Obama, McCain intensify campaign, target key states

Nov 30, -0001
Democrat Barack Obama pushed deep into Republican turf on Friday
(October 17) and forced rival John McCain to play defense on traditionally
friendly ground as the U.S. presidential race headed into a frenzied final two
weeks.
Obama launched a four-day tour of Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina
and Florida, all states won in 2004 by President George W. Bush that could be
on the verge of tipping to the Democrats.
Victories there -- or in any one of a long list of other states won by
Bush including Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Indiana or West Virginia -- would
likely give Obama the 270 electoral votes he needs to capture the White House
in the November 4 election.
Obama's surge in opinion polls as the economic crisis intensified has
left Republican McCain hoping to cobble together wins in the same coalition of
states that gave Bush a narrow victory in 2004.
Speaking at a rally in Virginia on Friday (October 17), Obama said that
it was time for change in America and the Democrats "can't do any
worse" than the Republicans over the past eight years.
The 47-year-old senator was trying to woo voters in Virginia, which is
a key battleground state where he has developed a lead of more than eight
points in the polls. Virginia is considered to be a Republican stronghold
which has not voted for a Democratic president since 1964.
"I know I'm not running against President Bush," he said.
"I don't blame Senator McCain for all of President Bush's mistakes. After
all, he's only voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Ninety
percent."
McCain's dilemma is evident in his travel schedule.
Aside from a stop on Thursday in Pennsylvania, won by Democrat John
Kerry in 2004 but where he trails now by double-digits, he is concentrating on
defending states won by Bush in 2004.
McCain was in Florida Friday (October 17) and then heads to North
Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Missouri over the next four days, all
Republican-held states in 2004 where Obama threatens a key breakthrough.
McCain aides said there are more than enough states up for grabs for
the Arizona senator to hit 270 electoral votes, and they are looking for every
possible angle to hit the magic number.
The 72-year-old Arizona senator criticized Obama for saying he wanted
to "spread the wealth around" and added: "That's not a tax cut,
that's welfare.
Speaking at a rally in Miami, McCain said: "We have 18 days to go.
We're six points down. The national media has written us off."
To a chorus of boos, he went on: "But you know what, they forgot
to let you decide. My friends, as it has been in other races, we've got them
just where we want them.
Some recent tracking polls have shown a slight improvement in McCain's
standing nationally in the last few days.
The latest Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll gives Obama a 5-point edge, and a
Gallup poll on Thursday put the margin at only two points in one sample.
Another tracking poll sponsored by the political news site Hotline,
however, showed Obama expanding his national margin on Friday to 10 percentage
points.

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