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Teri Finneman, Published July 24 2008

Obama opens offices in N.D.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama has beefed up his presence in North Dakota.

His Democratic campaign has opened three “Campaign for Change” offices in the state this month, with locations in Bismarck, Grand Forks and now Fargo. An office opens in Minot next week.

North Dakota State Director Anita Decker said the Fargo office at 107 Roberts St. will serve as headquarters and will be open every day.

“We want to make sure we’re here building relationships with North Dakotans,” she said.

The opening of the state offices offers opportunities to reach out to and listen to voters, said Dan Hannaher, a senior North Dakota adviser for the campaign.

About 50 staffers will work with volunteers throughout the state to do phone and door-to-door campaigning on Obama’s behalf, he said.

“It’s unprecedented from my experience, the commitment and the fervor of this campaign,” Hannaher said.

Obama himself said earlier this month during his visit to Fargo that he thinks he has a chance to win North Dakota, a state he said has been neglected in previous presidential contests.

Meanwhile, the Republicans haven’t had a presidential presence in the state since former candidate Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the race in January and closed his Fargo office.

However, supporters of Republican presidential candidate John McCain say they’re spreading the word about their candidate.

McCain campaign spokesman Tom Steward said the campaign is working with grass-roots supporters to establish “victory offices.”

At this point, there aren’t any in North Dakota, he said.

The campaign has eight offices in Minnesota, with two more opening by Aug. 1. The closest office to Fargo-Moorhead is in St. Cloud, he said.

However, Steward said the campaign isn’t taking North Dakota for granted.

“In general, we’ve got a pretty strong constituency for our party up there,” he said. “They do a good job of spreading the word, too. That’s always been a major component in states where we tend to run stronger.”

When asked when McCain would visit North Dakota, Steward said it was “fluid.”

“We don’t have any word yet. We’re certainly hoping it’s soon,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560