Sun, Nov 02, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Obama readies for last McCain attacks

FINAL DAYS John McCain has won come-from-behind political contests before, but his campaign has been plagued by bickering and divisions in the party’s ranks

AP , WASHINGTON

Democratic Senator Barack Obama held onto his solid lead in the polls and appeared confident of capturing the US presidency in the historic race, but steeled his supporters for a crescendo of vicious attacks in the final hours of the campaign.

With just four days to go after a marathon contest, the Obama campaign went on the offensive in several solidly Republican states on Friday. Democrats announced they would air television ads in Georgia, North Dakota and even Arizona, which Republican Senator John McCain has represented in the US Senate for 22 years.

“We are four days away from changing the United States of America,” Obama told voters on Friday night in Indiana, one of about a half-dozen Republican states remain up for grabs late this election season.

The underdog McCain, meanwhile, spent a second day touring Ohio in his “Straight Talk Express” bus, and appeared with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a fellow Republican, in a last-ditch effort to win a state critical to his hopes for victory.

No Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio, but McCain trails in the polls there by a wide margin.

“We’re closing, my friends, and we’re going to win in Ohio,” McCain said during a stop in the state Friday. “We’re a few points down but we’re coming back and we’re coming back strong.”

McCain’s campaign argued that he was closing the gap in the final days and that he was closer than reflected than in public polling.

Privately, McCain’s aides said he trailed Obama by 4 points nationwide in internal polling.

An Associated Press-Yahoo News poll of likely voters put the Democrat well ahead nationwide, 51 to 43, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The same survey gave McCain reason to hope — one in seven voters, 14 percent of the total — said they were undecided or might yet change their minds.

But McCain may be running out of time to turn the tide.

Obama, who is seeking to become the first black US president, has tapped public concern about two long-running US wars abroad and a faltering economy at home.

He has also raised hundreds of millions of dollars more than McCain for his campaign.

McCain and his supporters have fought back by accusing Obama of associating with radicals, advocating surrender in Iraq and supporting socialist economic policies.

“Senator Obama’s economic policy is from the far left of American politics and ours is in the center,” McCain said on Friday on ABC’s Good Morning America television program.

In Iowa, Obama accused the Republicans of practicing “slash and burn, say-anything, do-anything politics that’s calculated to divide and distract; to tear us apart instead of bringing us together.”

He said he admired a presidential candidate who said in 2000: “I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land.”

“Those words were spoken eight years ago by my opponent, John McCain,” Obama said. “But the high road didn’t lead him to the White House then, so this time, he decided to take a different route.”

Despite this, Obama later told CNN that, if he is elected, he would consider appointing McCain to “any position ... where I thought he was going to be the best person for our country.”

As part of McCain’s effort to capture Ohio, McCain hosted Schwarzenegger — the former bodybuilder and actor who played the lead in the Terminator series of Hollywood blockbusters — at a rally in the city of Columbus Friday afternoon, where he offered to help the lanky Obama beef up his “skinny legs” and “scrawny little arms.”

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