With the end finally in sight, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama are taking nothing for granted. In fact, each man plans to fight it out until there’s nothing left they can do. After they vote in the morning, they won’t be spending the waning hours reflecting on the race and what their futures hold. Instead, each will be back out on the campaign trail, targeting key battleground states.
Obama will be in Indiana today speaking with voters before heading back to Chicago for his election night event. McCain plans to participate in a road to victory rally in Grand Junction, Colorado, before returning to Arizona.
McCain and his surrogates are making multiple stops in the battlegrounds. The campaign has also ramped up its advertising spending in the past few days, to keep up the pace on the airwaves set by Obama during the final stretch. And, it’s getting a little help from friends like the Pennsylvania Republican Party and other independent groups that have begun airing television advertisements about Obama’s relationship with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright in key markets, although McCain purportedly disapproves of such tanntactics. They won’t help at this point anyway, says Cato Institute senior fellow Michael Tanner, who adds that McCain’s biggest concern has got to be getting his base out to vote on Election Day.
When the first polls close on Tuesday night, he’ll be watching Virginia and Pennsylvania very closely. “They’ll tell you the whole story. If McCain loses both, it’s over. If he wins either one of those, it tells us something very interesting,” Tanner says. “If McCain wins Pennsylvania and loses Virginia, then he’ll probably win Ohio as well and you can then come up with a conceivable path for victory for him at that point. If Obama wins Pennsylvania but loses Virginia, then maybe it means he’s not going to make inroads into those [Republican] red states after all.”
McCain, who’s mantra this week has been “Mac is back!” to remind voters that he’s in fighting form and still in it to win it, plans to participate in seven campaign events on Election Day.
“We feel pretty optimistic. There have been a record number of voter contacts, lots of volunteers, our crowds are big, and we’re getting good feedback,” says Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Donatelli. “It’s been a long campaign and we think we’ll finish very strong. Everybody is working up to the last minute.”
On Monday, Obama held rallies in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, three states won by President George W. Bush in 2004, that everyone will be watching for shades of Democrat blue. Running mate Sen. Joe Biden visited Ohio, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, the latter of which McCain wants desperately to win.
That’s true, but Tanner thinks there’s a little more to it. “He doesn’t want to let his guard down or count his chickens too early. But I think he doesn’t want a 51-49 win; he