McCain campaigns in Colorado despite lagging in polls

DENVER — John McCain and his aides are convinced their “Joe the Plumber” tax criticisms are narrowing the gap against Democratic rival Barack Obama, explaining why the Republican nominee is making three campaign stops in Colorado despite polls showing his opponent with a sizable lead.

McCain on Friday had a rally scheduled in Denver, a small-business forum in Colorado Springs and an event at a football field in Durango. The state voted for his fellow Republican, President Bush, in 2000 and 2004, but recent surveys have shown Obama with a 5 percentage point lead. The state awards nine of the 270 electoral votes needed to become president.

McCain this week cut back his spending on TV ads in Colorado to about $63,000 a day from about $83,000 a day last week. But the Republican National Committee stepped in with independent ads at a rate of about $36,000 a day, more than making up the difference, according to data from TNS/CMAG, a firm that tracks political advertising.

Obama is still outspending the combined McCain-RNC effort with a rate of about $120,000 a day in the state, according to TNS/CMAG.

McCain repeatedly hit Obama and the Bush administration throughout a 300-mile, 11-hour bus tour across Florida on Thursday.

It targeted blue-collar workers like the Ohio plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher. He’s become the central thematic element in speeches by McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, since accusing Obama of fostering tax plans that would keep him from buying the two-man company where he works.

From Daytona Beach on the Atlantic Coast to Sarasota on the Gulf Coast, McCain contrasted Obama’s plans with his own proposals to cut taxes for individuals and businesses. He stopped at a building materials supplier in Ormond Beach, a dentist in Altamonte Springs, a Puerto Rican restaurant in Orlando and a farm in Plant City famed for its homemade strawberry shortcake.

McCain started the day at a fairgrounds in Sarasota. He cited 15,000 new jobless claims and said, “Senator Obama’s tax increases would put even more people out of work.”

McCain also raised the specter of a Democratic White House on top of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

“You know, my friends, you got (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, you got a recipe for tax and spend, tax and spend, tax and spend,” he said.

From Colorado, McCain was traveling to New Mexico before heading east to Iowa. He is scheduled to appear Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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