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Obama takes battle to Republican territory

world Updated: Nov 02, 2008 19:10 IST

As the US presidential contest entered its final phase, a confident Barack Obama promised to heal America's political divisions while rival John McCain fought to hold on to Republican-leaning states and pledged to score an historic upset.

For Obama, it was a time for soaring rhetoric and forays deep into Republican territory, buoyed by record campaign donations and encouraging poll numbers. "We have a righteous wind at our back," he said of his bid to become the US's first black president.

For McCain, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war, the weekend was his last chance to persuade voters to defy the polls and sweep him into office.

"We're a few points down but we're coming back," he told supporters in Virginia. "I'm not afraid of the fight, I'm ready for it and you're going to fight with me."

Obama was campaigning in Nevada, Colorado and Missouri yesterday, all states that voted for President George W Bush four years ago, while McCain struggled to keep Virginia from voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964.

Both candidates were backed by armies of supporters manning phone banks, handing out brochures and spinning journalists as the campaigns made their final push Saturday in a race that carried a price tag estimated at $2 billion.

McCain's hopes hinged on winning all or nearly all the states that carried Bush to victory in 2004, and possibly carrying Pennsylvania to give him a margin for error in America's state-by-state system of choosing a president.

Both candidates have appealed to supporters to turn out, saying the stakes could scarcely be higher.