Presidential Candidates Plan Weekend Blitz

Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:42am

The presidential campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Friday offered sharply different visions of the state of the race, with Obama campaign manager David Plouffe expressing confidence in the Democrat’s position and McCain officials declaring a comeback is under way.

McCain aides asserted that polls are tightening nationally and in key battleground states. “We’re pretty jazzed up about what we’re seeing,” campaign manager Rick Davis said in a conference call that he and other McCain officials held with reporters. “We are witnessing probably one of the greatest comebacks you’ve seen since John McCain won the primaries.”

Davis said McCain has enough funds on hand to possibly run more television advertising than Obama in the last days of the campaign, which the campaign has not been able to do previously. He dismissed a half-hour prime-time television infomercial run by Obama this week, saying it was viewed mainly by Obama supporters.

In his own conference call, Plouffe portrayed Obama’s campaign as on the offensive, putting up new ads deep in red-state territory and needling McCain by running advertising locally in Arizona for the first time.

“We like where we are,” Plouffe said.

Plouffe said that in addition to Arizona, new ads will go up in Georgia and North Dakota, GOP strongholds that would signal a landslide for Obama if McCain loses them. But polls have shown McCain ahead in all three states, and Plouffe acknowledged that Obama will not actually travel to the states. Obama is campaigning today in Iowa and Indiana and will travel “out West” this weekend, Plouffe said. Plouffe did not say where, but the two most hotly contested states in the West are Colorado and Nevada.

Plouffe expressed satisfaction with early voting trends, pointing particularly to Florida, where he said Obama’s early voting tally was well ahead of that of the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.). According to Gallup, about a fifth of voters have cast early ballots and a third will do so before Election Day. Plouffe predicted Obama will do “much better with Hispanic voters” in Florida than Kerry did.

McCain officials argued that early voter trends are similar to past elections that Republicans have won. And McCain pollster Bill McInturff said polls showing Obama with a large leads were assuming too many Democratic voters as part of their sample.

Plouffe said the campaign is in “very strong shape” in states that voted for Kerry and is in a good position in several states taken by President Bush in 2004, including Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada and Virginia. He said he sees a “credible path” to victory in Florida and Ohio, two Bush states that McCain must win in order to have a chance of victory. According to the Web site RealClearPolitics.com, 13 of the 14 states that appear to be in play — rated either tossups or as leaning to one side or the other — were won by Bush in 2004.

Davis said McCain’s numbers are moving up in key states like Missouri and Pennsylvania, the latter being a state Kerry took in 2004.

As evidence of Obama’s slipping position, Davis noted that the Democrat is campaigning today in Iowa, a state that many have previously put in Obama’s column. But Davis indicated that McCain will appear before Election Day in Indiana, a red state that Republicans were not expected to have to work too hard to keep.

McCain is campaigning in Ohio today. He plans to close out the campaign Sunday night with a “nostalgia” appearance in New Hampshire — a state where his campaign has been saved twice during the GOP primaries. Davis said McCain could win the state despite some polls that have shown Obama well ahead. McCain will make seven appearance in seven states Monday. The locations are still being finalized.