A Red State Kind of Weekend

With just two weekends left before Election Day, both the Republican and Democratic tickets are focusing exclusively on states that went for President Bush in 2004.

John McCain and Sarah Palin hold events in New Mexico, Iowa, Nevada, Indiana, Ohio and Florida on Saturday and Sunday. Barack Obama returns to the campaign trail with events in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado while his running mate Joe Biden is in Virginia.

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos notes on his blog today that the race boils down to eight states and all are must-win for McCain: Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Indiana, and Missouri.

Both campaigns are touting their ground games and GOTV efforts – usually talk that is reserved for the final days before Election Day but this year with so many Americans already casting ballots, the spin wars over who is doing the better job to turn out voters is already underway.

The Obama campaign held a conference call today with Campaign Manager David Plouffe, National Field Director Jon Carson and Battleground State Director Jen O'Malley to discuss the state of the race. The senior trio highlighted the advantage that Democrats have in early voting so far and their outreach and ground game. Not to be outdone, the McCain campaign points out that "while the Obama campaign has more paid staff and offices, we have a quietly efficient, battle-tested organization of staff and volunteers armed with a proven turnout method and greater targeting and technology than ever before."

ABC News Tracking Poll #5 More likely voters have an unfavorable view of Sarah Palin than a favorable one, ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer reports. Firty-one percent polled have an unfavorable view, compared to 46 who have a favorable view of the Alaska Gov who has been "beleaguered by Saksgate as well as broad doubts about her qualifications," per Langer.

The horserace stands at 53-44, Obama-McCain. Langer notes that Obama has a 7-point edge among independents and holds large leads among black and Hispanic voters.

Even the President votes early…But is the forecast so grim for McCain that reporters are questioning if the President is even voting for him? (Or maybe that is just an awareness of the mood at 1600 Penn Ave after the Washington Times article)

Count President Bush and the First Lady as part of the 30 percent of the country that will vote before Election Day.

The White House announced in an email that the President and Mrs. Bush voted early by mail in their home state of Texas. Then came the remarkable follow-up email, with the subject line "I find this hard to believe…"

"For months the President has said he supports John McCain for president and of course he voted for him," White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said.

Perino said "so many reporters have asked" that it necessitated a clarification.

The President has not appeared at a rally with McCain this year and their last photo op together was when the President officially endorsed McCain after he wrapped up the Republican nomination. The two shared a brief moment on a tarmac this summer.

Coming to your inbox. . .
Expect the Republicans to hammer at Rep. Barney Frank's comments to The Standard-Times (MA) editorial board on taxes and defense spending.

"We'll have to raise taxes ultimately. Not now, but eventually," Frank said. He also called for a 25 percent cut in military spending.

On the campaign front. . .

Saturday

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