Obama to Make Fifth Visit to Montana Next Week

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Barack Obama plans to return to Montana next week, holding a campaign event in Billings the day before he is scheduled to accept the Democratic presidential nomination.

Wednesday’s trip will be Obama’s fifth to the state since his campaign began. His last visit came on the Fourth of July, when he attended a parade and picnic in Butte.

“It says a lot about Barack Obama and this campaign that he has already been here four times and this will be the fifth,” said Gov. Brian Schweitzer, an Obama supporter. “That means he’s taking every single vote in America serious and obviously thinking he can win in Montana, and I don’t disagree with him.”

Obama has made it clear that a chance at carrying Montana, traditionally a Republican state when it comes to presidential politics, is worth the time and money.

For a Democratic presidential candidate, Obama has devoted unprecedented attention to Montana. Besides his visits, the Obama campaign has opened several offices in the state, filled them with full-time staff and spent money on TV ads.

“This is in stark contrast to his opponent,” said Art Noonan, state party executive director. “Barack Obama has made a huge investment in this state since day one.”

Republican John McCain has yet to visit Montana this campaign season. The McCain campaign and state Republicans have said they are setting up joint volunteer offices around the state. And the McCain campaign has said the Republican could visit the state at some point.

McCain spokesman Tom Steward said Montana is indeed important to McCain and predicted voters will embrace the Republican.

“Montana is certainly a very important state to Senator McCain,” Steward said.

The Obama campaign wants to turn Montana into a battleground state, buoyed after a solid victory over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in the state primary.

It was not known if Obama’s yet-to-be-named vice presidential nominee will be at the Billings event. Details on where or when the event will occur have yet to be released.

After stopping in Billings, Obama is scheduled to head to Denver for the Democratic National Convention.

Montana is the last scheduled stop in a pre-convention tour of battleground states. He starts Saturday in Springfield, Ill., then goes to Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri before arriving in Billings.