McCain camp insists he can overcome funding mismatch

BELTON, Mo. -- Republican John McCain has a $47 million budget for October, but his campaign insists he will have enough to overtake Democrat Barack Obama and his deeper pockets.

A day after Obama announced a record $150 million raised last month, McCain's campaign disclosed Monday it spent $37 million in September out of the $84.1 million in taxpayer funds it has accepted by for the general election. Obama opted out of public financing and can raise and spend unlimited amounts.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis vowed that the GOP presidential nominee has the resources — combined with aid from the Republican National Committee (RNC) — to wage an effective ad campaign and get-out-the-vote effort in the states won by President Bush in 2004 and 2000. McCain also plans to compete in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, both won in 2004 by Democrat John Kerry.

"We've got to win one of the three or four big states in play or a combination of any two of the littler ones," Davis said. Campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds added Virginia, North Carolina and Nevada — where Obama is running aggressively — "will not be taken for granted" by McCain.

The national party raised a record $66 million in September and is on pace for another record-breaking month, said RNC spokesman Alex Conant.

For his part, McCain told a crowd here in this Kansas City suburb that Missouri is a "must win" for him. McCain's travels on Monday took him to two counties won by Bush: Cass, where Belton is located, and St. Charles.

McCain tried to appeal to voters' pocketbook concerns by saying Obama's goal is to redistribute income. In St. Charles, northwest of St. Louis, he said Obama would offer tax credits to people who don't pay taxes, which McCain decried as "just another government giveaway."

McCain also seized on Obama's lack of experience. He said a new president "won't have time to get used to the office" and that the first-term Illinois senator has offered the "wrong response" on such foreign policy challenges as Iraq and Iran.

Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said McCain is "flailing" with a new charge every day. Seeking to link McCain to President Bush, Sevugan said the GOP nominee "hasn't found a compelling message to persuade voters that he is offering something other than four more years of the same failed policies."

Statewide polls show Obama and McCain are essentially tied in Missouri, which has backed the winner in every presidential election since 1900 except one. In 1956, state voters backed Adlai Stevenson who lost nationally to President Eisenhower.

"We are the bellwether of bellwethers," said Tina Hervey, communications director for the Missouri Republican Party.

No one ideology or business interest dominates the state and the electorate tends to be practical, said Wayne Fields, a professor of American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis. "The socialist argument works better in good times," Fields said. "As things get bad, people are looking for solutions."