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Obama fires opening salvo in Florida

Text by REUTERS

Latest update : 2008-12-11

Democrat presidential hopeful Barack Obama opened a two-day tour of Florida on Monday, in an attempt to woo early voters as polls opened in the 'sunshine state', while taking the opportunity to criticise John McCain's political style.

Democrat Barack Obama criticized Republican White House
rival John McCain for a "say anything, do anything" political
style on Monday as he opened a two-day tour to kick off early
voting in Florida.

 

McCain told supporters in Missouri that "nothing is
inevitable" and he could still beat Obama, who leads in
national opinion polls as the pair began a two-week sprint to
the Nov. 4 presidential election.

 

"In the final days of campaigns, the say-anything,
do-anything politics too often takes over," Obama told about
8,000 supporters in Tampa, Florida. "We've seen it before and
we're seeing it again today. The ugly phone calls. The
misleading mail and TV ads. The careless, outrageous
comments."

 

He noted McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin,
had told reporters on Sunday she questioned the value of
automated calls being made by McCain's campaign and the
Republican National Committee to link Obama with 1960s radical
Bill Ayers.

 

"As you know, you really have to work hard to violate
Governor Palin's standards on negative campaigning," Obama told
the crowd.

 

Obama plans to spend two days in Florida trying to build
turnout among voters casting their ballots early in the crucial
battleground state, which has 27 electoral votes and is vital
for either candidate in their quest for the 270 electoral votes
needed to win the White House.

 

More than half of all U.S. states allow voters to cast
their ballots before Nov. 4, and Florida's window for early
voting began on Monday.

 

A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll on Monday showed Obama with a
6-point edge on McCain. A new CNN poll gave Obama a 5-point
lead among likely voters, down from an 8-point edge two weeks
ago. Other polls also showed a tightening race.

 

"We've got them just where we want them," McCain said in
St. Charles, Missouri. He criticized Obama for already
beginning to select his Cabinet officials.

 

Obama touted his endorsement from Republican former
Secretary of State Colin Powell and said he would call on him
for advice.

 

"He will have a role as one of my advisers," Barack Obama
said on NBC's "Today" a day after earning the endorsement of
Powell, who is also a retired four-star general and chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

 

Formal role

 

"Whether he wants to take a formal role, whether that's a
good fit for him, is something we'd have to discuss," Obama
said.

 

Obama announced on Sunday he had raised $150 million in
September, shattering fundraising records he set earlier in the
year and fueling a huge spending advantage of about 4-to-1 over
McCain in recent weeks in battleground states.

 

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis criticized Obama for not
disclosing the identities of hundreds of thousands of donors
who have contributed less than $200 to his campaign. Campaigns
are not required to identify donors whose contributions are
less than $200.

 

The Obama campaign reported it had added more than 600,000
new donors in September for a total pool of about 3.1 million,
with an average donation of $86.

 

Davis said the Obama campaign was keeping the names of its
small-money donors secret "for no good reason." The McCain
campaign, which accepted $84 million in public funds for the
general election in early September, has listed its
small-dollar donors.

 

Davis said he was not concerned about Obama's financial
advantage, and said the U.S. economic crisis had more to do
with Obama's recent gains in opinion polls than his spending.

 

The Republican National Committee raised $66 million in
September and will be able to help McCain compete in
advertising.

 

"We think money is not going to be what decides this race,"
he said. "The lack of money on Wall Street has had more to do
with the outcome of this last month politically than the money
in Barack Obama's bank account."

Date created : 2008-10-20

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