Obama Trying To Turn Red States Blue
LIANE HANSEN, host:
Senator Barack Obama is finishing his campaign exclusively in states that voted twice for President Bush. Yesterday, it was Nevada, Colorado, and Missouri. Today, it's a full day in Ohio. The Democrat is counting on wins in at least one or two of these states to nail down an electoral college victory on Tuesday. Yesterday, Obama used the words of none other than Vice President Dick Cheney to help make his case. NPR's Don Gonyea reports.
DON GONYEA: Vice President Cheney was in Laramie, Wyoming campaigning for incumbent Republicans running for the U.S. House and Senate. During his speech, he also weighed in on the presidential race.
Vice President DICK CHENEY: I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Senator John McCain.
(Soundbite of applause)
GONYEA: For the Obama campaign, Cheney's return was a kind of gift, and the candidate wasted no time unwrapping it. Here he is in Springfield, Missouri last night.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee): Earlier today, Dick Cheney - Dick Cheney, don't need to boo, just need to vote. Dick Cheney came out of his undisclosed location.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Sen. OBAMA: And he hit the campaign trail.
GONYEA: In the summer of this year, neither the vice president nor the president campaigned much. President Bush made no public appearances this fall on behalf of either John McCain or any GOP congressional candidates, and Cheney, once a mainstay for campaigning congressman, has been nearly as invisible.
That's at least in part because Obama has been calling a vote for McCain, a vote for four more years of Bush-Cheney. Now, this statement in response between Cheney and Obama is anything but a winning exchange for McCain, and yesterday, Obama's delight was more than apparent.
Sen. OBAMA: I would like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement.
(Soundbite of crowd cheering)
Sen. OBAMA: Because - because he really earned it.
GONYEA: Obama then asked if people thought a McCain candidacy backed by Cheney represents any kind of change.
Sen. OBAMA: Come on, Missouri. We know better. We're not going to be hood-winked.
GONYEA: Obama's focus on the red states reflects confidence that his party will hang on to all of the states Democrats carried four years ago, leaving him free to pursue states that Republicans never expected to be in play this year. Missouri is a great example of that, and last night, Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced Obama to 35,000 or more at a high school football field in Springfield.
Senator CLAIRE MCCASKILL (Democrat, Missouri): I'm confused. I thought there weren't supposed to be any Democrats in Green County.
(Soundbite of crowd cheering)
GONYEA: Today, Barack Obama continues the breakneck pace, campaigning across Ohio, the scene of the last battle in the 2004 campaign, and a state that could determine the winner again this year. Don Gonyea, NPR News in Springfield, Missouri.