Rick Perry Draws In Volunteers in Expansive Iowa Ground Game Effort
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - Walk into this West Des Moines hotel, and you'll easily encounter volunteers in Rick Perry fleeces or staffers wearing official Rick Perry badges.
The Perry campaign has set up shop here just days before the Iowa caucuses while nearly two thousand volunteers fan out across the state to promote the Texas governor with an expansive ground game as the campaign hopes he'll earn a top three spot in the caucuses Tuesday.
A source close to the Perry campaign confirmed to ABC News they have signed up 1500 precinct leaders across Iowa.
At each of the stops along his bus tour through Iowa over the past two weeks, the campaign set up a table asking people to sign up to become precinct leaders. During the first leg of the bus tour, they averaged about 7 people signing up at each event, the source claimed, but during the second leg of the tour this past week, the precinct leader sign-ups jumped to more than 10 at each stop.
The entire campaign team in Austin transplanted to Iowa earlier this week in preparation for the caucuses, and a volunteer "strike force" of more than 450 volunteers from 30 states arrive in the Hawkeye state this weekend.
Part of that "strike force" are Perry's wife Anita, daughter Sydney, son Griffin and daughter-in-law Meredith, who joined him on the campaign trail Friday and Saturday and will stay through the caucuses.
Perry's official headquarters are in West Des Moines, but the bulk of his team will work out of a hotel here throughout the caucuses. The Perry team has rented out two ballrooms and a smaller office space where the volunteers can work from throughout the week.
ABC News dropped by the Perry shop Saturday afternoon. More than a dozen volunteers sat making phone calls in one of the ballrooms with 4X8 signs reading "Perry President" sitting around the space while a slew of other volunteers were out in the area on the nice weathered day knocking on doors and hanging up Perry signs throughout the Des Moines area.
Perry made a surprise stop of his own Saturday, as he visited the home of Marlow Remmers, a precinct leader in the West Des Moines area. With press in tow, Perry knocked on doors in the small neighborhood and mingled with voters on the street corner.
In addition to the home base here, volunteers are working out of hotels in four different cities across Iowa - Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Mason City and Sioux City.
A recent Iowa poll had Perry in fourth place with fourteen percent, trailing Rick Santorum by one point. Over the past three days, Perry has made a consistent effort to attack Santorum as the two are both trying to woo the same conservative evangelical bloc of voters in Iowa.
Perry's campaign announced Saturday that the Texas governor will head straight to South Carolina on Wednesday following the caucuses, bypassing New Hampshire, which most candidates will fly to immediately, until the ABC News and NBC debates there next weekend.