(CNN) – John McCain’s decision to pull out of Michigan prompted the state Republican Party chairman to issue a desperate plea Friday for donations to help fund political activities the presidential campaign would likely have shouldered.
“I won’t sugar coat it; the McCain Campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan is a tough blow,” Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, wrote in an email fundraising solicitation to Republicans. “But we cannot let it deter us.”
The latest CNN poll of Michigan voters, released late last month, suggested Obama was holding on to his edge over McCain in the fight for the state’s 17 electoral votes. Among likely voters, Obama held a 5 point lead, 51 percent to 46 percent; among the larger sample of registered voters, the lead was 7 points. Obama had a 4 point advantage in the previous CNN poll in Michigan, conducted at the beginning of September.
Michigan has voted for the Democratic candidate in the last four presidential contests, though John Kerry's winning margin there over President Bush in 2004 was just 3 points.
McCain aides acknowledged Thursday that the campaign was shifting resources and money out of Michigan and directing them to states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maine, among others. Anuzis said that McCain’s decision not to contest the state “leaves a tremendous hole in our ground campaign that we must now fill” in its fight for congressional, judicial, and state-level candidates.
In a note to supporters posted on the state party’s Web site, Anuzis disputed the McCain camp’s assessment of the Republican ticket’s chances in the state. The McCain campaign, he wrote, believes that “Other states ‘today’ offer a better opportunity for the campaign and they decided to shift their strategy. We do NOT agree.
“Michigan Republicans kicked into overdrive last night. We had a series of conference calls and meetings with activists and donors, coming up with our own plan on how to implement a ‘Michigan strategy’ for McCain and the rest of our ticket,” he said. “We will have a revised plan in effect by next week and are NOT conceding an inch to the Obama campaign or any Democrats in Michigan. This is a battleground state, the numbers always tighten up and we will bring the McCain campaign back to Michigan by our own efforts statewide.”