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Politico: McCain to Abandon Michigan

At the very moment that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was hosting a McCain campaign conference call with reporters to hype Sen. John McCain’s chances for flipping Michigan from blue to red in November, Politico’s Jonathan Martin was readying this report:

John McCain is pulling out of Michigan, according to two Republicans, a stunning move a month away from Election Day that indicates the difficulty Republicans are having in finding blue states to put in play.

McCain will go off TV in Michigan, stop dropping mail there and send most of his staff to more competitive states.

Martin reports that the campaign has canceled an event in Plymouth, Mich., scheduled for next week. As my colleague Ari Melber reported, a rally featuring Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Detroit last week drew nearly 30,000 people.

If Martin is correct, the McCain campaign’s decision to abandon Michigan represents the acknowlegment of a real setback for the GOP presidential candidate. The campaign clearly viewed Michigan as one of its best chances of taking a major battleground state away from the Democrats.

To that end, it devoted significant time and resources to winning Michigan, which Sen. John Kerry won in 2004. For much of the summer, the GOP presidential nominee visited the state on an almost weekly basis

The move also demonstrates the McCain campaign is seriously re-evaluating its priorities as the race enters the home stretch.

Yesterday, veteran GOP operative Mike Murphy skewered the campaign’s top staff for wasting McCain’s increasingly valuable time in Iowa this week, where Obama holds a sizeable lead in the polls. While there, McCain engaged in what has come to be viewed as a disastrous interview with the liberal editorial board of The Des Moines Register.

Perhaps more important, the abandonment of Michigan greatly increases the pressure on McCain to win Ohio and Florida — both of which President George W. Bush carried in 2004 — and recent polling shows Obama is opening up leads in both states as well.

If Obama wins either state, it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine a realistic scenario in which McCain can win the election.

One thing is certain: the size of the electoral map appears to be growing in the wrong direction for the McCain campaign.

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