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Slugging It Out in the Swing States
John McCain in Hershey, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster).

Top: John McCain in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP) Bottom: Barack Obama in Canton, Ohio, Oct. 27, 2008.

With just five days to go before Americans cast their ballots for a new president, Barack Obama and John McCain are blitzing potentially pivotal states, shoring up support and trying to win over undecided voters.

If you believe the polls, it’s Obama’s race to lose, and the avenues to victory are narrowing for McCain. But if history is any guide, the race will likely tighten in the coming days, so McCain, the warrior, is not waving a white flag, and Obama is warning against over-confidence.

This hour, On Point: From Pennsylvania to Colorado, Florida to Ohio, it’s the final push in the battleground states.

You can join the conversation. Are you following the polls, tracking the electoral map? What do you see? Do you live in a battleground state? How does the race look to you? Tell us what you’re seeing and hearing.


From Washington, we’re joined by David Wasserman, political analyst for the Cook Political Report. See the Cook Report’s current outlook on the presidential race.

Joining us from Northern Ohio is Joe Hallet, senior editor and political writer for the Columbus Dispatch. He’s traveling with John McCain and we’re catching up with him on the press bus.

Joining us from Denver, Colorado, is Karen Crummy, political reporter for The Denver Post.

From Miami, Florida, we’re joined by Beth Reinhard, political reporter for The Miami Herald.

And from Pennsylvania, we’re joined by John Micek. He’s covering the presidential race for the Allentown Morning Call.

More links:

See the latest polls and analysis at RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight.com.

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  • Eugene

    I do not know about anyone else, I have never seen a better managed campaign than the one being put together by Obama and his team.

  • Jane M

    I agree; I believe that Obama is even more brilliant than he is being given credit for. I watched his 1/2 hour video last night and had tears streaming down my face. Why? Is it really possible we can elect such an inspiring man? A man who will inspire us to do and live better?

  • PW

    I agree with both Eegene and Jane. We’re all continuing to keep the campaign going with our commentary and analysis, but the country really seems to have decided by now. Maybe it was over when Sarah Palin joined the team. Maybe it took the credit markets’ collapse. Maybe it was over the day after the 2004 election. An awful lot of people seem to be leaning out their windows and shouting, “I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore…”

  • kevin

    Obama’s team has done a good job, but I wonder how they would have done if the press went after them like they did against Senator McCain and Gov. Palin.

  • Ernie

    The Neo-Con policy of the past 30 years – “give it all to the Rich and see how well it will be for you”! What I see is that a lot of people still don’t get it.

    Here’s how it works: We have a country. They want to sell it and pocket the money. They call themselves “Globalists”, not Americans – right in your presence, and you aren’t even insulted. (You probably wouldn’t be insulted if they made a pass at your wife). You work your whole life. Getting out of bed everyday to go to work believing that you are making the world a better place – that it all counts for more than just a paycheck.

    And what do they do? They come to you and tell you that, “as a matter of fact, you had a better deal than you deserved all along”. They send the opportunities you helped create Overseas! – and tell you that “You need to work even harder and – that truth be told, You always got more than you deserved anyway. Elect me and I’ll do something about that and fix that Social Security pile of money we haven’t taken possession of yet”!

    And you just stand there and take it!!! You just suck it right up. What? Is it to simple to be believed?
    What the heck is the matter with you all – what would they have to do to move you enough to feel the truth? They buy your government and sell it to the highest bidder; they corrupt your constitution; they steal, and steal so vigorously it’s possible to blame everybody in the dust storm they kick up.

    Wise up America! We can have it all – but we got to kick some butt to do it. If we don’t they WILL have it all. Now they are losing because they got caught doing it and they are standing there like some brazen child who has gotten caught with his hand in the cookie-jar and is saying, “What Cookie”?!

    Imagine if we were sending just one weeks worth of Iraq billions to the earthquake ravaged areas in
    Pakistan right now. Imagine if the world saw our “intervention” in those generous terms. We would
    spend a lot less money and create a world where the people in the streets, world wide, would support and respect us. Where would our enemies hide? What American political party could oppose our aggression when it was needed and justified, in a world like that? No. What we will do instead is attack them if they have what we need and call them a “threat” to justify it.

    Instead we accept a world of woe and a bizarre sense of obligation to live and die just for the fortunes
    of people who would own the world before caring about a single American life (or any life for that matter). They are almost there now.

    Heads Up.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Kevin: Ever hear of Rev. Wright? I think the press went after him plenty and got burned.

  • Majawill

    I find it sad that people need to be inspired by someone else to do and live better. I would think that doing and living better for the sake of yourself or your families should be sufficient. But then I don’t get Oprah’s popularity either.

  • Natasha

    There was a caller from Massachusetts who questioned whether or not there was really a high level of support for Obama here because she was seeing about an equal level of McCain signs as Obama signs. I wanted to address that.

    Speaking as someone who decided to volunteer for the Obama campaign, I can say that everyone from MA has been asked to put their efforts into New Hampshire, and other swing states. Most folks who can have been driving up to NH to volunteer there, so you won’t seem them going door to door here in MA. When it comes to signs, early on, there were so many signs needed in swing states, that it was actually pretty hard to get a sign here in Massachusetts. That’s changed now – we can get signs here, however the campaign continues to wisely put more resources (both human and material) into the swing states.

  • Majawill

    Come on, even Clinton whined about the soft-glove treatment of Obama; it’s actually worsened since the primaries ended.

    The Wright incident is a telling one: go to his church for years, subscribe to his teachings, use his quotations, and then when the heat’s on, dump him. Let’s hope Biden’s wrong and Obama is never tested — he’s shown how he responds to just a little pressure.

  • Ann-marie

    “Obama’s team has done a good job, but I wonder how they would have done if the press went after them like they did against Senator McCain and Gov. Palin.”

    Want some cheese with that whine? You mean that elitist media who McCain and Palin spit on everyday?

    McCain and Palin have gotten the biggest free ride of their lives from the press:

    1) When was the last time a person running for vice president was ALLOWED to apply for that job and REFUSED to show up for a press interview. Yet, the press continue to cover her hourly and give her a free airway to deliver hate speech.

    2) The same V.P. candidate who has been CONVICTED for UNETHICAL behavior. I can’t remember seeing more than a couple of articles on this subject. We now have Senator Stevens CONVICTED of a felony, also from that same shady Alaska wild life. Every newspaper and t.v. show has endless coverage of HIM. Palin, obviously lacking shame, has asked HIM to step down. Take your own advice lady.

    3) We have a V.P. candidate MARRIED to a person who has a member of a group seeking separation of a state the union. A V.P. candidate who also gave a supportive speech to this group. The same state that is the biggest receiver of welfare per person from federal Pork. Were she a Democrat, she would be accused on TREASON and considered not-eligible to apply for a federal job. We still are waiting for an interview where Palin answers whether she would aggressively seek to make it easier for Alaska to declare independence from the U.S. Obama doesn’t wear a lapel pin and it generates THREE weeks of negative OVERCOVERAGE as well as a question during a national debate. Talk about free ride!

    4)We have a Presidential candidate having witches cast from her in church on T.V.! Same candidate saying that the war in IRAQ is to serve God. Run those images 2,000 times on the news and her negative coverage MIGHT reach 1/3 of Rev. Wright. Give me a break.

    5) We have a candidate whose teenager got pregnant at 16-years old due to Palin’s “abstinence-only sex education policy.” The same policy she wants OUR children and country to follow but claims decision on this topic “off limits”. So having the state patrol the wombs of EVERY OTHER women in the U.S. (except for Palin and family) and banning women’s rights to birth-control is NOT personal?

    McCain commits adultery, breaking the most important promises a man takes and the press considers that issue off-limits and “personal”.

    President Clinton cheats on his wife and the ENTIRE U.S. government comes to a halt for THREE-MONTHS to carry out an impeachment trial.

    The government came to a halt before also because the family of a private citizen-Terri Shiavo-wanted to exercise their free rights to make life and death decisions. This was also not considered “personal”.

    6) We now know 10% about McCain (didn’t even know he was never baptized), but we know every intimate detail about Obama-down to what he eats for breakfast and what type of underwear he wears.

    Just like Clinton, McCain ran a completely poor campaign and is using the same ole’ excuses. Just like his attacks on Obama during rallies and TV. ads, McCain is too much of a coward to talk responsibility for his actions.

  • Peter Nelson

    Obama’s team has done a good job, but I wonder how they would have done if the press went after them like they did against Senator McCain and Gov. Palin.

    HAS the press gone after McCain/Palin any worse than Obama, or have McCain/Palin simply provided more for the press to go after?

    Certainly the press had a field day with Reverend Wright and with Obama’s comments about embittered voters awith the religion and guns.

    What’s your evidence?

  • Peter Nelson

    The world’s most reliable poll – http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem/markets/data_Pres08.html – is showing a slight narrowing in the race as the final days approach. This is normal and it would have to narrow a lot more to make the race “interesting”.

    Last Friday’s On The Media pretty neatly disassembled the “Brady Effect”.

    I didn’t see the infamous infomercial last light because I don’t watch TV. What did people here think of its imapact on the race? I’ve head some suggestions that it was seen as detrimental because people are fed up with all the advertising, and also that such an extravagant spending of campaign money might send the wrong message? Was it the right thing to do?

  • AV

    Last Friday’s On The Media pretty neatly disassembled the “Brady Effect”.

    Peter, did you mean the Bradley Effect? :)

    As for criticism of Obama, there’s some from the left:

    I will be voting for either Nader or McKinney, as MA is a safe state guaranteed to go to Obama. Might as well put my vote to some use instead of wasting it on either of the two major party candidates.

  • Rachel

    I didn’t watch the Democratic Convention, for some reason I wasn’t interested. But the Obama’s infomercial really moved me. I understand most politicians have to play games at times to get things done or sell themselves to be in the position that they can really make a “change” even if it’s a small change.

    But I guess it’s instinct when I see a more sincere person to compare with other politicians, and I find it in Obama. I find compassion in Obama, as for how he will execute his compassion if he is elected, it remains question.

    And to idolized a public figure is not realistic, but we do need to expect from our elected officials after they took office.

    We need to stay realistic, just like Obama said in rallies, he can’t do everything to make better changes come true, but he will try in his power. Better changes also depend on every citizen to put this country back on track.

  • Peter Nelson

    Last Friday’s On The Media pretty neatly disassembled the “Brady Effect”.

    Peter, did you mean the Bradley Effect?

    Yes (It’s a good thing I didn’t call it the Cassel effect)- On The Media (last friday) pretty much showed that it didn’t exist, at least not to a significant degree.

    But the Obama’s infomercial really moved me.

    OK, but what I was asking was whether people think it was an effective piece of campaign strategy. My worry is that something like that has the potential to backfire for many voters, especiaslly ones on the fence or undecided. The “instant polls” since last night show a narrowing, but is this due to the informercial or the natural narrowing that takes places in the last few days?

    If we’re talking about ads we personally liked, I’ve only watched ONE political ad in 2008! But it was a doozy. ( It helps that I don’t watch TV ) . . .

    This morning I saw the Charles Stone III “Whassup 2008″ ad on YouTube. Using the original cast and some of the original production staff, Stone reprised the Budweiser “Whassup” ads, showing how the five men fared under 8 years of Bush. (hint: it begins with a phone call from Iraq). The production values are fully professional, and it’s a remarkably affecting ad – my wife and I were simultaneously laughing and crying watching it this morning!

    PS – When Stone did the original Budweiser ads he retained the legal rights to the “Whassup” phrase and concept so Annheiser-Busch can’t touch him on this excellent self-parody.

  • Rachel

    Here’s an article about John McCain-THE MADE BELIEVED MAVRICK


  • Linda

    Rachel, glad someone referenced this article here; it’s long but very worth the read to get to know the “real” McCain. I’ve forwarded it to a few republicans I know. Have to admit, I wondered why the Obama camp didn’t use some of it when McCain’s campaign got down and dirty using Wright & Ayers. But, then again, that’s one of the many reasons I’m voting for Obama – he’s a person of character that doesn’t stoop that low.

    I thought the Obama 1/2 hour was very well done. It gave him the chance to make all the points he’s been making at every debate without a scowling McCain making annoying faces on the split screen. It was classy like him, and if McCain could afford it, he’d do the exact same thing.

    I can’t wait for next week when we take a big step toward ending the war, improving our schools, making healthcare a right, and bringing our standing in the world back to a respectable place. And I can’t wait for January to send that “good ole’ boy” and his cronies back to TX.

    PS There are Obama signs all over my area of MA including one proudly planted on my front lawn!

  • Norah P.

    I also wanted to address the woman from Lexington, MA, who said there were relatively few Obama signs and a proliferation of McCain ones. This just didn’t square with my experience, so since the show aired yesterday, I’ve been doing an informal count as I’ve driven around Brookline, Wellesley, and Newton since yesterday (all relatively close to Lexington)–and Obama signs on cars and in yards outnumber McCain’s approximately 5:1. Seems like we can trust at least some polls, anyway.

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

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Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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