Crunch Time in the Battleground States

Todd and I, we’d be happy to get to Michigan and walk through those plants of the car manufacturers. We’d be so happy to get to speak to the people in Michigan who are hurting because the economy is hurting…I want to get back to Michigan, and I want to try." ~ Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate

As it always is in this stage of a presidential race, it’s all about the battleground states. Over a month ago, the Obama campaign pulled out of Georgia. They were acknowledging they didn’t have a chance to win the state, even though the Obama campaign continues to insist Georgia was “in play.” In addition, some polls still have Georgia as only leaning McCain. The resources tell the story.

Last week, the McCain campaign made a huge mistake in announcing they were pulling out of Michigan. As Karl Rove says, the best strategies are the ones you don’t know about until they’ve been implemented. There is too much telegraphing of changes in the McCain campaign, and the “Loving Obama” networks are happy to help out by portraying the McCain campaign as the “Bad News Bears” and the Obama Campaign as “Remember the Titans.”

There appeared to be no reason for the McCain campaign to give up Michigan. Get Gov. Romney out there, then drop in Sarah Palin and family. Follow it with a joint rally that includes Romney, Palin and McCain, and you can make a difference in Michigan. If money is an issue for McCain — and it is — he still needs to fight for every state he can possibly win. It’s time to pull out all the stops and go for broke — or at least all the family money you can spare.

While Georgia and New Jersey are now considered leaning McCain and leaning Obama, respectively, they both have 15 electoral votes. I can’t imagine a scenario in which they would both go to one candidate or another, so no matter what the outcome, they cancel each other out. West Virginia is leaning McCain as of now and will go to McCain.

Michigan is leaning Obama, but it could be competitive and would be a real coup for the McCain campaign. As the lottery promos say, you can’t win if you don’t play, and the McCain campaign isn’t playing in Michigan today. So that leaves us with Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida up for grabs, and McCain has to win every one to win the presidency.

It’s a tough fight, and that’s why you are seeing McCain on the offensive in a way we haven’t seen before. If this strategy works, McCain is a solid campaigner. If it doesn’t, he will join Rudy Giuliani in the “too little, too late” club.

While many would be discouraged at the painting of this picture, I am not. Remember 2000, when Bush has a commanding lead on Thursday — unbeatable, they said, against Al Gore. Then the 1970s drunken driving arrest was revealed and Bush didn’t respond. Al Gore ended up winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College. Three-fourths of those who made their mind up the last weekend decided for Al Gore. Think how differently the beginning of the first Bush term would have been had he had a mandate.

We need a mandate for John McCain, and it is still at least remotely possible. The Obama campaign knows that if he is not polling a good 10 points ahead of McCain on Election Day, it will be hard for him to win. Obama is a fascination that many people will say they will vote for, but some — when it comes down to it — will pull the lever for McCain instead. It’s cool to say you are an Obama supporter and McCain represents the status quo.

Change is a funny thing. For two years we have heard, “Change you can believe in.” Right now, that’s not the kind of change we need. We need the right change, change that will take the economic course in this country back to conservative principles of less government and lower taxes that would make our Founders proud.

Take a page out of Gov. Palin’s book. Last week, when she talked of personal responsibility, voters responded positively to her, Democrats and Republicans. We know we need to change our ways — but not make a new country — to get America back to the founding principles. So John McCain and Sarah Palin, get out there to battleground states and make your case with the gloves off.


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