McCain At War In Battleground States

John McCain hit several battleground states this week. Friday, as Barack Obama was visiting his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, Senator McCain held rallies in Colorado. It's a state that George Bush won four years ago, but where McCain now trails Barack Obama in the polls.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Now to the campaign trail which took John McCain to half a dozen battleground states this week. Yesterday, as Barack Obama was visiting his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, Senator McCain held two rallies in Colorado. That's a state that President Bush won four years ago. Mr. McCain, though, now trails Mr. Obama in the polls there. NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.

INA JAFFE: At a rally in Denver yesterday, John McCain could not have been introduced by a bigger local hero. John Elway, the former quarterback of the Denver Broncos in their glory days, tried to put his own perspective on McCain's predicament in Colorado.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Denver)

Mr. JOHN ELWAY (Former Quarterback, Denver Broncos): Senator, it's the fourth quarter in your game, and some pundits I watch on TV are already counting you out. But I know a thing or two about comebacks.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

JAFFE: McCain's been coming back to one of his tried and true themes that he has the experience to lead and Obama doesn't. But now there's a new wrinkle. He brings up Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden's remark that a new president will be tested by an international crisis early in his administration.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Denver)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Republican Presidential Candidate): We don't want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars.

JAFFE: McCain said he would not be a president who invited such testing. He also showed no signs he was getting tired of the now famous Joe the plumber, aka Joe Wurzelbacher, who confronted Barack Obama about his tax policy during an Ohio campaign stop. In Durango, it appeared McCain supporters weren't getting tired of Joe either. McCain looked out at a sea of homemade signs held aloft.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Durango)

Senator MCCAIN: Joe the Florist is here, Joe the Carpenter, Dan the Rancher. Hi, Dan.

(Soundbite of crowd laughing)

Senator MCCAIN: Another Joe the plumber. Joe the plumber's kid, how are you?

JAFFE: McCain told the crowd that small businesses and the people who work for them would suffer under Obama's tax policy.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Durango)

Senator MCCAIN: Senator Obama says he's going to soak the rich, but it's the middle class that are going to get put through the wringer.

JAFFE: The Obama campaign yesterday blasted McCain for, quote, "desperate and dishonest attacks," but McCain's word sounded just right to Robert Witt(ph), an alfalfa farmer who came to hear McCain in Durango.

Mr. ROBERT WITT (Alfalfa Farmer): If McCain losses this election, we're headed into communism. Is that plain enough?

JAFFE: McCain took pains to make his supporters believe that he would not lose this election.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Durango)

Senator MCCAIN: Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

JAFFE: And he wanted to make the crowd believe that if they fight as hard as he does, there is still time to turn things around. Ina Jaffe, NPR News, traveling with the McCain campaign.

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