(CNN) – As the Republican campaign to take advantage of fresh reports of friction between the Clinton and Obama camps shifts into high gear, John McCain released his second ad in two days aimed at wooing the New York senator's disappointed supporters.
The new spot stars the Democratic convention delegate who lost her slot two months ago when she said publicly she'd vote for McCain, not presumptive nominee Barack Obama. After the party's decision, McCain asked Debra Bartoshevich to join him on the Straight Talk Express during a campaign visit to her home state of Wisconsin.
"I'm a proud Hillary Clinton Democrat," says Bartoshevich, a nurse, in the 30-second spot. "She had the experience and judgment to be president. Now, in a first for me, I'm supporting a Republican, John McCain.
"A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It's okay, really!"
The TV ads, and the campaign's "Citizens for McCain" outreach initiative to former Clinton supporters, are being joined this week by efforts on the ground, as senior advisor Carly Fiorina and other top McCain officials head to Denver to recruit these disaffected Democrats. The Republican National Committee – which has opened a temporary war room in Denver – has made it clear the effort is a convention priority. "Typically when parties are split, the other one wins," RNC Chairman Mike Duncan told reporters.
Bartoshevich is among a small group of self-described Clinton-turned-McCain voters who've traveled to Denver this week and organized a kind of parallel counter-convention, with daily press conferences, protests, and movie screenings.
Sunday evening, a few dozen gathered in a former garage-turned-café a few minutes and light-years away from downtown Denver for the premiere of a new anti-Obama documentary, "The Audacity of Democracy." Participants included PUMA founder Will Bower – part of a pro-Clinton group that visited McCain headquarters shortly after she conceded in June – and Andy Martin, a conservative activist and author of an anti-Obama book who has been credited by supporters of the Democrat's campaign as the original source of the false rumor that he is a Muslim.
Nearly all of those interviewed said they planned to vote for the Republican ticket in the fall. Some insisted Clinton might still stage a convention floor coup and win the nomination Wednesday; others said they believed McCain might tap her as VP of a unity ticket
Reports that Clinton was planning to ask her delegates to support Obama were greeted by some there with angry disbelief. "Have you heard it from her mouth? Have you? Have you? Did her campaign say it on the record?" demanded a woman in a black pro-Hillary t-shirt. "Yeah, I didn't think so," she said, and walked away.
Others expressed hope that McCain might tap her as his running mate on a new "unity ticket." "We went to mass and prayed for it," said Toni Leigh of Taos, New Mexico. "They would make a great team."
Monday morning, Bartoshevich herself – along with a few other minor celebrities of the "PUMA" movement – is slated to hold an RNC-sponsored press conference plugging the Arizona senator's presidential bid.