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Montana: Not a Battleground State?

By Beacon Staff

Former President Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama have already visited Kalispell. Now vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden is en route. Meanwhile, on the state level, GOP party officials are telling McCain that he needn’t worry about Montana since it’s not a battleground state. Really? That’s the party’s position? At least send back Mike Huckabee.

In a Thursday Associated Press story, U.S. Rep Denny Rehberg said Montana Republicans are encouraging McCain to focus his campaign efforts on other states since Barack Obama has little chance of wooing the majority of voters here. While I agree with the congressman – McCain should win Montana – I’m less optimistic that that will happen if he doesn’t try at all.

As the state GOP seems satisfied to shrug its way through the election season, Obama just opened up shop in Bigfork and Browning, adding to his glut of well-coordinated campaign offices. Oh, and he’s visited the state five times. His full-time staffers fill my inbox each day with e-mails, but nothing from McCain. In fact, Tim Fox, the Republican candidate for attorney general, is far more active than the presidential nominee.

What gives? Seriously? Is the GOP going to send any high-profile McCain surrogate to Montana? How about Kay Bailey Hutchison? Rudy Giuliani? Vice-presidential nominee and instant household name Sarah Palin? It continues to baffle me why McCain himself hasn’t visited, since the most recent Rasmussen poll showed the race was tied.

If, in the end, McCain doesn’t lose this state, it certainly won’t be due to any campaign effort on his part.