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Obama, McCain Saturating Va. With TV Ads

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By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 5, 2008

RICHMOND -- Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are spending nearly $300,000 a day on local television advertising in Virginia, according to an independent analyst, with Obama far outspending McCain as they gear up for the final month of the presidential campaign.

With Democrats and Republicans agreeing that the contest is essentially tied in Virginia, the campaign for the commonwealth's 13 electoral votes is accelerating. The rivals also are blanketing the state with direct mail and other ads.

Obama, a senator from Illinois, has targeted Virginia relentlessly, believing it will be almost impossible for McCain, a senator from Arizona, to win the White House on Nov. 4 if he loses the historically conservative state.

Obama's strategy appears to be paying off, officials in both parties say. On Wednesday, McCain campaign officials announced that they are diverting more resources to Virginia, which last voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in 1964.

"We feel good, and we are doubling the size of the field staff and offices in Virginia . . . and that is a reflection of the energy and support we have seen in Virginia," said Mike DuHaime, McCain's political director.

But the closeness of the race in a state President Bush won by 262,000 votes four years ago alarms some Virginia Republicans, who concede that Obama is running a strong campaign.

Several recent polls show varying leads, ranging from a 9-percentage-point Obama advantage to a 3-point McCain edge.

"I think the seesaw is going to continue, and I just hope we are on top of the seesaw when the election rolls around," said Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (Prince William), chairman of the Virginia Republican Party.

Obama, Democrats say, has built one of the most aggressive campaigns in modern Virginia history and plans to use his organization on Election Day to try to spark a record turnout.

Yesterday, with a Navy ship as a backdrop, Obama drew thousands to a rally in Newport News on the banks of the James River, his second large event in Virginia in a week. His running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), was scheduled to make appearances today in Roanoke and Henrico County in suburban Richmond but canceled because of a serious illness in his family.

There are now about 60 Democratic offices open across the state, including Senate candidate Mark R. Warner's. They are staffed by thousands of volunteers and about 200 paid workers.

"This is absolutely the largest, most comprehensive, most aggressive presidential campaign I have ever seen in Virginia," Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee said.

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