Obama on offense in GOP’s red state strongholds

This race will essentially hinge on whether or not Sen. Obama is able to turn less than a handful of traditional red states over to the Democratic side this time around. States such as Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio are the major battlegrounds for the remaining days. In fact, they’re so important that Obama no longer has plans to campaign in states which voted Democrat in 2004.

The report from Yahoo News:

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Exuding confidence, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama intends to spend the overwhelming amount of his time in the campaign’s final two weeks in states that voted Republican in 2004 as he reaches for a decisive victory.

He and his aides appear so confident of his prospects that apart from a brief stop in Madison, Wis., next Thursday, Obama currently has no plans during the next 10 days to return to Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Hampshire or any other state that voted for John Kerry in 2004.

Instead, he intends to spend two days this week in Florida, where early voting begins on Monday, and travel to Virginia, Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico and possibly Nevada and Indiana. Those states hold 97 electoral votes combined, and Bush all in 2004.

Obama also may stop in West Virginia, where his campaign recently bought statewide television advertising in a late attempt to put the state’s five electoral votes into serious contention.

“I don’t want to say he won’t go to a Blue State, but we’re certainly concentrating on expanding the map,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist.

By contrast, McCain generally divides his time between states that usually vote Republican and a dwindling number that do not. He spent the weekend in Virginia and Ohio, both of which Bush carried in 2004.

Obama spent Saturday in Missouri and Sunday in North Carolina, two more states that sided with Bush in 2004, with another 26 electoral votes combined.

Obama’s schedules often are designed to carry him to as many key states as possible for brief stops.

As a result, McCain’s campaign time has been split between defending GOP strongholds and working the weaker Democratic-leaning states, that report also from Yahoo News:

TOLEDO, Ohio – Evoking “Joe the Plumber” near his hometown in this pivotal state, Republican John McCain on Sunday cast himself as the guardian of middle-class workers and small-business owners who fuel the economy.

“If I’m elected president, I won’t raise taxes on small businesses, as Sen. (Barack) Obama proposes, and force them to cut jobs,” McCain said of his Democratic opponent during a rally at the convention center. “I will keep small business taxes where they are, help them keep their costs low and let them spend their earnings to create more jobs, not send to Washington.”

McCain flew to Toledo, near where “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher lives, from the state capital of Columbus amid the GOP’s push for this swing state and its 20 electoral votes.

The Holland, Ohio, plumber was in New York making the media rounds with his family, but McCain has been evoking his spirit after making him the focal point the final presidential debate between McCain and Obama. McCain also mentions Wurzelbacher at his rallies after the plumber was videotaped questioning Obama about whether his tax plan would keep him from buying the two-man plumbing shop where he works.

While some analyses showed Wurzelbacher faring better under Obama’s plan than McCain’s, McCain has lashed out at Obama for saying that while his policies may force some to pay higher taxes, they were designed to “spread the wealth around” by targeting only families making over $250,000 annually.

“Sen. Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of the pie than he is growing the pie,” McCain told a crowd of several thousand.

During an earlier rally at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, McCain drew cheers when he proclaimed that he was campaigning “on behalf of Joe the Plumber and Rose the Teacher and Phil the Bricklayer and Wendy the Waitress.”

McCain has a serious task ahead of him considering Obama has a nearly bottomless war chest, raising an astonishing $150 million in the month of September.

Video report on the money gap from CBS News:

The bottom line here is that Obama has the ability to literally blanket these swing states with 24-hour a day ads on local channels. McCain is also running ads, however, they’re constrained with judging what states to run ads in and determining where they’ll be most effective.