Obama Blitz Swamps McCain

McCain responds to 30-minute Obama special with 30-second ad.

Oct. 29, 2008— -- Sen. Barack Obama intends to overwhelm Sen. John McCain in an air war today that will feature a new television ad, a 30-minute prime-time infomercial on most TV networks, an interview with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson and a late-night appearance on the "The Daily Show."

McCain's response is a 30-second ad and a CNN interview on "Larry King Live."

Watch Obama's Interview With Charles Gibson on "World News" at 6:30 p.m. ET

With six days to go in the presidential race, the candidates are shadowing each other through states that are vital to both strategies for victory. They went toe-to-toe in Ohio on Monday and held competing rallies in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Their slugfest heads to Florida today, where both will woo voters in a state that is seen as essential to McCain and could be decisive for Obama on Election Day.

Yet polls released today brought bad news for McCain. The latest Quinnipiac University survey showed Obama with a nine-point point lead, 51-42, over his Republican rival nationally. Even bleaker for McCain is a Pew Research Center poll that showed Obama with a 16-point lead among the country's registered voters.

Those are tough numbers for McCain to overcome as voting has already begun in much of the country.

Everyday Families

The centerpiece of today's furious round of campaigning is Obama's multi-network, multi-million dollar TV extravaganza that begins at 8 p.m. ET and ends just moments before the World Series resumes.

Obama will be sitting at a table with average Americans he met on the stump as they tell their stories, each illustrating an economic challenge facing voters.

Several prominent American supporters are expected to make cameo appearances to vouch for Obama.

The candidate will talk about his mother's struggle with her insurance company while dying of cancer, and the spot will climax with Obama speaking live from a campaign stop in Florida.

It will be the first time a candidate has spent so lavishly for a solid block of prime-time television since 1992, when billionaire Ross Perot bought several half-hour segments as part of his unsuccessful independent bid for the White House.

Obama and Bill Clinton's Joint Appearance in Florida

Adlai Stevenson also bought several 30-minute spots on television during his run against Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, but he also lost.

If you miss Obama's special, you may stumble across him at 6:30 p.m. ET during his sitdown with ABC News' Gibson during "World News," or again on "The Daily Show" at 11 p.m. ET.

Veteran Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf warns that there is a danger that Obama could overdo it, that some voters who aren't emotionally committed to Obama could object to having him hijack their television sets.

More serious, however, "There could be a danger if this is seen as a victory lap," Sheinkopf said. "That kind of arrogance people won't tolerate."

Jefrey Pollock, head of Global Strategy Group, believes "there's no such thing as overdoing it." Polls indicate that voters believe Obama is running a positive campaign "and you can't overdo positive."

Pollock also noted that Obama is hitting very different audiences with his televised blitz.

"The audience for Charlie Gibson and the audience for 'The Daily Show' are vastly different," he said.

"It could be a danger if voter interest wasn't so intense," said Tad Devine, who also advised Democratic candidates. "But it's enormous. It's the highest level of interest we've seen in a generation."

Dan Schnur, a GOP strategist, doubts that many people will watch the Obamathon.

"Most people will find out about it through news coverage" on Thursday, Schnur said. "The real benefit for the Obama campaign is that this unusual approach helps them dominate the news cycle for a day when there aren't many days left."

For voters in the battleground states, it will also be hard to miss Obama's new ad that uses McCain's own words to skewer him on the issue of the economy.

The Democrat's newest commercial quotes McCain saying on Dec. 18, 2007, "The issue of the economy is not something I've understood as well as I should." It also includes a McCain quote from last Nov. 28, saying, "I might have to rely on a vice president that I select" for expertise on economic issues. It then cuts to a picture of his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, without any commentary -- apparently questioning whether her selection did indeed boost the GOP ticket's economic credentials.

One moment that won't be televised will be Obama's first joint campaign appearance with former President Bill Clinton in Orlando.

McCain tries to deflate Obama's 30-minute appearance with a new 30-second ad that says, "Behind the fancy speeches, grand promises and TV special, lies the truth: With crises at home and abroad, Barack Obama lacks the experience America needs."

McCain's Newest Attack on Obama

McCain will press the experience issue today at a rally in Florida, where he will be backed by four former secretaries of state who have endorsed him along with a platoon of retired army generals.

In some of his harshest criticism of Obama yet, McCain said he doubted Obama's ability to protect America from terror attacks.

"The question is whether this is a man who has what it takes to protect America from Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and other grave threats in the world," McCain said. "And he has given you no reason to answer in the affirmative."

He also renewed his attack on Obama's friends. After criticizing Obama for weeks over his acquaintance with former Weather Underground radical Bill Ayers, McCain lashed out at Obama today for his friendship with Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi.

Khalidi advised former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during the 1990s, but has decried suicide bombers and more radical groups like Hamas. He is a currently a professor of Arab studies at Columbia.

A tie to a pro-Arab person like Khalidi could hurt Obama with Jewish voters in Florida, now considered a toss-up between the candidates.

When asked about Khalidi in May, Obama acknowledged that he knew Khalidi when both taught in Chicago and their children went to the same schools, but said, "He is not one of my advisers, he's not one of my foreign policy people."

The McCain camp continues to press its argument that Obama's tax policies will further damage the reeling economy.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told "Good Morning America" this morning that Obama would tax capital gains, dividends, payroll taxes and would "suffocate job growth."

Pawlenty was countered on "GMA" by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who argued an Obama presidency would produce a new stimulus check for Americans and would create jobs by boosting spending on state infrastructure projects.

ABC News' Bret Hovell contributed to this report