POLITICS
06/15/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Is Mapping a Nationwide Push in G.O.P. Strongholds

Senator Barack Obama's general election plan calls for broadening the electoral map by challenging Senator John McCain in typically Republican states -- from North Carolina to Missouri to Montana -- as Mr. Obama seeks to take advantage of voter turnout operations built in nearly 50 states in the long Democratic nomination battle, aides said.

On Monday, Mr. Obama will travel to North Carolina -- a state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 32 years -- to start a two-week tour of speeches, town hall forums and other appearances intended to highlight differences with Mr. McCain on the economy. From there, he heads to Missouri, which last voted for a Democrat in 1996. His first campaign swing after securing the Democratic presidential nomination last week was to Virginia, which last voted Democratic in 1964.

With Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton now having formally bowed out of the race and thrown her backing to him, Mr. Obama wants to define the faltering economy as the paramount issue facing the country, a task probably made easier by ever-rising gasoline prices and the sharp rise in unemployment the government reported on Friday. Mr. McCain, by contrast, has been emphasizing national security more than any other issue and has made clear that he would like to fight the election primarily on that ground.

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