With less than a month to go until Election Day, all of the action will be in a handful of battleground states as the campaigns zero in on their key targets. On Thursday, the political universe consists of Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri.
Barack Obama kicks off a two-day, five-city bus tour through Ohio, on the heels of an ABC News/Washington Post poll this week that shows him leading John McCain 51-45 among likely voters in the Buckeye State. This is Obama's first visit to the Buckeye State since Sept 9.
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 in Dayton, Cincinnati and Portsmouth on Thursday. Dayton is in Montgomery County, which Kerry won 51-49 in 2004; Cincinnati is in Hamilton County which went for Bush 53-47 four years ago and Portsmouth is in Scioto County, where Bush beat Kerry 52-48 percent.
The Ohio Secretary of State's office announced yesterday that 665,949 new voters have registered since Jan. 1, with the largest gains coming in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland and its suburbs. Eighteen percent of the new registered voters live in Cuyahoga and 10 percent live in Franklin County, which includes Columbus and The Ohio State University.
Cuyahoga County is Obama's stronghold – in the ABC News/Washington Post poll, Obama leads by a wide margin (71-26). Voters in Ohio do not register by party, but given that polling data, could the 122,618 new voters in Cuyahoga deliver Ohio for Obama? (Bush's margin in 2004? Just 118,601 votes.)
Since wrapping up the Democratic nomination in June, Obama has had 23 events in Ohio – more than any other battleground state. McCain has had 31 events in Ohio since wrapping up his nomination in early March, second only to Florida where he has had 34 events.
Obama already has Cleveland Cavalier/statewide favorite LeBron James on his team but will Browns QB Derek Anderson show up at any of his events this week? At their event in Strongville OH today, McCain/Palin had Browns back-up Brady Quinn, who is perhaps better know for his Subway commercials these days than his game stats.
McCain and Palin team up for a town hall in Waukesha, WI on Thursday. Per ABC News' records, this is their 19th joint event since Palin was named McCain's running mate on August 29. Obama and Biden have done 8 joint events. The thinking behind the McCain/Palin buddy act is that the crowds are more enthusiastic and larger than if they were to campaign on their own. But there are just 27 days until Election Day and the McCain campaign is playing defense in more states than they are on the offense – are they wasting opportunities to cover twice as much ground by having them share a stage?
Tivo Alert! ABC News' Charlie Gibson sat down with Barack Obama in Indianapolis today as part of World News' "Great American Battleground Bus Tour" which is making its way through the Midwest this week.
Gibson and Obama talked about the economy and voters putting their faith in a young, one-term Senator.
"[I]f I didn't have confidence in the ability to lead the country, I wouldn't be running for president," Obama said. "But it's not simply trust me. What I'm saying to the American people is trust in us. Trust in ourselves. Trust in our innovation, the talent of our workers.
Trust in our ability to be pragmatic and think these problems through and solve them." Gibson asked Obama what he would do right now on the economy that is different than President Bush. Obama cited President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his ability to provide to the American people "a sense that somebody's in charge."
Gibson's interview will air tonight on World News. He will sit down with John McCain on Thursday in Madison WI.
Ad Spending ABC News' Tahman Bradley takes a look at how the presidential campaigns are spending their money and reports that Obama is outspending the McCain campaign and RNC combined by about six million and nearly 100 percent of McCain's ads were negative.
From Bradley: "The presidential campaign spent over $28 million on TV ads last week and over half of the spending was in 7 key Midwest battleground states, a new TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG and University of Wisconsin Advertising Project study found."
Obama spent $17.5 million on TV ads from Sept 28-Oct. 4, while McCain and the RNC combined spent $11 million.
"Obama outspent McCain last week by a 3 to 1 margin in Florida, over 2 to 1 margin in New Hampshire, over 3 to 2 in Nevada, over 8 to 1 in North Carolina and over 3 to 1 in Virginia, the study found."
Ohio and Pennsylvania are the top two states where the candidates are pouring in ad cash: "Obama spent $2.2 million, McCain $1.7 million in Ohio last week. Pennsylvania received nearly the same amount of ad dollars from the campaigns – Obama spent $2.2 million, McCain $1.6 million there."
Big night on cable tonight: McCain and Palin sit down for a joint interview with Sean Hannity airing tonight on "Hannity and Colmes" and Palin talks to Greta Van Susteren. Michelle Obama will be a guest on "Larry King Live" and "The Daily Show."
On the campaign front. . .
-- 9:30 am ET: Holds town hall in Waukesha, WI.
-- 9:30 am ET: Holds town hall in Waukesha, WI.
-- 11:20 pm ET: Holds rally in Dayton, OH.
-- 3:00 pm ET: Holds rally in Cincinnati, OH.
-- 7:30 pm ET: Holds rally in Portsmouth, OH.
-- 8:00 am ET: Holds community gathering in St. Joseph, MO.
At the White House. . .
-- 2:55 pm ET: Makes remarks at Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration.
POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM
ABC News' Russell Goldman: Round 2: Candidates Spar Over Economy, Foreign Policy, Leadership LINK
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: Two Debates Down, Two Wins for Obama LINK
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: Why No Ayers Attack? LINK
ABC News' Tahman Bradley: Campaigns Spent $28 Million on TV ads Last Week LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Son of Democratic Politician Indicted for Hacking Palin's E-mail LINK
ABC News' Bret Hovell: Cindy McCain Takes Off Her Gloves LINK
ABC News' John Berman, Sunlen Miller, and Ursula Fahy: Obama: 'Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Weeks Ago?' LINK
ABC News' Matt Jaffe: Back on the Trail, Biden Blasts McCain, Palin LINK
ABC News' Jonathan Newman, Matthew Jaffe and Stu Chamberlain: Biden Supporter Makes Biden-Like Gaffe LINK
ABC News' Ron Claiborne: That One, Too LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: McCain: 'Status Quo Is Not On the Ballot' LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: An Unheavenly Scene in Bethlehem LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper and Matthew Jaffe: Biden Calls Palin's Comments 'Mildly Dangerous' LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Oprah-pa-looza, Part 2 LINK
POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM
Obama Invokes Ronald Reagan
Obama tells Indiana crowd to ask, "Are better off than you were 4 weeks ago?" LINK
The candidates take on the issues and each other, but was it a game changer? LINK
'View' Ladies Bored by the Debate
The show's hosts agree that the presidential debate offered plenty of nothing. LINK
AIG Execs Spend Big During Bailout
Executives blow nearly a half million at resort days after federal bailout. LINK
A Rare Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger
The Calif. governor addresses the economic crisis and opens up about his life. LINK
Oops! Biden Introduced as 'John McCain'
A Florida community member accidentally introduces Joe Biden as John McCain. LINK
Kimmel: The Life of Sarah Palin
Jimmy puts a spin on the governor's story that leans heavy on hunting. LINK
Biden Laughs ... and Laughs Over 'SNL'
Obama's running mate loses it after watching a spoof of the VP debate. LINK
Health Care and You
A look at how the candidates' health-care plans will affect the average American. LINK
Joe Biden on the Debate
Obama's running mate offers his opinion on the second presidential debate. LINK
The Bottom Line on Nashville
George Stephanopoulos discusses the debate. LINK
Finances Around the Globe
A look at how stocks are doing around the world. LINK
Jake Tapper Looks at the Debate
A lot changed between the first and second debate; how did the candidates do? LINK
Debate Report Card
George Stephanopoulos grades the candidates in the second presidential debate. LINK