McCain grasps for critical red states with 8 days to go

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Where to go with just eight days left?

If this were a monopoly game, you'd head toward the properties that are still up for grabs.

Boardwalk, Park Place

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The big properties are already gone. California with its 55 electoral votes is like Boardwalk – and it looks solidly in blue territory. Texas with its 34 would be Park Place – and it's dyed-in-the-wool red. New York with 31? It's Pennsylvania Avenue, and it's Obama territory.

Up for grabs

But Florida is like North Carolina Avenue, and it is still up for grabs with 27 electoral votes. So, the Sunshine state will see a lot of the two campaigns.

Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana and Missouri are all targeted as well. The other thing these states have in common? These are all states that President Bush won in 2004. So McCain is playing a lot of defense. The only offense McCain is playing is in Pennsylvania.

How do the candidates stack up so far?

Florida

Joe Biden is all over the Sunshine state. Floridians will see him for a solid three days. Biden has proven to be non-partisan in this year's contest, attacking John McCain and Barack Obama equally.

No word if he will continue to warn voters of international crises if he and Obama are elected to the Oval Office. Perhaps he will pivot and begin attacking his running mate for ties to Tony Rezko.

If Barack Obama had a big crowd in Denver yesterday, then who knows how the big the crowd will be in Orlando on Wednesday. Obama will be joined by President Bill Clinton. Obama and Hillary Clinton attracted 50,000 people last week.

According to CNN's Poll of Polls (and there should be a poll to determine how well that poll polls), Obama has a three-point edge in Florida.

Sarah Palin was there Sunday, and in front of a raucous crowd warned Obama not to turn out the lights quite yet.

"This thing isn't over yet." Palin said, "Where I come from, you have to win the game before you start cutting down the net."

Ohio

McCain is in Cleveland and Dayton today while Obama is in Canton. The poll of polls shows Obama to have a five point edge in the Buckeye state.

Obama, according to his campaign, will deliver his closing argument for his candidacy today in Canton.

He will, in his prepared remarks, continue to use a tweaked version of Ronald Reagan's old "Are you better off" line.

"The question in this election is not: Are you better off than you were four years ago? We know the answer to that. The real question is: Will this country be better off four years from now?"

We're assuming as it is delivered by Obama and not his running mate, the answer to this question would be favorable to his campaign.

Pennsylvania

The one blue state McCain hopes to grab will see a lot of attention from both campaigns. McCain is in Pottsville today while Obama visits Pittsburgh.

The poll of polls? Obama is up 51 to 41 percent. However, the McCain camp says internal polls show the race much closer.

How will McCain grab Pennsylvania? Although the odds are against the steal, he's pinning hopes on playing to the electorate's distaste for one-party rule which would be likely occur with an Obama win.

"My opponent is out there working out the details with Speaker Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, their plans to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq," said McCain. "We're not going to let that happen."

North Carolina

Biden yo-yos from Florida to North Carolina then back to Florida.  In North Carolina he will visit Greenville and Greensboro.

Last week, the Delaware Senator spent some time in Winston-Salem and used a North Carolina-friendly analogy to discuss the race.

“I know NASCAR is big in North Carolina. And ... to use NASCAR parlance for those of you who are NASCAR fans, we've been trading a little paint with the McCain, with the McCain-Palin ticket lately. And and quite frankly, John's been driving a little loose lately," he said.

The state is considered a toss-up currently which is saying a lot for Obama. Four years ago, President Bush won the state by 12 percentage points.

Virginia

Virginia hasn't voted for the Democratic nominee since 1964. The Old Dominion state leans Obama. A new Washington Post poll shows Obama up by eight points.

Noting that the Obama campaign has a huge organization in Virginia (almost 50 offices and 250 paid staffers), the Post reports the outreach appears to be fruitful.

The poll indicates that Obama's staff and volunteers have made staggering gains in reaching out to Virginia's 5 million registered voters. More than half of all voters surveyed said they have been contacted in person, on the phone or by e-mail or text message about voting for Obama, far more than said so about McCain.

Sarah Palin is all over the state today with visits in Leesburg, Fredericksburg, and Salem.

Indiana

Could Indiana actually go Obama? The McCain camp has a lead in the Hoosier state but it is a state that Obama has targeted.

Palin visited the state on Saturday and is making a return trip on Wednesday with Hank Williams, Jr. (a musician who has not sued their campaign) in Jeffersonville.

Missouri

Six weeks ago it was solidly McCain. Now it is a toss-up, with RealClearPolitics showing Obama with a one-point lead.

Game's not over

John McCain is right. Many pundits and pollsters have written him off.  And Obama's sky-high stack of orange $500 bills doesn't help the McCain campaign.  But, to use a way overused cliche', the only poll that matters is the one done a week from tomorrow.

And the Republican nominee shows no signs of giving up.

"We are doing fine. You're going to be up very late on election night," McCain told NBC's Meet the Press. "This is going to be a very close race and I believe I'm going to win it."

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