Ed Pilkington in Tampa and Amanda Michel in New York
- guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 April 2012 12.05 EDT
A ‘for lease’ sign hangs outside Romney’s campaign office in Manchester, New Hampshire, four days before the primary.
Shackled by the internal battle for the GOP nomination, Romney has been closing offices in key battleground states while the president has been firing on all cylinders for months
Barack Obama is quietly accumulating a powerful army of field organisers and volunteers, giving his bid for a second term in the White House a substantial head start over his Republican rivals.
In crucial swing states across America, the Obama re-election campaign, backed by the Democratic party, is already in full battle mode with more than 200 offices open, staff hired and thousands of election events underway.
By contrast, all four Republican candidates – including the increasingly dominant frontrunner Mitt Romney – are so shackled by their internal battle over the party’s nomination that they have actually been shutting down operations in critical states at the end of each primary.
In the classic swing state of New Hampshire, Romney closed his only office immediately after the January 10 primary. To the astonishment of local Obama organisers, a “for lease” sign was hung outside the Romney headquarters four days before the vote was held. Obama, by contrast, has seven offices up and running in the state, with more than 25 paid staff.