- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign manager told donors Wednesday the candidate will need $39 million to compete in Florida and said battleground-state voter-registration numbers are a good sign for the Democratic nominee.

David Plouffe said in a Web video he would “open up the hood a little bit” to reveal a number that campaigns usually keep secret so he could underscore the “sheer magnitude” of the race between Mr. Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain.

He said the spending on Florida television and radio ads, turnout operations, staff, mailers and fliers and office space “is going to cost a little over $39 million, which is a big number.”

“It just lets you know why every dollar that you send us is so important,” he said. “We’re trying to leave nothing to chance.”

The video appeal came as a new CNN poll of the state showed Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain tied at 48 percent of the vote. However, the poll of 907 registered voters was a bit of an outlier - every other poll taken in Florida since Sept. 6, all of which surveyed likely voters, showed Mr. McCain leading by five to eight percentage points.

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The $39 million figure is nearly half the $84 million Mr. McCain will be allowed to spend in the entire country over the next seven weeks.

Mr. Obama had $77 million cash on hand at the end of August after raising a record $66 million that month.

President Bush won Florida in 2004 by about 380,000 votes. Mr. Plouffe detailed the more than 500,000 registered black voters and 900,000 registered young voters in Florida who did not go to the polls four years ago.

“We have enough base voters in Florida to win the election, if we can just turn them out,” he said.

He lauded “remarkable” voter-registration figures in Pennsylvania, where there has been a “net gain” of 375,000 Democrats. There have been smaller but noticeable gains in swing-state Nevada as well.

“That makes John McCain’s margin for error even smaller and gives us a better electorate,” Mr. Plouffe said.

In an e-mail accompanying the video, Mr. Plouffe tells supporters the details “haven’t been shared publicly before.”

“Our fight in the battleground states is going to be tougher than a lot of you may think,” he wrote, adding that to meet the $39 million Florida goal, the campaign is aiming for 50,000 new donors by midnight Friday.

Obama supporter Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida said the figure appeared to be in line with the general amounts needed to compete in the state, given its 11 different media markets.

Republican Gov. Charlie Crist spent nearly $20 million, a record, and was aided by $42 million from the Republican Party of Florida to win the governor’s race in 2006, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Mrs. Schultz predicted the margin would be “absolutely razor thin.”

“We’re a 50-50 state; our state is purple,” she said. “We’re trying to turn it blue.”

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