McCain tries to keep Virginia in the red

Oct. 17, 2008 at 4:50 PM
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RICHMOND, Va., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Virginia, which hasn't gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson, may be poised to switch again, state officials say.

Recent polls indicate Democrat Barack Obama holds a lead -- one indicated by as much as 10 percentage points -- in Virginia, forcing Republican hopeful John McCain to defend the traditionally red state, The Washington Post reported.

Both candidates visited Virginia -- Obama attended a campaign event Thursday in conservative Roanoke while McCain on Saturday is to visit Prince William County, where he hopes to cut into Obama's Northern Virginia base.

A McCain victory hinges on whether Republicans built a strong enough get-out-the-vote operation, one state GOP strategist said.

"People have no idea how hard you have to work to shake the tree for every last vote," said Rob Catron, a political consultant who manages GOP campaigns in the Hampton Roads area. Republicans "still think, somehow, that Virginia is bulletproof when it comes to presidential elections."

Until McCain tapped Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, "there was absolutely no enthusiasm for McCain's candidacy," said McCain supporter Michael Farris. "People were resigned to vote for him, but that was it. There was no reaching out. No one asked us to do anything. In the last few weeks, people have asked us."

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