With the presidential race in the home stretch, John McCain continues to hammer at Barack Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal who lacks the experience to be president, while Obama is pivoting back to his original arguments that it's time for a change and that he will bring a new era of reconciliation to Washington, attacking McCain for being too closely aligned with the Republican policies of President Bush.
The fundamental problem facing McCain is that he running out of time. In the final week before the November 4 election, the GOP nominee finds himself defending several key states that fellow Republican George Bush won in 2004 and lagging in the national polls. The latest Reuters/Zogby survey, released Monday, finds that Obama holds a 5-point lead among likely voters nationally. The Democratic nominee leads narrowly in Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, and Nevada. McCain leads in West Virginia and Indiana. They are tied at 47 percent in Florida.
McCain argues that private GOP polls indicate that the race remains close and that many voters still have serious doubts about Obama's fitness for the presidency. McCain predicts that he will score a come-from-behind victory on November 4.
But other signs are promising for Obama. Polls show that voters trust him to fix the troubled economy more than they trust McCain and that the economy is the No. 1 issue. Obama's state-by-state get-out-the-vote operation appears to be first class and more extensive than McCain's. Obama has a huge fundraising advantage and some of his crowds have been enormous. The Illinois senator drew an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 people to a rally in Denver Sunday. McCain's crowds have been much smaller, although his GOP running mate, Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, continues to be a big draw.
Obama aides say his final week of campaigning will take him back to the basics. He will use a closing argument that, "after 21 months and three debates, Senator McCain still has not been able to tell the American people a single major thing he'd do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy," says an Obama spokeswoman.
In remarks prepared for delivery in Canton, Ohio, on Monday, Obama says, "In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope."
McCain will argue during the final days that electing Obama would give the Democrats complete control of Washington, which he says would make the economy worse and lead to across-the-board excess. Most polls indicate that the Democrats will increase their majorities in the House and Senate on Election Day. "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," the Arizona senator says. "We're not going to let that happen."
On NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, McCain noted that he has disagreed with President Bush and his party on a number of important issues, including climate change and federal spending, but he conceded that he and President Bush "share a common philosophy of the Republican Party." This gave Obama another opening to tie them together, which he did during his Denver rally.
Obama and his strategists want as many Democrats and pro-Obama independents to cast ballots as they can get. That's one reason why they aren't trumpeting his lead in the polls as much as they could. They don't want overconfidence to depress their turnout.