Today in Albuquerque, NM, John McCain unleashed perhaps his strongest attack of the entire campaign on Barack Obama. The Republican nominee called his opponent out on his fundraising, his (in)action on the financial crisis and even questioned his honesty and openness.
Stepping up his rhetoric against the Democratic nominee, McCain accused him of not being forthright about his record.
"Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain asked, per ABC News' Bret Hovell. "Even at this late hour in the campaign there are things we don't know about Senator Obama or the record that he brings to this campaign."
Couple this with running mate Sarah Palin in Florida hammering Obama on his "associating" with Bill Ayers and bringing up the fear card for the first time.
"I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America -- as the greatest source for good in this world," Palin said of Obama to 2,000 supporters at a rally in Clearwater, Florida this morning, per ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala. "I'm afraid this someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country."
"This, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change that anyone can believe in, not my kids, not for your kids," Palin added.
The Obama campaign fired back with its own "association" attack, releasing a 13-minute documentary about McCain's connection to the Keating Five scandal.
The two-front attack comes the day before the second of three presidential debates and as another battleground state poll shows McCain/Palin trailing Obama/Biden in a key state that President Bush won in 2004.
Obama leads McCain 51-45 among likely voters in an ABC News/Washington Post poll released tonight. The economy is far and away the most important issue to Ohio voters and Obama is "riding economic discontent to an advantage" there, per ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer. Obama is "bolstered in part by financially stressed voters in the state's hard-hit industrial belt – and following it up with a more extensive ground campaign in this key contest."
Digging deeper into the numbers finds some interesting statistics that will have the folks on Michigan Avenue smiling tonight. Not surprisingly, Obama leads by a wide margin (71-26) in Cuyahoga County, the heavily Democratic Cleveland area. But Obama also has a 17-point lead in the northeastern region, which includes the Rust Belt industrial cities of Akron, Canton and Youngstown. John Kerry eked out a 52-47 win in that region in 2004 over President Bush. In the center and southeastern corner of the state, a region that is more rural and more solidly Republican, Obama has a 51-45 lead. Bush won this same region by 8 points in 2004.
Since wrapping up the Democratic nomination in June, Obama has had 23 events in Ohio, per an analysis of ABC News' records – more than any other battleground state. McCain has had 30 events in Ohio since wrapping up his nomination in early March, second only to Florida where he has had 34 events.
Obama hits the ground with a two-day bus tour on Oct 9-10 through southern and central Ohio with stops in Dayton, Cincinnati, Portsmouth and other TBA cities. This is Obama's first visit to the Buckeye State since Sept 9. McCain was last there on Sept. 29.