David Plouffe (left) and David Axelrod.
DENVER—Top aides to Sen. Barack Obama said today that they have seen significant gains in voter support in key battleground states, but add that the election will still be close. "This is a close election. There's not a whole lot of play," says chief campaign strategist David Axelrod. "We have no illusions that this is going to be anything but close." Campaign Manager David Plouffe says, however, that the results will be better than in 2004 when President George Bush won because the campaign has registered more voters, has more voter enthusiasm and is facing a candidate in Sen. John McCain that isn't exciting the GOP base. "Enthusiasm matters," Axelrod says. Plouffe says that in 2004, the Bush team "maxed out" on getting supporters to the polls but that the Democrats have a lot of room for improvement. What's more, he says that in typically Republican states like Virginia, North Carolina, Montana, and Indiana, Obama is signing up thousands of voters. "We've added to our base," says Plouffe. He also says that Obama has done more to woo Hispanics in key Western states like New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado, all areas McCain is focused on. On other issues, the duo told a breakfast meeting that Ralph Nader will be an "obstacle" in the election; that the Clintons will campaign for Obama in the fall; that national polls don't matter as much as those in the 18 individual battleground states; and that while Obama won't rap McCain's age, he will hit "the age of his ideas" and his "backward looking."