Stephanopoulos: McCain Camp Struggles to Find the Right Tone

By Jennifer Parker

Oct 17, 2008 7:59pm

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reports: John McCain may be trailing behind Barack Obama in the latest polls, but the McCain campaign remains optimistic about the chances for a McCain comeback over the next two weeks of the campaign. 

However there is a struggle inside the McCain campaign about the tone he should take, sources tell ABC News.

Some former McCain advisers want to see McCain take a more positive tone on the stump and give up on some of the attacks he’s been making against Obama.

They point to the campaign tactic adopted by incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who is locked in a tough fight for his Senate seat against comedian-turned-politician Al Franken. About a week ago, Coleman pulled all of his negative campaign ads and now he’s tightened up the race there. 

One of the fiercest fights for Obama and McCain is in the once reliably red state of Virginia. McCain campaigns in Prince William County Saturday, where he hopes to erode Obama’s support in Northern Virginia. Obama campaigned in Roanoke, Virginia today.

Polls show McCain is trailing Obama in the battleground state of Virginia, which hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

McCain aides concede that the Republican candidate can’t take the White House without winning Virginia.

But Obama has invested heavily in the state and has three times as many campaign offices there as McCain. He has also been outspending McCain in television advertising 4 to 1 in the last couple weeks in Virginia. The McCain campaign is looking to close that spending gap in the coming days — holding out hope for  the traditionally conservative-leaning state.

Obama is even giving McCain a run for his money in West Virginia.

While Obama lost West Virginia to Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary by 40 points, Obama television ads in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia have spilled over into West Virginia — tightening up the race there.

The Obama campaign has decided to put about $1 million of TV advertising in West Virginia to win those five electoral votes.

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