Democrat Barack Obama on Sunday pursued his audacious hunt for votes in America's conservative heartland after rallying monster crowds in the Republican "red" state of Missouri with a rousing call for change.
Just over a fortnight before the November 4 election, the White House hopeful was to campaign in north Carolina -- which last voted for a Democratic presidential contender in 1976 but is now a toss-up state.
And Obama's camp was hoping for a landmark endorsement as NBC prepared to air an interview on its Sunday politics show "Meet the Press" with former secretary of state Colin Powell, a Republican military grandee.
For the liberal left, Powell was tarnished by his role in promoting the US invasion of Iraq. But it would be a stern slap to Republican John McCain's candidacy if the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff backed Obama.
McCain, fighting a rearguard offensive as his poll numbers sag, insisted that Obama's economic plan would "kill" job creation as the United States weathers its worst financial crisis in decades.
"At least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives," he said yesterday, as his campaign bombarded voters' telephones with "robo-calls" portraying Obama as a closet radical.
But the Democrat, who is riding high in national and state polls, was buoyed by the astonishing numbers he attracted on Saturday in Missouri, which voted for Republican President George W Bush in the last two elections.