The Weekend's Mad Dash

Exhaustion is likely during Obama and McCain's final days on trail.

Oct. 31, 2008— -- It's a cruel ending to a presidential campaign that every candidate has to endure. After nearly two years of a marathon campaign, their aides have convinced the exhausted nominees that they have make one last grueling push in the final days.

Some have staggered to the finish line hoarse and drained.

Sen. Barack Obama plans to zoom through a wide swath of America between Friday and Tuesday, hitting seven states from the East to the West: Iowa, Indiana, Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia.

Sen. John McCain will work Virginia and Pennsylvania over the weekend, and then take off on a frenzied seven state tour Monday.

"As we move into this final weekend, this operation is working on eight cylinders," said Republican National Committee political director Rich Beeson Friday.

"We have to be very, very focused on getting 270 electoral votes, and you know, this election is going to be very ferocious over the next four days," David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, said Friday. "We obviously don't believe we have any of these states won until we win them."

These 11th hour tactics have produced scenes that were both poignant and cringe-worthy.

In 1996, Republican candidate Bob Dole was trailing badly and announced a 96-hour marathon of nonstop campaigning. He held bone-chilling rallies in the middle of the night as he tried to rouse enough supporters to help him catch up to Bill Clinton. At the end, he was spent, his voice was reduced to a croak. His White House bid was defeated.

Four years earlier, Clinton lost his voice before the final drive was over but made the most of it. Speaking in a raspy whisper, he told an Election Day rally in Denver, "If you will be my voice today, I will speak for you for four years."

Some tactics seemed wacky. Vice President Dick Cheney was sent zooming off to Hawaii in the final days of the campaign in a last-ditch effort to win the state's four electoral votes. Although Bush-Cheney didn't win Hawaii, they did win the election.

That same year some Democrats blamed John Kerry's inability to hit as many states as the Republicans for his narrow loss.

Sometimes, no matter how hard a campaign works, it still loses. In 2000, Al Gore's running mate, Joe Lieberman, campaigned through the night just before Election Day, ending up in a Florida coffee shop at 4 a.m. Gore and Liebeman managed to win the popular vote, but they lost the election -- because they lost Florida.

Still, the superstitious believe the outcome on election night has nothing to do with the candidates at all, and instead comes down to the Washington Redskins.

With striking accuracy, if the Redskins win their last home game before the election, the party that won the popular vote in the previous election is said to win the White House.

In other words, it may be in Obama's best interest to root for the Steelers Monday night against the Redskins.

Taking no chances, and not passing up any large audiences, both Obama and McCain are scheduled to appear in interviews during halftime on "Monday Night Football."

Relying on more traditional methods, the Obama campaign announced Friday that it would start running ads in McCain's home state of Arizona, as well as in North Dakota and Georgia -- three states leaning Republican, according to ABC News' electoral map.

Plouffe suggested that in attracting independent Arizona voters, Democrats just might have a shot at winning their opponent's home state.

"It's enough in the realm of the possible that you know, we want to put a little extra effort here in the end," Plouffe said. "We're just going to give it a go here in the last four days and see how close we can get it."

According to a recent CNN/Time/ORC poll, McCain is leading in Arizona 53-46. Arizona went to Clinton in 2006 but has otherwise been decisively red for decades. McCain campaign manager Rick Davis reacted to the Obama camp's newest plans, saying, "We encourage them to please pick other states that we intend to win, to spend their final campaign cash as spread out as much as they can."

Meantime, famous faces from each party also made appearances to support their candidates Friday. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined McCain in Ohio to make a final plug to the state's key voters. Gore, in the meantime, hit the road for Obama in Florida Friday, a Halloween stop in the state that haunts him from the 2000 election.

"As the clock winds down on what has been the most exciting and historic presidential election in anybody's recent memory, we're pretty jazzed up about what we're seeing in the movement in this election," Davis said. "Obviously, we've had a lot of ups and downs in the course of this race, and the one thing that has been the standard that the McCain campaign has created is that we fight back, and we are witnessing I believe, probably one of the greatest comebacks that you've seen since John McCain won the primary."

ABC News' Arnab Datta and Julia Hoppock contributed to this report.