At the Organizing for America South Carolina headquarters earlier this month - one of the 50 state efforts to re-elect President Barack Obama - it fell to Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson to rally a group of about 16 women to make phone calls during dinner.
"You carry yourself as though you are a proud woman; you are proud to be a Democrat," she said. "You do not want to address any of the negatives. But you have to stay very, very positive."
While state Republican leaders are using the national exposure of the state's first-in-the-South presidential primary to rally their troops, S.C. Democrats - who already have a candidate in Obama - have had to look for ways to motivate their voters. So far, they have opened offices in Columbia and Charleston, both Democratic strongholds, and brought in an S.C. native to be the face of the campaign.
"We intend to compete in South Carolina," said Rick Wade, senior advisor for Obama's S.C. campaign, who was a member of former Gov. Jim Hodges' administration and the state's 2002 Democratic nominee for secretary of state.
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A Democratic presidential candidate has not won South Carolina since 1976, when Southerner Jimmy Carter took the state. Still, South Carolinians have contributed $238,291 to Obama's re-election campaign.
However, the Obama campaign only has spent $2,385 in the Palmetto State, according to the campaign's latest financial reports. But those reports are from September, before the campaign opened its offices or hired staff.
"Just because we don't have a primary doesn't mean that we aren't working," said spokeswoman Shria Kramer, who runs a blog on Obama's S.C. website, as well as its Twitter and Facebook accounts. "Part of that tack is just using (voters') focus on the primaries and the election in general to recognize that we're here."
Kramer would not say how many paid employees the Obama campaign has in South Carolina. Earlier this month, about 16 women gathered at the Columbia office, which doubles as the headquarters for the S.C. Democratic Party, for a Women for Obama "Dials and Desserts" phone bank.
During the introduction, the women, most of whom have never volunteered for a political campaign before, introduced themselves and said why they were "fired up" - a nod to Obama's famous 2008 campaign catchphrase coined by Greenwood City Councilwoman Edith Childs. The responses ranged from the extreme - "because the Tea Party wants to take us back to slavery" - to the tame - "I'm a single mother, and I need some help."
Some of the women were there because Maryann Wright invited them. The 58-year-old retired teacher has S.C. roots but spent most of her adult life in other states, most recently New Jersey. She and her husband, who retired from the Navy, moved to Columbia last year.
As a neighborhood team leader, Wright said she has organized about 25 volunteers in Northeast Richland, where she lives. And she says South Carolina is more Democratic than you would think.
"A lot of it has to do with an influx of people coming back, like my husband and I," she said. "That's going to cause major changes here in the state."
Democrats are gaining ground in presidential elections.
Obama took 44 percent of the state's vote in 2008, the highest percentage won by a Democrat since 1980, when Carter was running for re-election. And South Carolina's population did grow by 15 percent during the past decade, according to Census numbers.
But the 2012 election is drastically different than 2008, something Obama's S.C. adviser Wade readily admits, citing "the challenges that we are facing as a nation in terms of our economic challenges."
Still, Wade said Obama has made the South a priority for 2012, citing the selection of Charlotte as the host city for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and, Wade adds, South Carolina fits into that strategy.
"We're going to work hard and get (S.C. voters) engaged, and then we'll see what happens," he said. "We think President Obama has a record that will resonate with them."