PALO ALTO — Hoping to harness the outpouring of enthusiasm displayed by Googlers, Stanford students and Silicon Valley executives for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, his campaign announced Friday he will open a field office in Palo Alto today .

An official statement released Friday, 25 days before the state's primary election, says, "Riding a wave of momentum after winning the Iowa caucus Jan. 3 and receiving endorsements from former presidential candidates Sens. John Kerry and Bill Bradley, Obama for America will open California's fifth office in Palo Alto."

The field office for Obama,

D-Ill, at 3892 El Camino Real will join headquarters already established in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and Sacramento.

"His message has reallyresonated with the Silicon Valley community," said Obama's Northern California spokeswoman Erin Callahan. The senator's visit to Google in November elicited a "tremendous response," she noted.

In addition, the campaign has connected with students and faculty at Stanford University as well as many members of the Silicon Valley business community, Callahan said.

"The campaign recognized the groundswell of support in the Palo Alto and Silicon Valley area," said Obama's Congressional District 14 data manager, Matt Bundick.

The Obama campaign already sends out e-mails to more than 500 supporters in the area, Bundick said.

"That's growing exponentially right now," he added.


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Between L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and Pacific Breeze Laundromat, the new Obama office also is steps away from Happy Donuts, Palo Alto's only 24-hour restaurant.

But Bundick said the location was more likely chosen for its convenient proximity to clusters of local supporters.

The Santa Clara County Democratic Party made its headquarters in the same strip mall during the 2004 race between President George W. Bush and U.S. Sen. John Kerry, according to the Silicon Valley for Kerry/Edwards Web site.

But though Bush prevailed, Callahan pointed out that Kerry won California's electoral votes in the 2004 general election and endorsed Obama this past week.

"It's a good sign," she said.

In its new incarnation, the office will be a gathering place for Obama supporters to run phone banks and train volunteers, Bundick said.

Local students also will take advantage of the new office to organize school events, said Molly Kawahata, a senior at Gunn High School and one of two national high school coordinators of Students for Barack Obama.

She said the office's location will help harvest the "political charge in the Palo Alto area.

"I think it makes getting involved in the campaign really accessible," Kawahata said.

Guest speakers slated to talk at today's 1 p.m. opening include former state Controller Steve Westly, also co-chairman of Obama's California campaign; Julie Lythcott-Haims, dean of freshmen and transfer students at Stanford University; and Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, also a policy adviser to Obama.

Obama is scheduled to return to the Bay Area Thursday, though Callahan said his specific schedule remains to be determined.

For further information, visit http://www.ca14forobama.com.

E-mail Kristina Peterson at kpeterson@dailynewsgroup.com.