When Packers play, campaigning takes a back seat

Associated Press Modified: November 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: November 4, 2012
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While Thompson met with fans Sunday, Baldwin gathered with campaign volunteers in Milwaukee and watched part of the game with staffers. With a Packers scarf hanging around her neck, she clapped politely when Aaron Rodgers connected with James Jones on a 28-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter to give Green Bay a 21-7 lead over the Arizona Cardinals. Green Bay eventually won, 31-17.

About 25 Baldwin staffers ate sandwiches and crowded around the game, giving themselves and potential voters a break from campaigning.

"The second it's over you can get back out on the streets, knock on doors, get back on the phones again," Baldwin said.

While Packers fans enjoy their reprieve, football fans in other swing states might be looking to Wisconsin with envy. The Obama and Romney campaigns still make calls in Ohio when Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns games are on, and in Florida while the Miami Dolphins are playing.

"Wisconsinites take their Packers very seriously," said Nicole Tieman, the Wisconsin communications director for the Republican National Committee. "Calling somebody that is a Packers fan during a Packers game is a great way not to get a vote."

Some Packers fans said those concerns might be overblown, even though they were grateful for the three-hour break.

Pat Wickert, 59, of New Berlin, said she was so determined to vote for Obama that she wouldn't change her vote just because of annoying phone calls. She said when a game is on she simply screens her calls, and she wouldn't give much time to people who knock on her door.

Jeff Johnson, a 59-year-old from Beloit, appreciates not having the game interrupted by politicking. But he also said he's so eager to get rid of Obama that game interruptions wouldn't be enough to get him to change his vote.

Still, the campaigns know that might not be the case for everyone.

"That is an always-and-forever, hard-and-fast rule: Thou shalt not knock on people's doors or call them on the phones from kickoff (of a Packers game) until the clock reads zero," said Joe Zepecki, a spokesman for Obama's Wisconsin campaign. "It's been that way in Wisconsin for as long as I can remember."

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Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.