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Republicans Grow More Hopeful About McCain


Republicans who support Senator John McCain for president are growing increasingly confident that their candidate is gaining momentum in his race for the White House with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.

2008 was supposed to be a Democratic year. Opinion polls have shown growing voter concerns about the U.S. economy, general unhappiness with President Bush and a desire for change.

Despite those Democratic advantages, surveys also show the presidential race between Senators Obama and McCain to be very close.

The McCain campaign raised $27 million in July, the largest single month total since the Arizona senator effectively clinched his party's nomination earlier this year.

Republicans hope that is a sign that McCain can compete with Senator Obama in fundraising. Obama's campaign has set new records in campaign fundraising this year.

Republicans will formally nominate McCain as their presidential candidate the first week in September in Minnesota, one week after the Democrats do the same for Senator Obama in Colorado.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told reporters in a conference call that Republicans are unifying behind their candidate in advance of their convention.

"We enter our period of time before our convention in a very strong position," he said. "Every public survey we have seen indicates that we have effectively consolidated the base around John McCain. We have a higher intensity of support around our Republican base than the Democrats have around theirs."

Most experts believe Democratic voters are more enthusiastic this year, helping to fuel Obama's successful underdog primary campaign against rival Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Pew Research Center pollster Andrew Kohut says young voters were a key factor in Obama's ability to overtake Clinton during the caucuses and primaries.

"Young people throughout the primaries and caucuses were overwhelmingly on Obama's side over Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic candidates," he said. "And in the polls so far in the general election, there is a huge age gap with younger people backing Obama by double-digits and older people, people over 50 and people over 65 for sure, supporting Senator McCain."

But political experts also caution that young voters historically are less likely to show up at the polls on Election Day than older voters.

Senator McCain had the campaign much to himself over the past week since Senator Obama was on vacation in Hawaii. McCain spent a lot of time talking about the crisis in Georgia and took an aggressive line toward Russia. Obama was also critical of Russia's role in the conflict, but was largely out of view for the week.

Both candidates will spend the next several days preparing for two upcoming major events-the announcement of their vice presidential running mates and their national party nominating conventions.

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