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1 Nov, 2008 18:21

Battleground Virginia holds keys to the White House

With the U.S. presidential election just around the corner, Democratic nominee Barack Obama remains ahead of his Republican rival, John McCain, according to the latest polls. The candidates are locked in a fierce tussle for Virginia, the outcome of which

During the American Civil War, a pivotal time in U.S. history, Virginia saw more battles fought than anywhere else and, thus, played a key part in the war’s outcome. This time around, Virginia has just 13 electoral votes and can’t be compared to big states like California with 55 votes, Texas with 32 votes or New York with 31 votes.
But Obama’s victory in Virginia or any one of the other three key states that voted Republican in 2004, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina, would leave McCain with virtually no chance of winning the presidential race.

Polls show that Virginia’s voters have not yet decided between Obama and McCain, which is why both candidates are putting so much effort into campaigning in the state.

Obama, who is a friend of the state’s governor, Tim Kane, has visited Virginia ten times since he won the Democratic presidential nomination. It’s been announced that he will end his campaign with a final rally at Manassas Park in the north of the state.

So Barack Obama and John McCain need to find as much support as possible. For Obama it’s likely to come from young people.

“Whether it’s the war, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s energy policy or foreign policy, I think that Barack Obama offers an alternative,” says Grant, an Obama activist.

For McCain they are elderly people like Robert Laird, whose pharmacy drew controversy for refusing to sell birth control or contraceptives. Laird became a local celebrity among Virginia’s anti-abortion Catholics.
“I like Senator McCain, he is a pro-life candidate. I say many times that if a candidate gets the life issue right, there’s a real good chance that they’ll get the rest of the issues right,” says Laird.

But whatever one’s stance on any given political issue, it is clear that Virginia, America’s historic battleground, will have a great influence on the election on November 4 and, not for the first time, on the future of America.