort, we contacted people who were either Republicans or Independents and reminded them of the location of their polling place and the times [that they would be] open [on Election Day].”

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