Republican presidential nominee John McCain has just five days left until Election Day and has decided to spend at least part of one of those days in Maine.
Maine GOP Chairman Mark Ellis made the an-nouncement on Wednesday while responding to Demo-cratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean’s visit to the University of Maine in Orono.
“The tax-and-spend plans touted by Chairman Dean in Maine today clearly outline Barack Obama’s proposals for massive new government spending and higher taxes — which will only further stifle our lagging economy and kill more jobs,” Ellis said. “John McCain will be in Maine before Election Day to talk directly to Maine vot-ers about his plans to lower our taxes, reduce wasteful government spending and get our economy back on track.”
The McCain campaign has not announced exactly when or where the senator will make his appearance.
“What a waste,” Bowdoin College political scientist Christian Potholm said late Wednesday. “I have no idea why [the campaign] would do this. I’m stupefied. I won-der what that tells us about other battleground states.”
Mark Brewer at the University of Maine was less sur-prised.
“There are certainly more important places for him to be,” he said. “But if McCain is going to win — and I think he still has a shot — he’s going to win in a squeaker. Any kind of McCain victory, he’s going to need every little vote.”
Although polls showed a relatively close presidential race in Maine in September, most recent surveys have Obama pulling away. A SurveyUSA poll conducted Oct. 19-20 had Obama leading McCain 54 percent to 39 per-cent, and a Research 2000 survey from Oct. 14-15 showed Obama with a 55-38 edge.
“Barack Obama built a strong campaign in Maine from the beginning, while the McCain campaign has been erratic about whether or not they even want to compete here,” Jessica Santillo, Obama’s Maine cam-paign communications director, said Wednesday. “In the final days leading up to the election, Mainers will con-tinue to work hard to elect Barack Obama and make real change happen for Maine and for America.”
With all the electoral votes out there, particularly in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida where the race is closer, Potholm wondered why McCain would focus on Maine and its four electoral votes.
“I’ve been surprised by 92 percent of McCain’s cam-paign, so I can’t say this surprises me,” Potholm said. “It certainly has an erratic quality.”
A homestretch visit to Maine by a Republican presi-dential candidate has precedence. George W. Bush vis-ited Bangor in late October 2004 and in September 2000. In both years, though, the Democrats carried Maine and its four electoral votes.
Potholm said the most likely stop for McCain would be Bangor, probably a similar airport hangar rally to the one Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin held earlier this month.
“It has to be in the 2nd District, so I can’t imagine anywhere else,” he said. “It also matters where he’s coming from. He’ll probably already be in New Hamp-shire, so a quick plane ride to Maine isn’t that big of a stretch.”