(SARASOTA, FLA.) - Barack Obama is "playing offense" in key red states and, according to campaign aides, a strategy now appears to be trickling into some Republican strongholds. The latest polls in both Arizona and Georgia show Obama closing in on John McCain's lead.
According to the latest CNN/Time poll, McCain leads Obama in his home state by just 7% while, on the flip side, Obama has a 17% lead on McCain in Illinois, according to a Rasmussen poll released two weeks ago.
Today, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds dismissed Obama's recent boost in Arizona saying, "There is no credible reason for anyone to believe that Barack Obama could win an election in Arizona –none," Bounds said, " Voters there don't like taxes, don't like burdensome government programs and don't like phonies - which is why they've elected John McCain every time he's ever run for office."
Meantime, the same trend is taking place in Georgia, where McCain leads Obama by only 5%. To put this in perspective, Bush won the state by 16% in 2004.
So what does this mean for Obama's strategy in the final stretch of the campaign? "We're trying to expand the map," Obama campaign senior strategist Robert Gibbs said today. "In a place whether it's Colorado, whether it's Nevada, whether it's in the Midwest or the Southeast."
But when asked if Obama plans to campaign in McCain's home state, Gibbs stopped shy of ruling a visit out.
"I haven't heard or seen anything. I know obviously we've seen a number of public polls as you guys have in the past few days that show – not surprisingly – a close race in Arizona and it's something that we'll watch," he said.
Obama's camp is, however, recruiting volunteers Arizona in an effort to close the gap there, reports CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder.
In the meantime, Obama will continue to target Republican counties in battleground states as he tries to generate a larger turnout among Democrats. "There are Democrats that will normally participate in a state election that will not for some reason vote in a presidential election – there's that fall off or drop of vote that we want to get excited," Gibbs explained.