Obama Trying To Turn Red States Blue

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He's finishing his campaign exclusively in states that voted twice for President Bush. The Democrat is counting on wins in one or two of these to nail down an Electoral College victory on Tuesday.

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.

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Can States Change Color With Two Days To Go?

Sen. John McCain and Tina Fey on 'SNL.' Credit: Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank i

Sen. John McCain spoofed the presidential campaign Saturday as Tina Fey played Gov. Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank hide caption

itoggle caption Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank
Sen. John McCain and Tina Fey on 'SNL.' Credit: Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank

Sen. John McCain spoofed the presidential campaign Saturday as Tina Fey played Gov. Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.

Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank

The candidates are busy trying to take states out from under each other with just two days to go until Election Day. Barack Obama is finishing his campaign exclusively in states that voted twice for President Bush, while John McCain is reaching out to blue state Pennsylvania. Also stepping onto the presidential campaign stage this weekend was Vice President Dick Cheney — though whose campaign he helped is a matter of perspective.

Cheney Hits The Campaign Trail

"I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Sen. John McCain," Cheney said to applause in Laramie, Wyo., on Saturday. The vice president was there campaigning for incumbent Republicans running for the U.S. House and Senate.

For the Obama campaign, Cheney's return was a kind of gift that the candidate wasted no time in unwrapping.

"Dick Cheney," Obama started, before a chorus of boos rang out from the crowd in Springfield, Mo. "No need to boo — you just need to vote," he quipped. "Dick Cheney came out of his undisclosed location and hit the campaign trail."

This summer, neither the president nor the vice president campaigned much. President Bush made no public appearances this fall on behalf of either John McCain or any GOP congressional candidates. Cheney, once a mainstay for campaigning congressmen, 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. On Saturday, Obama made the delight of the Democratic campaign apparent.

"I'd like to congratulate Sen. McCain on this endorsement," Obama told the crowd, "because he really earned it."

Obama Focuses On Red States

On Saturday, Obama was in Nevada, Colorado and Missouri. He will spend all of Sunday in Ohio. The Democrat is counting on wins in at least one or two of these states to nail down an Electoral College victory Tuesday.

His concentration on these red states reflects confidence that his party will hang on to all of the states Democrats carried four years ago, leaving Obama free to pursue states that Republicans never expected to be in play this year. Missouri is one example.

"I thought there weren't supposed to be any Democrats in Greene County," U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) teased the 35,000-plus crowd before introducing Obama in Springfield on Saturday.

GOP Hoping Pennsylvania Turns Red

McCain sees Pennsylvania as one of his last, best chances to win a blue state — a state that Democrats have carried in recent elections.

The Republican presidential nominee is hoping to pick off enough conservative Democrats and independents, along with Republicans from Pennsylvania's midsection to capture the state for the GOP for the first time since 1988.

"Thank you, Pennsylvania," McCain told a crowd in the small town of Perkasie, between Allentown and Philadelphia.

"We need to win in Pennsylvania on Nov. 4, and with your help, we're going to win here in Pennsylvania. And we're going to bring real change to Washington."

For months now, McCain has been touting tax cuts as the key to reviving the nation's sagging economy. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says the biggest beneficiaries of McCain's plan would be the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans. But by repeatedly invoking "Joe the Plumber" in recent weeks, McCain has managed to repackage his proposal as a boon to small business. And that made an impression on Pennsylvania voter Louise Kennedy.

"My son has a small business. And I believe that is true — that he is for small business." Kennedy, who's a supporter of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, is also drawn to McCain because of his opposition to abortion.

"I'm a conservative first, but I'm also a believer," Kennedy said. "I'm a born-again believer, and I believe in what he stands for."

Although polls still show Obama leading in the state, Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell says it's close — and McCain says he's closing in.

McCain Spoofs Campaign On SNL

Despite the mad dash to the finish, McCain still had time to poke fun at his political predicament. On Saturday, he took a detour to New York for a guest spot on Saturday Night Live. He spoofed Obama's big-budget, half-hour TV buy with a cheaper "infomercial" of his own. The role of running mate Sarah Palin was played, of course, by former SNL cast member Tina Fey.

"Are you someone who likes fine jewelry, and also respects a politician who can reach across the aisle?" McCain said to the camera. "You can't go wrong with McCain Fine Gold. It commemorates the McCain-Feingold Act — and also looks great with evening wear."

With the end of the campaign in sight, McCain will stump Sunday in New Hampshire, where he made the biggest comeback in his career — so far.

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