MADISON, Wis. - As workers spoke into walkie-talkies and lugged portable fences around downtown Madison streets on Sunday, the presidential campaigns turned their focus to exciting voters enough to turn out at the polls this week.
President Barack Obama has a scheduled campaign stop on Monday morning on Martin Luther King Blvd., two blocks from the state Capitol.
The stop is aimed at voter turnout, especially among young voters in Madison and others elsewhere in a key state, said Robert Gibbs, a senior campaign adviser for the president.
"We have thought for a long time that our path to 270 electoral votes goes through Wisconsin," Gibbs said. "Whenever you can bring the president someplace, whenever you can use his presence to make his final case, to get people energized and excited, I think it's always a big benefit."
Meanwhile, Republican Mitt Romney relied on surrogates Sunday to make his case. Romney has a chance to become the first Republican to win Wisconsin since the 1980s.17266218
"You want to live in an America where we have a balanced budget, more jobs and Democrats and Republicans working together to solve the problems of our country," Gov. Scott Walker told a crowd in Milwaukee. "There's only one candidate that you can vote for this Tuesday, and that's Mitt Romney."
A Marquette University Law School poll released last Wednesday indicated Obama held an 8 percentage point lead over Romney. The poll had a margin of error of 2.8 percent.
Crews spent Sunday afternoon setting up bleachers, the president's stage, and media risers on the street in front of the City-County Building.
Obama will speak with that building at his back, so that the Capitol will be to his left. Thousands of attendees are expected for an event that will include a Bruce Springsteen performance.
"Our concerns are traffic backups in the downtown area," said Tom Mohr, a city traffic engineer. Several streets around the event site were already closed Sunday, with several more to shut down overnight.
The best way to get through downtown is via Johnson and Gorham streets, although drivers should simply avoid the area if possible, Mohr said.
Most streets should reopen by early afternoon, he said.
Downtown workers voiced concerns about the event Sunday on social media.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said all city employees must show up for work in the morning, and that workers should enter the Municipal and City-County buildings from the rear.
Employees who have windows facing Martin Luther King Blvd. or Doty Street will have alternate workspaces for the morning, Soglin said.
Workers who want to use flex time to attend the rally must clear it with a supervisor first, he said.