With the debates in Barack Obama's rear-view mirror, the Democratic presidential nominee set out Thursday to make a final pitch to win the states that he hopes will deliver him to the presidency.
Obama is surging in national polls, and Democrats are confident. But the Illinois senator cautioned supporters in New Hampshire against getting overly confident.
"We are 19 days away from changing this country -- 19 days," he said. "But for those who are getting a little cocky, I've got two words for you: New Hampshire."
Obama made his remarks in the same Londonderry apple orchard he visited a few months before the Jan. 8 primary, in which Sen. Hillary Clinton pulled off a surprise victory.
Lessons Learned in New Hampshire
Obama had been leading in state polls right before the primary, but Clinton beat him out 39-37 percent a few days after getting emotional in a roundtable with New Hampshire women voters. In her victory speech, Clinton claimed that New Hampshire had helped her "find my voice."
"I learned right here with the help of my great friend and supporter Hillary Clinton that you cannot let up, you can't pay too much attention to the polls," Obama said today. "We've got to stand up, we've got to organize, we've got to make phone calls, we've got to talk to our friends."
Some internal campaign polls have Obama neck-and-neck in the Granite State with Republican presidential nominee John McCain, but a recent CNN/TIME/ORC poll gave Obama an 8-point lead over McCain. Either way, Obama has made it clear he's not resting easy.
On Thursday, Obama pledged to help ease the burden of New Hampshire's budget crisis, placing new emphasis on a pricey spending proposal he first brought up in August. The proposal calls for taking $25 billion in federal money to help New Hampshire and the 20 other states facing budget shortfalls so they will not have to raise property taxes or further cut state services.
"The last thing we should be doing when families are struggling is forcing states and towns to choose between getting rid of essential programs or raising property taxes," Obama said. "You've got a great governor here in John Lynch. What he needs is a strong partner in the White House, and that's what I'll be if I am president of the United States."
Tackling Red States
Obama will take his message on an aggressive tour of red states next week, when he'll campaign in states that President Bush won twice -- including Virginia on Friday, Missouri on Saturday, North Carolina on Sunday and Florida on Monday.
Obama is competing in red states such as Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
The Obama campaign also confirmed today that it is buying TV time in West Virginia -- a state that went for Bush twice. Despite having a history of voting Democratic in local elections, in recent years it has leaned Republican on the presidential level, and Clinton cleaned Obama's clock in the Mountaineer State during the WV primary.
The campaign believes it has an opening in what it sees as McCain's inability to articulate a coherent economic view. Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden will campaign in West Virginia soon.
Obama is able to campaign in so many red states because of his enormous fundraising advantage.
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos reported this week that Obama was on track to possibly raising $100 million in the month of September. He's already outspending McCain on television advertising two to one -- and sometimes three or even four to one -- in key battleground states.
Democratic strategist Tad Devine argued that with that kind of money, Obama has to campaign aggressively in the race's final stretch.
"He has to use the fact that he has more money, more resources available, to campaign in more states and put McCain on the defensive -- particularly in the Republican states," Devine said.