Sen. Obama has returned to the campaign trail after taking a couple days to reportedly visit his ailing Grandmother in Hawaii. The next stop for both campaigns this weekend is the Western swing states such as Nevada and Colorado. Both campaigns need to pick off a few western states on their way to the magic 270 electoral vote number.
Report from Fox News:
Barack Obama and John McCain headed out West on the next-to-last weekend of their presidential race, seeking victories in the battleground states of Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, which could determine the winner on Election Day just over a week away.
But not all Western states are getting equal attention. The candidates have spent little time, for example, in California, Arizona, or Oregon despite the combined 72 electoral votes in play in those states.
And without campaign stops there, local voters have been left without the opportunity to talk with the candidates about key issues in their states, such as immigration in California and Arizona and the environment in Oregon.
Polls undoubtedly are a factor in the candidates’ absence.
According to Real Clear Politics polling, Obama has comfortable leads in California (by 21 percentage points) and in Oregon (by 14.7 points). McCain is well ahead in his home state of Arizona by 11.3 points.
Even so, McCain has been campaigning in Pennsylvania, where he trails by 11 percentage points in some polls.
As for Obama, his campaign pointed to his broad travels during the primaries.
“Senator Obama campaigned in 48 states, which is frankly unprecedented for a presidential campaign,” Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said.”He has held rallies and town hall meetings in nearly every state in the country. It’s one of the benefits of having a contentious primary.”
Vietor added McCain has been forced by Obama in the general election to defend Republican turf in states such as Missouri, Virginia and North Carolina.
“That’s a good thing for democracy and a good thing for the electorate and a good thing for the candidates,” he said.
Obama was resuming his campaign in Nevada on Saturday with rallies in Reno and Las Vegas before holding one at night in Albuquerque, N.M. The Democrat put aside political events on Thursday night and Friday to spend time with his grandmother in Hawaii, whom he described as gravely ill.
McCain, pivoting from his three stops in Colorado on Friday, also will be pushing hard in New Mexico on Saturday. He is holding rallies in Albuquerque and in Mesilla, farther south.
The California Republican Party is also helping McCain, but, like the candidate’s travels, much of the state party’s efforts are aimed outside the state. It is sending $2 million to Colorado and $1 million to Nevada to help get-out-the-vote efforts there.
“The California Republican party’s aggressive fundraising and campaign programs continue to have a major national role in this critical election,” the state GOP said in a written statement.
“Since February 2007, the CRP has raised over $36 million for the programs that are working to benefit all of our candidates, from John McCain and Sarah Palin to our congressional, legislative and local candidates.”
The state GOP party is also sending busloads of volunteers to Nevada for the final weekend push.
Certainly McCain cannot match Obama’s travel schedule, perhaps even due to the money game which is now giving Obama much more flexibility on where to campaign and where to blanket the media with ads.
McCain is relying much more on surrogates like Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Tom Ridge, and even Todd Palin, dropping them in swing states around the country to hold rallies and spread the campaign’s message.
Obama’s biggest surrogates may be Bill and Hillary Clinton, who I’m betting will spent some more time in Pennsylvania with the hopes of ensuring it does not slip into the red column this year as McCain is hitting it hard.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall during strategy meetings of each campaign about where they believe they need to hit the hardest.
Video of Obama returning to the trail:
Video of McCain employing the “Spread the Wealth” criticism of Obama which has now become a staple: