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The final charge

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama looked to pick up three red states on the final Saturday of the campaign, while Republican John McCain defended GOP turf before breaking to appear on Saturday Night Live.

world Updated: Nov 01, 2008 23:35 IST

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama looked to pick up three red states on the final Saturday of the campaign, while Republican John McCain defended GOP turf before breaking to appear on Saturday Night Live.

The candidates’ travel plans heading into the campaign’s final weekend had them almost completely focused on states that President George W. Bush won in 2004.

“We are four days away from changing the United States of America,” Obama told voters Friday night in Indiana, one of about a half-dozen Republican states that remains up for grabs late this election season.

McCain’s campaign argued the Arizona senator was closing the gap in the final days and he was closer than reflected in public polling. Privately, McCain’s aides said he trailed Obama by 4 points nationwide in internal polling.

“We’re closing, my friends, and we’re going to win in Ohio,” McCain said during a stop in the state Friday. “We’re a few points down but we’re coming back and we’re coming back strong.”

An Associated Press-Yahoo News poll of likely voters put Obama ahead, 51 to 43, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. But one in seven voters, 14 per cent of the total — said they were undecided or might yet change their
minds.

The candidates focused on winning over the undecideds and encouraging their supporters to get to the polls.

Obama planned final get-out-the-vote rallies in Nevada, Colorado and Missouri for Saturday.

McCain had eight states on his final three-day itinerary besides the detour to New York City for Saturday Night Live,
hosted by Obama supporter Ben Affleck. Monday’s schedule called for him to visit several states, ending with a midnight rally in Arizona where Obama was running television ads. “We want to win everywhere,” Obama said of his decision to air the commercials in his opponent’s state.

Americans on Tuesday will vote in what amounts to 51 separate elections in each state and the District of Columbia.

Each state has a number of electoral votes based on the size of its representation in Congress. Whichever candidate gets
270 electoral votes wins the White House.

They will choose between Illinois Senator Obama, 47, who would be the country's first black president, and Arizona Senator McCain, 72, the former Vietnam prisoner of war who would be the oldest person ever elected to a first presidential term. If current polling is accurate and stands up on Election Day, Obama will win, possibly by a comfortable margin. But McCain and his aides see signs of hope from their own polling as well as some public opinion polls.

A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Saturday said Obama’s lead McCain dipped slightly to 5 points. “There is no doubt that McCain made some gains,” said pollster John Zogby. “It is enough to raise the question, is McCain making a move?”