NPR logo McCain, Obama Dash Through States In Final Days

Election 2008: On the Campaign Trail

McCain, Obama Dash Through States In Final Days

The candidates are stumping to the wire in this final weekend of the presidential campaign. Days start early and end late on Barack Obama's campaign as he encroaches on wavering red states. Meanwhile, John McCain is poised for a whirlwind tour of seven key states on the eve of the election.

McCain's two-day bus tour through Ohio on Friday was a red, white and blue salute to small-town America — with the help of former big-city Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani told supporters in Hanoverton that McCain would keep taxes and government spending down. More importantly, he said, McCain would protect the nation's security.

"He's fought for us all of his life," Giuliani told the crowd. "Now it's our time to fight for him. To prove all those people in Hollywood — all those people in the media — wrong."

Republicans love to bash Hollywood, but they make an exception for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie star-turned-California-governor helped pump up the crowd at a McCain rally Friday night in Columbus.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I only play an action hero in my movies," he said to applause. "But John McCain, he is a real action hero."

Polls show McCain is still trailing Obama in Ohio and nationally, but aides insist he's mounting a comeback. Campaign manager Rick Davis says McCain has "shaken off" the damaging effects of the financial crisis and has been gaining momentum in the last 10 days. He's also been doing more advertising after being heavily outspent on ads in recent weeks.

McCain's basic message, in ads and on the campaign trail, has not changed. He keeps trying to tag Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal, while fending off Obama's charge that he'd simply follow in the footsteps of President Bush.

"You know we both disagree with President Bush on economic policy," he tells audiences. "The difference is Sen. Obama thinks taxes have been too low, and I think that spending has been too high."

McCain still leads in Arizona, although most polls show the race has gotten closer. In a strategic move, the Obama campaign announced Friday that for the first time it will begin running TV ads in his rival's home state.

Obama campaign officials aren't talking like they expect to capture the state, but the ads do send a message that they have the resources and nerve to go after Republicans anywhere, even on McCain's home turf.

Also Friday, Obama flew to Des Moines, Iowa, for a downtown rally. He was there to ensure a big voter turnout and to say thanks. The state's January caucuses gave him his first victory of this long election year.

"What you started here in Iowa has swept the nation," he told the cheering crowd. "We're seeing the same turnout. We're seeing the same people going and getting in line — volunteers, people participating. A whole new way of democracy started right here in Iowa, and it's all across the country now."

Friday included an evening rally in Gary, Ind., and a few hours back home in Chicago to spend some of Halloween night with his two young daughters, Sasha and Malia. One dressed up as an evil fairy. The other was a corpse's bride. They didn't go trick-or-treating, opting instead for a party at a friend's home.

At one point, Obama was seen walking down the street with one daughter. When a Polish TV crew approached him with camera rolling, the usually unflappable Obama was visibly perturbed as he pleaded for some privacy, saying, "That's enough. You've got your shot. Leave us alone."

McCain campaigns this weekend in two red states, Florida and Virginia, and two blue states, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Obama heads to Nevada and Missouri.