Obama aims to put McCain on the run

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Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign manager says the team has crafted a strategy ensuring the Democrats won’t wake up Nov. 4 worrying that the presidential election hinges on the outcome in one swing state.

Instead, the Obama map would put presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain on the defensive in the Midwest, South and even Alaska.

“Our strategic orientation is to play offense,” said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. “We are going to have a lot of states in play.”

He said the campaign will spend the next four months attempting to register historic levels of new voters, boosting turnout and translating Obama enthusiasm into a Democratic “persuasion army” to convince swing-state voters in their neighborhoods not to vote for Mr. McCain.

Traditional battlegrounds Florida and Ohio remain key, but Mr. Plouffe said if Mr. Obama can hold on to the 252 electoral votes that Sen. John Kerry earned in 2004 against President Bush, he is in good shape to pick up a few more.

“We have a lot of different combinations to get to 270,” he said, citing the number needed to capture the White House. “Our strategic imperative is to get as deep into October as possible and keep those scenarios alive.”

The campaign is advertising in 18 battleground states, including the Republican strongholds of Alaska, North Dakota and Montana.

“There was not a head fake amongst them,” Mr. Plouffe told reporters Wednesday when presenting the map. “Every single state here we intend to compete in, and we think there’s a rationale for winning. Our goal is to keep this list intact. We want to move a couple of them into ‘Safe Obama.’”

The campaign starts with Iowa, a blue state in 2000 where Mr. Obama’s caucus victory in January launched his string of wins. Mr. McCain largely ignored the Hawkeye State this winter.

Virginia and North Carolina “weren’t part of the dialogue” in 2004 or 2000, and with a little bit of attention are tremendous pickup opportunities for the Democrats, Mr. Plouffe said.

“Win the Kerry states, win Iowa and we’re at 259. Win just Virginia and it’s game, set, match,” he said.

He said Mr. McCain will be “stretched very thin” trying to keep up with an expanded Obama map.

“We’re not going to be there in September and October going to the same four states all the time,” Mr. Plouffe said.

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant scoffed at the Plouffe assessment, saying it does not match reality.

“Obama wheezed across the finish line of his party’s nomination, losing the majority of primaries since March 4, including key general-election battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” Mr. Conant said, pointing to a poll showing the race a “dead heat.”

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About the Author

Christina Bellantoni

Christina Bellantoni is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She has been with The Times since 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign. Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with ...

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