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Obama blitzing Florida, McCain defends Missouri

Obama blitzing Florida, McCain defends Missouri

Democrat Barack Obama opened a campaign blitz in battleground Florida on Monday, buoyed by the endorsement of former Secretary of State Colin Powell while Republican John McCain was defending his turf in bellwether Missouri.
Obama notched the endorsement of Powell, a retired general who was chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff and served as secretary of state to President George W. Bush, while Obama's campaign reported raking in a record-shattering $150 million in campaign donations last month. The backing of Powell, a moderate Republican, was viewed as a blow to McCain's attempts to paint Obama as unready to serve as commander in chief of the U.S. military.
Obama told NBC television Monday that Powell was welcome to campaign for him and might have a place in his administration. He said Powell "will have a role as one of my advisers" and that a formal role in his government was "something we'd have to discuss."
While Obama said he would welcome Powell on the campaign trail, Powell said he had no plans for that.
"I won't lie to you, I would love to have him at any stop," Obama said with a grin Monday. "Obviously, if he wants to show up he's got an open invitation."
Speaking to a weekday crowd of 2,000 in this suburb north of St. Louis, McCain and his supporters branded Obama a liberal and criticized feminists and the media as they rallied their conservative base in hotly contested Missouri. Obama drew 100,000 in St. Louis on Saturday.
In a stump speech sharpened for the second week in a row, the Republican presidential candidate defended his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, against attacks from the "feminist left." And Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, introduced McCain by declaring him under siege by the "liberal elite media."
"John's been there and he's met a little tougher people in his life than the liberal media," Graham said, alluding to McCain's years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Obama's distinct financial advantage and heavy advertising nationwide are believed to have aided him in putting traditionally Republican states in play this year, forcing McCain on the defensive in the final two weeks of the campaign in places like Missouri.
McCain reported on Monday that his campaign spent $37 million in September, leaving $47 million available for October. McCain is no longer raising funds because he is participating in the presidential election public financing system. That restricts his spending to $84 million between early September and Election Day Nov. 4. Obama is not accepting public money and is therefore free to raise _ and spend _ as much as he wants.
Voters are consumed with anxieties over chaos in the financial system that has wiped out billions in retirement savings, sent home mortgage foreclosures to near record levels and produced an economic nosedive that many fear could mean a deep and prolonged recession. The economic turmoil has played to Obama's favor, as McCain has turned in what has been perceived as an unsteady performance on economic issues.
A Suffolk University poll of 600 likely voters in Ohio, an important battleground state, showed Obama leading McCain by 9 percentage points, 51-42. The survey, released on Monday, had a margin of error of 4 percentage points. In Missouri, which is also in play, the organization showed the candidates about even, McCain 45 percent, Obama 44 percent with the same margin of error. The latest CNN-Opinion Research Corp. national survey of 746 likely voters showed Obama's lead narrowing to 6 points, 49-43. The previous poll by the organizations gave the Illinois senator an 11-point margin.
The Gallup Poll daily tracking survey on Sunday showed Obama leading McCain nationally by 10 percentage points, 52-42, an uptick after declining to as little as six points last week.
Obama was pouring heavy resources into Florida this week, planning appearances there with his wife, Michelle, as well as primary campaign opponents Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. The state, where most polls show Obama with a narrow lead, was key to President George W. Bush's disputed 2000 victory over former Vice President Al Gore.
The McCain campaign, while continuing character attacks on Obama for his association with a Vietnam war-era radical, now is focusing on Obama's tax plan.
"I think his plans are for redistribution of wealth. That's one of the tenets of socialism," McCain told Fox News on Sunday, claiming it was a historic position of liberal Democrats and that small businesses would be forced to cut jobs while Obama would raise their taxes.
Only a small percentage of American small businesses generate incomes above $250,000, and most owners of such enterprises would not be affected under Obama's tax proposal.
In endorsing Obama, Powell said such claims were "an unfortunate characterization that isn't accurate" and part of an overly negative campaign by "my beloved friend and colleague John McCain, a friend of 25 years."
"I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain," Powell said Sunday on NBC.
In addition to criticizing what he said was an overly negative McCain campaign, Powell said the 72-year-old senate veteran's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, was not presidential timber.
"I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president," Powell said.
McCain was being interviewed on Fox News as Powell endorsed Obama. He reacted by reminding viewers he had the backing of four former secretaries of state and scores of current and former military leaders. "We have a respectful disagreement," he said of Powell.
In an interview Sunday with New York's WWOR-TV, Palin responded to Powell's criticism: "I beg to differ with him. Not only will my executive experience be put to very good use ... but also, you know, the vision that I share with John McCain."
The presidential contest is not decided by the nationwide popular vote, but is instead a state-by-state contest to win electors who are apportioned according to state population. An Associated Press analysis shows Obama with the advantage in states representing 264 electoral votes _ just shy of the 270 needed for victory. McCain is favored in states representing 185 votes, with six states totaling 80 electoral votes up in the air.


Updated : 2021-10-22 02:13 GMT+08:00