In-depth coverage of the candidates and the issues, all leading up to the Aug. 5 primary and the Nov. 4 general election.
Reno, Nev. — Scrambling to win the West, Democrat Barack Obama mocked John McCain on Saturday for aggressively trying to distance himself from President Bush. McCain touted his Western ties and warned that Obama is a tax-and-spend threat to the nation.
The financially flush Obama campaign also unveiled a two-minute TV ad that asks, "Will our country be better off four years from now?" The length of the ad, which will air in key states, highlights Obama's fundraising superiority - most campaign commercials run 30 seconds or a minute.
Obama continued to ridicule McCain for distancing himself from the president.
"John McCain attacking George Bush for his out-of-hand economic policy is like Dick Cheney attacking George Bush for his go-it-alone foreign policy," Obama said. Later in the day, Obama put McCain's criticism of Bush this way: "It's like Robin getting mad at Batman."
Ten days before the election, both candidates were targeting the same trio of states - Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. Any of them could help shape who wins the presidency.
The flurry of appearances by Obama and McCain likely represent the last time in a long, testy campaign that the toss-up territory of the West will get this much attention. Electoral prizes like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, will soon take the spotlight.
Obama said it was too late for McCain to portray himself as independent from Bush after standing with him for years. McCain has a mixed record of supporting and bucking Bush.
Real change, Obama said, is "not somebody who's trying to break with his president over the last 10 days after having supported him for the last eight years."
As the front-running Obama campaigned at a baseball stadium, McCain was at an outdoor rally at the New Mexico state fairgrounds in Albuquerque. The Arizona Republican claimed he had the edge in battleground states in the region, calling himself "a fellow Westerner."
"Sen. Obama has never been south of the border," said McCain, arguing that he has a feel for issues like water that resonate throughout the region. Obama's campaign said Obama has, in fact, been to Mexico before he got into public office.
Later, in Mesilla, N.M., McCain said he had a home-court advantage in the West.
"I know the issues, I know land, I know water, I know native American issues," said McCain, speaking at a sun-splashed rally. "I know how western states are growing with dynamic strength. Senator Obama does not understand these issues."
McCain continued to portray Obama, an Illinois senator, as a tax-and-spend liberal certain to push for more government and higher spending.
"He believes in redistributing wealth," McCain said. "That's not America."
The West, once reliable Republican territory, has seen its politics and demographics shift over the last decade. Bush narrowly won Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico four years ago and Democrats see those states and their 19 electoral votes as a real opportunity.
Obama resumed his campaign in Nevada after spending Thursday night and Friday in Hawaii with his grandmother, who is gravely ill.