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Back on the campaign trail, Obama targets western swing states

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-10-25

Following a brief visit to his ailing grandmother, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama returned to campaigning hard in key states that voted for President George W. Bush in the 2004 election.

Barack Obama mocked John McCain as an acolyte of unpopular President George W. Bush Saturday as the White House foes waged close combat in western states which are key stepping stones to the presidency.

Just 10 days from election day, Senator McCain meanwhile warned the Democratic nominee, who leads most polls and boasts a big financial edge, was taking victory on November 4 for granted and vowed never to give up.

Obama threw himself back into full-bore campaigning in the swing state of Nevada, less than nine hours after touching down on the US mainland following an emotional visit to Hawaii to be at the side of the gravely ill grandmother who raised him.

He said he was grateful for an outpouring of prayers and flowers for ailing Madelyn Dunham, 85.

"It means a lot," Obama said, before launching a new assault on McCain who is trying to unshackle himself from Bush.

"John McCain is so opposed to George Bush’s policies, that he voted with him 90 percent of the time for the past eight years," Senator Obama said.

"That’s right, he decided to really stick it to him -- 10 percent of the time."

"John McCain attacking George Bush for his out-of-hand economic policy is like (Vice President) Dick Cheney attacking George Bush for his go-it-alone foreign policy."

"It's like Tonto getting mad at the Lone Ranger," he said, noting that the president cast an early ballot for McCain on Friday.

As thousands of supporters cheered, the power supply for the Democrat's microphone cut out, and he joked that a McCain operative must have pulled the plug. "That's a joke guys, there is no evidence of foul play," Obama said.

McCain meanwhile lashed Obama's tax policies, which he has described as "socialist" and made an attempt to convince Americans that his rival was arrogantly taking their votes for granted.

"Senator Obama is measuring the drapes and planning with Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and Senator (Harry) Reid to raise taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq," McCain roared in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Obama was due to hold an evening rally later.

"I will never allow this nation to be defeated ... my friends, we've got them just where we want them," McCain said.

"We love being the underdog and we're going to win! What America needs now is a fighter."

The penultimate weekend of the campaign unfolded with Obama in a commanding position and McCain seeking a sudden change of momentum to help him cling onto a sheaf of normally Republican states where the Democrats are challenging.

The Arizona senator is desperate to stop Obama making a clean sweep of western states Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico which could give the Democrat breathing room as he chases key battlegrounds in the east.

National polls have Obama up anywhere from four to 14 percentage points and with a solid lead in most battleground states, but some surveys show McCain has made up some ground in Ohio, Florida and must-win Pennsylvania.

NBC News reported that Obama was now leading in enough states to put him over the 270 electoral college votes needed to secure the presidency after saying he could win Virginia and Colorado.

The weekend was shaping up as a battle over states which helped chart Republican Bush's path back to the White House in 2004.

After Nevada and New Mexico, Obama was heading to another key western swing state, Colorado, on Sunday.

McCain was in New Mexico on Saturday and then was heading to the midwestern state of Iowa, where he trails Obama badly in the polls. He is set to campaign in the crucial bellwether state of Ohio on Sunday.

Date created : 2008-10-25