Candidates Aim for Wins in American West

October 26, 2008 at 5:27 am Leave a comment

mccain-obama10.jpgScrambling to win the West, Democrat Barack Obama mocked John McCain on
Saturday for aggressively trying to distance himself from President
Bush. McCain touted his Western ties and warned that Obama is a
tax-and-spend threat to the nation.

The financially flush Obama campaign also
unveiled a two-minute TV ad that asks, “Will our country be better off
four years from now?” The length of the ad, which will air in key
states, highlights Obama’s fundraising superiority — most campaign
commercials run 30 seconds or a minute.

Obama continued to ridicule McCain for distancing himself from the president.

“John McCain attacking George Bush for his
out-of-hand economic policy is like Dick Cheney attacking George Bush
for his go-it-alone foreign policy,” Obama said. Later in the day,
Obama put McCain’s criticism of Bush this way: “It’s like Robin getting
mad at Batman.”

Ten days before the election, both candidates
were targeting the same trio of states — Nevada, Colorado and New
Mexico. Any of them could help shape who wins the presidency.

The flurry of appearances by Obama and McCain
likely represent the last time in a long, testy campaign that the
toss-up territory of the West will get this much attention. Electoral
prizes like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, will soon take the
spotlight.

Obama said it was too late for McCain to portray
himself as independent from Bush after standing with him for years.
McCain has a mixed record of supporting and bucking Bush.

Real change, Obama said, is “not somebody who’s
trying to break with his president over the last 10 days after having
supporting him for the last eight years.”

As the front-running Obama campaigned at a
baseball stadium, McCain was at an outdoor rally at the New Mexico
state fairgrounds in Albuquerque. The Arizona Republican claimed he had
the edge in battleground states in the region, calling himself “a
fellow Westerner.”

“Sen. Obama has never been south of the border,”
said McCain, arguing that he has a feel for issues like water that
resonate throughout the region. Obama’s campaign said Obama has, in
fact, been to Mexico before he got into public office.

Later, in Mesilla, N.M., McCain said he had a home-court advantage in the West.

“I know the issues, I know land, I know water, I
know native American issues,” said McCain, speaking at a sun-splashed
rally. “I know how western states are growing with dynamic strength.
Senator Obama does not understand these issues.”

McCain continued to portray Obama, an Illinois
senator, as a tax-and-spend liberal certain to push for more government
and higher spending.

“He believes in redistributing wealth,” McCain said. “That’s not America.”

His running mate, Sarah Palin, evoked the same theme Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa.

While she spoke, the crowd at her rally cried out about Obama: “He’s a socialist.”

Obama, meanwhile, continued to use his massive fundraising appeal to his advantage.

The new Obama ad is scheduled to begin running
Sunday. While not mentioning McCain, it promotes Obama’s economic
policies while saying the Democrat will work to end “mindless
partisanship” and “divisiveness.”

The Republican National Committee released its
own TV ad Saturday questioning whether Obama has the experience to be
president. The ad, featuring the image of a stormy ocean, says the
nation is in “uncertain times” that could get worse and asks whether
voters want a president “who’s untested at the helm.”

In competitive Virginia, Democratic vice
presidential candidate Joe Biden said Americans have been “knocked
down” by Bush’s economic policies. “It’s time for us to get back up,”
he said. “It’s time for us together to get back up and demand the
change we need.”

The West, once reliable Republican territory,
has seen its politics and demographics shift over the last decade. Bush
narrowly won Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico four years ago and
Democrats see those states and their 19 electoral votes as a real
opportunity.

There was a glitch for Obama in Reno. A
generator at his rally apparently failed, killing power and cutting off
his microphone. Obama said someone from the McCain campaign may have
pulled the plug on the rally. He quickly added he was kidding.

Later, at a rally at a high school football
field in Las Vegas, Obama said: “We’re not going to let George Bush
pass the torch to John McCain.”

And at a rowdy night rally in Albuquerque — the
same city where McCain had spoken earlier — Obama told supporters not
to let up. Democrat Al Gore won the state by just 366 votes in 2000.

“I know seeing this crowd here tonight, that we will not let up,” Obama said to cheers.

Obama resumed his campaign in Nevada after
spending Thursday night and Friday in Hawaii with his grandmother, who
is gravely ill. He offered thanks to those who wished her well.

Despite sour polls, McCain pledged a scrappy close to the campaign.

“We’re a few points down and the pundits, of
course, as they have four or five times, have written us off,” said
McCain. “We’ve got them just where we want them.”

McCain was headed briefly to El Paso, before
moving on to Iowa where he’s looking to make up for some lost ground in
a state campaign aides argue is closer than the public polling shows.
McCain was to appear on “Meet the Press” and hold a campaign rally.

Obama is campaigning on Sunday in Colorado.

Source: USA Today

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