McCain fighting for New Hampshire, Pennsylvania

It was often said during the primary season that John McCain was the “President” of New Hampshire since he won the primary there in 2000 and again in 2008, against tough odds. New Hampshire is a more libertarian-leaning state and McCain’s brand of moderate Republicanism has done well there in the past. However, this is 2008 and a lot has changed.

Report on New Hampshire from Yahoo News:

CONCORD, N.H. – Marge Bonneville voted for John McCain in the 2000 New Hampshire primary and wrote him in on her general election ballot after he lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush. She did the same four years later, when McCain wasn’t even running.

For a while after Democrat Barack Obama won her over last year, the retired postmaster still thought she could live with having McCain as president. Not anymore.

“I look at McCain now and say, ‘How can anyone want him as our president?'” said Bonneville, 58, a lifelong Republican from Tilton. This year, she’s changed her registration to undeclared and is volunteering for Obama’s campaign in New Hampshire.

But McCain still has his supporters in a state where voters arguably know him as well if not better than his constituents back home in Arizona.

Andy Collins, a carpenter from Walpole, was torn between McCain and Obama just before the primary but voted for the Republican and will do so again in November. He called Obama a gifted speaker, but said with the nation at war and a son headed to Afghanistan, he wants McCain in the White House.

“Obama talks a good game and he gets people to vote for him, but I’m really worried on the world stage if he becomes president,” said Collins, an independent.

“The guy is a hero,” Collins said of McCain. “He has a lot character. He’s a hot head, but so what? Sometimes you have to be like that to get what you want.”

New Hampshire voters twice have launched McCain toward the GOP nomination. He trounced Bush in the state’s 2000 primary and pulled off a stunning comeback win last January. But now McCain is trailing Obama in the polls here, and both candidates are in hot pursuit of the state’s four electoral votes. McCain on Wednesday makes his fifth visit to the state since locking up the nomination.

Political consultant Dean Spiliotes says McCain’s strong ties to the state are based on mutual recognition of the importance of retail politics. McCain’s biography-heavy campaign works well in a small state where a candidate can meet a lot of voters face-to-face, he said.

And, he adds, “In an era where social conservatives have been driving the Republican Party, McCain has had sort of a refreshing quality to him that fits with the more libertarian leanings of the state.”

At the same time, McCain is spending heavy amounts of time and resouces in the swing state of Pennsylvania. Having voted blue in 2000 and 2004, it has a track record which McCain is hoping to reverse.

Story on Pennsylvania from Fox News:

John McCain is neck-and-neck with Barack Obama in Republican strongholds Missouri and North Carolina and is slightly trailing in Virginia, according to most opinion polls.

Without victories in these three states, it will be virtually impossible for McCain to win the White House. So why is McCain staging three rallies Tuesday in Pennsylvania, a reliable blue state where he trails Obama by 11 points in some polls?

“I think Hillary must be planning to endorse him soon,” GOP strategist Paul Wilson joked. Turning serious, Wilson said it appears the McCain camp is worried about the electoral map and is looking for extra votes.

“It’s a necessary political move,” Wilson told FOXNews.com. “It’s a knife fight. One guy has to die. To win, you have to kill one of their states. It may not look smart or good but there’s no tomorrow.”

GOP strategist Dylan Glenn told FOX News that he believes McCain can win Pennsylvania.

“I think that John McCain has a message that will resonate in all parts of Pennsylvania, not just Western Pennsylvania, where there’s certainly cultural reasons why voters will be more inclined to be supportive of John McCain,” he said. “Absolutely he has an opportunity in Pennsylvania and I think they’re going to commit the resources to make that a positive for them.”

Pennsylvania is worth 21 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. After spending Tuesday there, McCain is heading Wednesday to New Hampshire, a formerly reliable GOP state which Obama has made competitive this year. Though it has only four of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, New Hampshire could swing the election under some voting models which predict a very close Electoral College split.

“What the schedule and the ad spending tells you is that strategic aim of the campaign,” Wilson said. “It’s not dumb. It’s well thought-out. Will it work? I don’t know.”

McCain campaign spokesman Ben Porritt said he believes it will work.

“When you look at Pennsylvania, there were a lot of folks in the media who said Barack Obama would clean up there in the primaries and he didn’t,” he told FOXNews.com. “His political values don’t suit a vast majority of Pennsylvanians. His welfare economic plan, his position on gun rights and right to life issues don’t mobilize people there.”

Porritt said the campaign’s internal polling shows different numbers from other opinion polls.

“We still feel that as this race comes to the finish line, al the polls are going to tighten,” he said. “We feel we have a strong chance of winning Pennsylvania.”

McCain will have to win Pennsylvania if Obama wins in Virginia, North Carolina or Missouri. Some reports suggest that the McCain campaign is internally writing off Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico. Porritt flatly rejected the reports.

The state-level dynamics are absolutely fascinating this year since Obama and McCain are fighting over theee swing states and the polls indicate there may be some changes come November 4th.