Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail, Oct. 9th


Obama holds commanding advertising advantage as McCain goes all negative on the air ... Testimony: Palin uninvolved as husband got extraordinary access to governor aides in Alaska ... Already opposing Obama in ads, NRA formally endorses McCain's presidential bid ... As goes Scioto, so goes Ohio; economy heats up race in Ohio's presidential 'barometer'

Obama's ads have the bucks; McCain's have the bark

WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama spent $3.3 million in TV advertising on Monday. At that rate the Democrat will spend more than $90 million on ads through Election Day - more than all the money Republican rival John McCain has to spend on his entire fall campaign.

McCain's ad spending Monday totaled about $900,000 and the Republican National Committee weighed in with about $700,000 worth.

All whopping numbers, but the disparity between Obama and the Republicans is so wide that it has allowed Obama to spend in more states than McCain, to appear more frequently in key markets and to diversify his message by both attacking McCain and promoting his own personal story.

With national and state polls showing him building a broader lead over McCain, Obama has switched to a more positive pitch. Last week, only 34 percent of his ads attacked McCain directly while virtually all of McCain's ads attacked Obama, according to a study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Todd Palin had unusual access to wife's staff

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin remained in the dark while her husband repeatedly asked top state officials to help get his former brother-in-law kicked off the state police force, Palin's husband and top aides said in affidavits provided to The Associated Press.

Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, is the focus of a legislative investigation into whether she abused her authority by firing the state's public safety commissioner to settle a long-standing family dispute. The commissioner says he was fired after resisting pressure to fire Mike Wooten, a trooper involved in a bitter divorce with Palin's sister.

The investigation has been a distraction for John McCain's presidential campaign. Lawmakers were scheduled to meet Friday and release a report on the case, which could shed light on how Palin governs and what role her husband played in her administration.

The affidavits filed with investigators late Wednesday will probably help Palin's defense that the firing was not a tit-for-tat, but they also portray her as uninvolved while her husband met repeatedly with her aides about family affairs. That could provide fodder for her political opponents.

"I have heard criticism that I am too involved in my wife's administration," Todd Palin wrote in his affidavit. "My wife and I are very close. We are each other's best friend. I have helped her in her career the best I can, and she has helped me."

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National Rifle Association endorses McCain

WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Rifle Association is endorsing Republican presidential nominee John McCain despite differences with the Arizona senator on gun-show rules and campaign finance restrictions.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and the chairman of the NRA's political action committee planned stops Thursday in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada to talk about the move.

LaPierre said the two agree on many issues important to the group.

"He's cast more than 60 votes in the Senate in support of the Second Amendment," LaPierre said.

The NRA's Political Victory Fund has spent more than $2.3 million opposing Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The chairman of the political action committee, Chris W. Cox, says its spending in the presidential race will grow to "eight figures" by Election Day. Besides ads, encouraging battleground-state gun owners to vote will be a key focus, he said.

Economy heats race in Ohio 'barometer' county

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) - Waiting to get lunch at the Dari Creme's walk-up window, Denise Leport wore an Ohio State Buckeyes sweat shirt along with a frown as she considered this year's presidential candidates.

The economy, particularly bleak in this Appalachian city on the Ohio River, is high on her mind, and she expects to vote Democratic in hope of a change for the better. That's the kind of opening Barack Obama is trying capitalize on as he challenges Republican John McCain for Ohio - the swing state that narrowly clinched President Bush's re-election. In fact, no Republican has reached the White House without carrying Ohio.

Recent polling indicates that Obama, who will campaign in Portsmouth for the first time Thursday, has forged ahead in the state in a tight race. The national economic crisis surfaces as a leading issue in statewide voter surveys and in interviews with folks in a region that's already seen many years of hard times.


Barack Obama stops in the Ohio cities of Dayton, Cincinnati and Portsmouth.

Joe Biden campaigns in the Missouri cities of St. Joseph, Liberty and Jefferson City.


John McCain and Sarah Palin hold a town hall meeting inn Waukesha, Wis. McCain later holds an event in Mosinee, Wis., while Palin talks to voters in Wilmington, Ohio.


"I'm not into either one, really." - Denise Leport, an Ohio Democrat, speaking about the presidential candidates.


Roughly 666,000 new voters have registered in Ohio since the start of 2008, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. Ohio now has roughly 8.2 million registered voters.

Compiled by Ann Sanner.