By Marlene H. Phillips and Dawn Teo
For the first time in this presidential election, Barack Obama has aired not one but two prime time ads in my state. Am I in Virginia? North Carolina? Florida or Ohio? Nope. I'm in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, in John McCain's backyard. Arizona is now the hottest story of this blazing hot presidential election. On Friday night, after Barack Obama launched two prime time ads on Arizona television, two of MSNBC's highest ranking shows, Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show, spent extensive time discussing Arizona's most recent polls, all of which show McCain's home state as a statistical tie.
In response to his dropping poll numbers John McCain has been forced to spend time and money defending his home turf. His campaign has unleashed a robo-call assault across Arizona, bombarding Republicans and Independents with calls that warn of a 'dangerous' Barack Obama. In northern Arizona, The (Prescott) Daily Courier reported this morning that John McCain was also stepping up his home-turf efforts with a personal visit to Prescott Monday night at 9:00 PM. After the article was released, however, the McCain's campaign then spent the day in seeming confusion over whether or not McCain was indeed scheduled for an appearance in Prescott. After much back and forth with Arizona reporters, the campaign finally confirmed that McCain will indeed make an appearance in Prescott at 11:00 AM on Monday at the Yavapai County Courthouse. This may be more of a symbolic appearance for John McCain, as this is also the spot where he wrapped up his Senatorial campaigns.
Barack Obama sees an opportunity to pick up a higly significant, and highly symbolic, victory, and his campaign is pouncing. In addition to the ads now airing in the Grand Canyon state, Obama's campaign sent an email to Obama Arizona supporters today with this opening salvo:
"I'm writing to report that we're seeing a surge of support in states we didn't expect to be close contests, including Georgia and North Dakota.
But the latest battleground is a major opportunity:
John McCain's home state of Arizona -- where we go on the air today."
According to Obama national spokesperson Shannon Gilson, the televised ad now running in Arizona is characterized as Obama's "closing argument" that envisions his "positive message" of change.View the ad: In addition to the Obama Arizona blitz, the Arizona Democratic Party took a fairly direct hit at their senior senator in their most recent press release, the first press release from the Arizona Democratic Party to focus on John McCain in more than a month:
"Questions are emerging about John McCain's personal benefits from the industry he regulates to personally benefit him as parallels to the conviction of his colleague, Sen. Ted Stevens.
For nearly two years, McCain's camp sought special treatment from the telecommunications industry that he regulates. His wife pushed hard to have the companies put permanent cell phone towers on the family's land in Cornville, according to the Washington Post.
"This case shows that McCain will take care of himself and his friends - but ignore the people he was elected to represent," said Maria Weeg, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party. "On so many issues that affected Arizonans, McCain ignored us. But he had enough time to lobby the companies he regulates, and to help his donor friends. That's a shame." "
There's even more good news for Obama supporters in this traditionally red state; it seems Obama may be facing a unique problem across Arizona, one the McCain campaign wish they shared - too many volunteers: In Tucson, the Northwest Democratic Office is launching three satellite offices which will operate from now until election day to handle the surge in Get Out The Vote volunteers. Volunteers in Tempe, home of the largest university in North America, reported being dispatched to satellite offices around Maricopa County because every available phone banking slot was full. Democratic Party spokesperson Emily DeRose said hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of volunteers are indeed filling their offices to capacity, but DeRose added an emphatic statement, saying they need every available volunteer and every hour given will be very valuable in this year's close election -- for candidates at every level.
DeRose said that the Democratic Party is pushing hard to increase capacity due to the polls released this week showing the presidential race as a statistical dead heat and the race in Arizona's third Congressional district also as a close race,
We are aggressively trying to raise additional late GOTV money to buy cell phones and rent canvass vans to increase our capacity to call voters and knock on doors. We anticipated a late surge of volunteers, but there are even more than we expected, and we could use even more.
Amy Hamblin of the Arizona Call Team sent out a request for phone banking volunteers to help get the Obama-Biden ticket to 270 electoral votes:
We start by trying to win all the states that went to John Kerry in 2004, including swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. From there, we take back the two states, Iowa and New Mexico, that Al Gore won in 2000 but swung over to George Bush in 2004. With those states in our column, all we need is one more swing state, like Nevada, Colorado, Ohio or Florida to name a few.
Obama's Arizona Call Team announced a goal on Wednesday to call 11,000 people in the battleground states listed above. As of Friday afternoon, they had called 4,000.
As of the Friday before election day, 17% of the electorate in Arizona had already cast their votes. The results are telling. Among early voters in Arizona, Obama is up by 12 points. Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos called that a big number. "On election day, people might get tired of waiting in line, or have to go back to work, and not vote. But those early voters? That's money in the bank." And, Paleologos concluded, "Obama's banking it big."
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