Both candidates reassert confidence in final week


POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2008

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama are heading into the final week of the presidential campaign planning to spend nearly all their time in states that President Bush won last time, testimony to the increasingly dire position of McCain and his party as Election Day approaches.

With optimism brimming, Obama will present today what aides described as a final summing-up speech for his campaign in Canton, Ohio, reprising the themes he first presented in February 2007 when he began his campaign. From here on, Obama's aides said, attacks on McCain will be joined by an emphasis on broader and less partisan themes, like the need to unify the country after a difficult election.

McCain has settled on Pennsylvania as the one state that Democrats won in 2004 where he has a decent chance of winning, a view not shared by Obama's advisers.

McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, are planning to spend most of their time in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana, all states that Republicans thought they could bank on.

McCain will stick with the message he has embraced over the last week: presenting Obama as an advocate of big government and raising taxes. His advisers say they will limit the numbers of rallies at which he and Palin appear together, to cover more ground.

While some Republicans said they still had hope that McCain could pull this out, there were signs of growing concern that McCain and the party are heading for a big defeat that could leave the party weakened for years.

His campaign has become embroiled by infighting—with signs of tension between McCain's advisers and Palin's staff—and subject to unusual public criticism from other Republicans for how they have handled this race.

“;Unfortunately, I think John McCain might be added to that long list of Arizonans who ran for president but were never elected,”; McCain's fellow senator from Arizona, Republican Jon Kyl, told the Arizona Daily Star editorial board in an interview published yesterday. Kyl told The Associated Press later yesterday that the Star article “;totally misrepresented”; his position.

“;Any serious Republican has to ask, 'How did we get into this mess?'”; Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, said in an interview. “;It's not where we should be, and it's not where we had to be. This was not bad luck.”;

McCain has found relatively small crowds—compared with those that are turning out for Obama—even as he has campaigned in battleground states.

In Cedar Falls, Iowa, McCain campaigned yesterday before roughly 2,000 people, chiding his Democratic rival: “;He's measuring the drapes. ... I prefer to let voters have their say. What America needs now is someone who will finish the race before starting the victory lap.”;

Later, amid 5,000 people in Zanesville, Ohio, McCain warned of the perils of one-party rule, targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as vigorously as Obama. “;You can imagine Obama, Reid and Pelosi,”; McCain said. “;Tax and spend, tax and spend.”;

By contrast, Obama reveled in his largest U.S. crowd to date in Colorado, with local police estimating that “;well over”; 100,000 people packed Denver's Civic Center Park and stretched even to the distant steps of the state Capitol. The enthusiastic sea of people prompted a “;goodness gracious”; from Obama as he took the stage. Another enormous swarm—an estimated 45,000 to 50,000—greeted him in Fort Collins later on the Colorado State University lawn.

At each stop, Obama portrayed McCain as more of the same, saying, “;For eight years we've seen the Bush-McCain philosophy put our country on the wrong track, and we cannot have another four years that look just like the last eight.”;

The Democrat hit McCain with a fresh ad, to air on national cable stations, that says he has “;no plan to lift our economy up”; and, thus, is tearing down Obama with “;scare tactics and smears.”;

McCain's aides said they remained confident they could win.

“;We feel good that when people hear the message about spreading the wealth versus raising taxes, they respond,”; said Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain adviser. “;It's just a matter of whether, given Obama's saturation paid advertising, we can get the message out there.”;


Palin dismisses pricey wardrobe

TAMPA, Fla. » Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said yesterday the $150,000 in clothes and accessories bought for her by the Republican National Committee do not belong to her, equating the high-priced wardrobe with the stagecraft at campaign rallies.

Dogged for days by the brouhaha over outfits from upscale stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, Palin argued that she and her family live frugally. To emphasize her point last night, she wore jeans at an event in Asheville, N.C.

Yesterday a McCain spokesman said about a third of the clothes were returned because they were the wrong size or for other reasons, and the rest would be donated to charity.


Key Alaska paper endorses Obama

ANCHORAGE, Alaska » The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's largest newspaper, endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama yesterday after declaring Gov. Sarah Palin “;too risky”; to be one step away from the Oval Office.

“;Like picking (Republican presidential candidate John) McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time,”; the Daily News said.

Obama “;brings far more promise to the office,”; the newspaper said. “;In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand.”;


Nader claims speeches record

BOSTON » Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader says he now holds the world record for most campaign speeches in a single day.

Nader, who is on the ballot in 45 states but is polling in single digits, said he delivered at least 255 minutes of speeches in 21 Massachusetts communities on Saturday. Nader said that was enough to get him into the Guinness Book of World Records.

To get in the record books, Guinness officials said Nader needed to give at least 150 minutes of speeches, with each speech lasting at least 10 minutes. And each time, there must be at least 10 people watching who did not come with Nader.

Associated Press