Reuters: In crucial Ohio, conservatives are an unruly force for Romney

(Reuters) – When Ohio voter Paul Presta opened his door to two election canvassers one recent Saturday he interrupted them in mid-sentence and asked Jim Lewis about an issue close to his heart.

“Do you support the second amendment?” he asked, referring to the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms, and pointed at Lewis.

Lewis grinned and lifted up his shirt slightly to give a glimpse of a Glock 9mm pistol tucked into his belt, for which he has a concealed carry permit.

Presta, 72, a semi-retired businessman, instantly relaxed, cheerfully telling them he had already voted for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Lewis and his fellow activist Ann Becker are a new breed of canvassers going door to door along a sloping street full of modest and mostly well-kept homes in this declining steel town in Butler County. This is the first presidential election since the founding of the Tea Party movement which aims to reduce the size of U.S. government.

The two activists are not beholden to any campaign – some would say they are a rogue force – nor do they mention Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney by name.

While they differ with former Massachusetts governor Romney on many policies and suspect his conservative credentials, they are working independently to help him win over undecided voters in swing states such as Ohio.

Fiercely opposed to the reelection of Democratic President Barack Obama, conservatives are trying to employ technology they used successfully earlier this year in a recall vote in Wisconsin to help Romney overcome Obama’s narrow Ohio lead in the polls.

Conservative group American Majority Action trains volunteers such as Lewis and Becker to target “low-propensity” voters, or people who are not very interested in politics. They use Gravity, a mobile get-out-the-vote app that aims to filter out regular Republican voters and those who have already voted.

Read more on Reuters.com.