McCain 'gives up' on Colorado as Obama calls time-out to visit sick grandmother

Republican makes tough decisions as campaign also downgrades its chances in Iowa and New Mexico

John McCain's path to the presidency narrowed further yesterday with reports that he was giving up on Colorado, a day after a campaign blitz in the battleground state by his running mate, Sarah Palin.

The signs of retrenchment for McCain came on a day when Barack Obama was consumed by family concerns. The Democrat is to take a 36-hour break from the campaign tomorrow to visit his seriously ill grandmother in Hawaii.

The first reports that McCain had given up on Colorado were carried by CNN on Monday. "Gone," one adviser said. Other campaign officials, while denying they had given up on the state, told CNN they were lessening their reliance on a win in Colorado to take the White House.

The campaign was also downgrading its chances in Iowa and New Mexico.

The Republicans were hoping to hang on to all three states, which George Bush narrowly won in 2004.

But with McCain's limited resources against the fundraising juggernaut of the Obama campaign, the Republican has had to make tough decisions on which battlefields to defend.

Obama's lead in Colorado is a more modest 5 points, according to the RealClearPolitics poll average. But he has a huge advantage over the Republican in organisation, with 51 field offices in Colorado, compared with a dozen for McCain.

"The McCain campaign, having taken public financing, just can't play everywhere now. They don't have the resources to do that," said Bule Sewell, a former chair of the Colorado Democratic party.

Obama is also outspending McCain by $300,000 (£177,000) a week on advertising.

McCain's hopes of victory rest on holding on to Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri and Nevada - as well as taking Pennsylvania. But Obama is even or ahead of McCain in the first seven states and has a 12-point lead in the last.

Campaign officials yesterday tried to douse speculation McCain was pulling the plug on Colorado, where Democrats believe that the Republican could be swamped at the polls by the enthusiasm among younger voters and Latinos. However, such decisions are usually kept secret. Last month, McCain faced severe criticism for announcing he was pulling out of Michigan, another battleground.

Palin made three campaign stops on Monday in Colorado and McCain is due there on Friday. But the campaign has barely had any advertising presence on radio or television in the state.

"We see the race tightening both internally and in public polling," said Jill Hazelbaker, his national communications director. "We are within striking distance in the key battleground states we need to win."

Michelle Obama will take a turn as the Democratic headliner on Friday, while her husband is in Hawaii. She is to make campaign stops in Akron and Columbus, Ohio. Her husband is cancelling a rally in Iowa and Wisconsin to visit his grandmother.

Obama's absence is unlikely to hurt his campaign. In a campaign of this magnitude and duration, it is not clear how much personal appearances boost a candidate so close to polling day.

Obama could also get a sympathy boost for taking time out to visit his white grandmother, Madleyn Dunham, 85. It allows him to demonstrate a commitment to family. He was largely brought up by her.

His campaign released photographs of a young Obama with Dunham on his graduation from high school.

Contributor

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Obama a friend of terrorists, say McCain phone calls to voters

Democrats angered by automated messages labelling them 'too extreme for America'

Dan Glaister in Los Angeles

19, Oct, 2008 @11:01 PM

All eyes on Hillary Clinton as John McCain exploits divisions with Barack Obama

Clinton supporters' slowness to embrace Obama leads to fears that internal strife could upset election bid

Suzanne Goldenberg in Denver

25, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
US election: John McCain's campaign backing away from Colorado

John McCain's campaign downgrades its chances of victory in three states George Bush won in 2004

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington

21, Oct, 2008 @10:00 PM

Article image
John McCain tries to spoil the party

Republican candidate may reveal name of running mate in effort to steal limelight from Barack Obama

Suzanne Goldenberg and Ewen MacAskill in Denver

28, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
US election: Barack Obama and John McCain begin battle for women voters

John McCain and Sarah Palin hit the campaign trail for an epic fight for a newly identified swing constituency of working mothers

Ewen MacAskill and Suzanne Goldenberg in St Paul

05, Sep, 2008 @6:35 PM

Article image
Republican convention: McCain cuts Bush's time in the spotlight

President bumped as convention gets back on track after hurricane delay

Ewen MacAskill in St Paul

02, Sep, 2008 @11:01 PM

Damarys Ocaña: John McCain's lack of support among Latinos is remarkable

Damarys Ocaña: Four years ago, George Bush won an unprecedented 40% of the Latino vote. John McCain won't be so successful

Damarys Ocaña

24, Oct, 2008 @5:00 PM

Michael Tomasky: To get the momentum back, Obama must go after McCain

Michael Tomasky: The running mate selection provided a boost. But Democrats now have to accept that negative tactics work

Michael Tomasky in Denver

24, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

US elections: new poll puts Obama 14 points ahead of McCain

Opinion poll from the New York Times and CBS News sees Democratic senator widen lead over McCain

Ed Pilkington in New York

15, Oct, 2008 @1:53 AM

Community organisers stump McCain

Daniel Nasaw talks to volunteers with the Obama campaign during an impromptu cricket match

Daniel Nasaw in Morrisville, North Carolina

16, Oct, 2008 @11:01 PM