Obama-McCain race enters final stretch

LAS VEGAS – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama looked to pick up three red states on the final Saturday of the campaign, while Republican John McCain defended GOP turf before taking a break to appear on “Saturday Night Live.”

The candidates’ travel plans heading into the campaign’s final weekend had them almost completely focused on states that President Bush won in 2004.

“We are four days away from changing the United States of America,” Obama told voters Friday night in Indiana, one of about a half-dozen Republican states that remains up for grabs late this election season.

McCain’s campaign argued the Arizona senator was closing the gap in the final days and he was closer than reflected in public polling. Privately, McCain’s aides said he trailed Obama by four points nationwide in internal polling.

“We’re closing, my friends, and we’re going to win in Ohio,” McCain said during a stop in the state Friday. “We’re a few points down but we’re coming back and we’re coming back strong.”

An Associated Press-Yahoo News poll of likely voters put Obama ahead, 51 to 43, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. But one in seven voters, 14 percent of the total – said they were undecided or might yet change their minds.

The candidates focused on winning over the undecideds and encouraging their supporters to get to the polls.

Obama planned final get-out-the-vote rallies in Nevada, Colorado and Missouri for Saturday. He was scheduled to campaign in Ohio all day Sunday, including a Cleveland rally with singer Bruce Springsteen, then hit Virginia and Florida on election eve.

McCain had eight states on his final three-day itinerary besides the detour to New York City for “Saturday Night Live,” hosted by Obama supporter Ben Affleck. Monday’s schedule called for him to visit several states, ending with a midnight rally in Arizona where Obama was running television ads.

“We want to win everywhere,” Obama said of his decision to air the commercials in his opponent’s state.



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