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Obama criticises Republicans’ ‘ugly’ tactics

world Updated: Oct 27, 2008 00:24 IST

With only ten days left to campaign and the number of toss-up states seeming to diminish, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama spent Saturday crisscrossing the Rocky Mountain West in pursuit of undecided voters.

Barack Obama has accused his Republican rival John McCain of negative campaigning. Addressing a rally in Nevada, Obama, said the “ugly phone calls, the misleading mail and TV ads, the careless, outrageous comments” were preventing “change”.

McCain accused Obama in New Mexico of starting a victory lap before winning the election. But he made no apologies for the negative attacks his campaign has lobbed against his Democratic rival, including allegations Obama “pals around with terrorists,” advocates teaching children about sex before they learn to read and opposed a measure to force doctors to preserve the lives of fetuses which survive botched abortions.

The two men are focusing on vital states in the west of the country.

Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado were all Republican at the last election but could prove crucial if the vote is tight on November 4.

For McCain, the task is more urgent, as he acknowledged in an appearance before a small crowd on Saturday at the New Mexico state fairgrounds here.

“Ten days to go, we’re a few points down, and the pundits, of course, as they have, four or five times, have written us off,” McCain said. “Senator Obama is measuring the drapes and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq.”

The candidates' focus on New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada — the three southwestern states that border McCain’s home base, Arizona — underscores the changing electoral map in this presidential race. Taken together, the electoral votes in the region could offset a loss for Obama in one of the larger battleground states like Florida or Ohio.

In the case of McCain, a come-from-behind win in one or more of the Mountain states could help make up for such places like Virginia, where his advisers believe he could fall short.

With Obama’s position seeming to solidify elsewhere, he has the luxury of devoting more time to the Southwest, which polls also show starting to tilt his way. All the main national opinion polls suggest Barack Obama has a strong lead.