Obama Gaining Ground In Key Swing States
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.
ARI SHAPIRO, Host:
And I'm Ari Shapiro sitting in for Renee Montagne. She's on assignment in New Mexico reporting on the presidential campaign. The election is four weeks from tomorrow, and Barack Obama and John McCain will meet face to face two more times. Tomorrow they'll debate in Nashville, and next week on Long Island. In a moment, we'll hear from voters in Pennsylvania, one of the hotly contested states. But first, NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts joins us for a look at the state of play. Good morning, Cokie.
COKIE ROBERTS: Hi, Ari.
SHAPIRO: This race has been neck-and-neck for so long, suddenly Obama is leading McCain both nationally and in important battleground states. What's going on? Is this all about the economy?
ROBERTS: And now Obama has an ad up calling McCain, quote, "erratic," which plays to the questions of the senator's temperament. So I think the best hope for John McCain at this point is to move onto other subjects now that the economic package is through the Congress. But given the way the markets look this morning, Ari, I'm not sure that that's very likely.
SHAPIRO: Well, the McCain campaign recently has started going after Obama personally. Do you think that tactic is likely to be effective?
ROBERTS: Well, look, negative campaigns work. We know that. And vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, fresh from her debate, has taken on the traditional vice presidential candidate role of going after the opposition. And she brought up Obama's association with '70s radical Bill Ayers over the weekend. And today in The New York Times, Bill Kristol has a column saying that he talked to Sarah Palin over the weekend and that she thinks Jeremiah Wright, Obama's controversial former pastor, is fair game as well. Obama hit back immediately saying he, quote, "won't be swiftboated," and he says that a negative campaign is what happens when you're out of ideas and out of time. You know, given the state of the economy, whether people are going to respond to this is questionable. I think that they're worried so much about themselves that they're not as worried about Barack Obama.
SHAPIRO: Just looking at the campaign map for a moment, Sarah Palin was campaigning in Omaha, Nebraska, last night. Now why would a Republican be campaigning in such a reliably Republican state this late in the election?
ROBERTS: A similar situation has been playing out in Maine where McCain has been looking for one electoral vote. I think the Obama forces now seem to be thinking they may be less close as McCain has shut down his operation in Michigan, and Obama still has the money to try to expand the map in places like North Carolina and Virginia where he's been able to register lots of new voters.
SHAPIRO: NPR's Cokie Roberts, thanks very much.
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