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Mr. Biden said coal states such as West Virginia could add thousands of jobs by developing the technology needed to help power plants worldwide burn coal more cleanly.

Barack and I believe clean coal is part of our energy future,” he said. “That’s why we supported adding $200 million in funding for carbon capture and sequestration technology. Instead of pouring our energy dollars into the sands of Saudi Arabia and the pockets of Venezuela, we should be exporting homemade technology - solving not only our own energy challenges, but the world’s.”

Mr. Obama, himself, left the campaign trail Friday to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.

Overall, Democrats have put Mr. McCain far more on the defensive. Other than Pennsylvania and possibly New Hampshire, he doesn’t have a good shot at flipping any state that voted Democratic in the last presidential election.

Meanwhile, pundits say Iowa is as good as lost to Republicans, while Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Montana are all in play.

Mr. McCain is also suffering from criticism from those in his own party who say he has squandered chances and is running on a convoluted message.

Adding to his troubles in places like Colorado is an influx of new voters who have boosted Democrats in state races in the past four years.

Chuck Gravelle, a Republican voter who was at Mr. McCain’s Denver rally, said having Mr. Elway’s backing will actually matter in the election.

Elway is just huge here,” he said, adding that if Mr. McCain wanted to close the deal, he should deploy California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to make a pitch to all the former Californians now living here: “All Schwarzenegger has to do is say Obama will spend like [former California Gov.] Gray Davis.”