Barack Obama urged Americans to look to the future today as they make up their minds with just 10 days left in the race for the White House.
Back on the campaign trail in Nevada, following a two-day break to visit his gravely ill grandmother in Hawaii, Mr Obama’s campaign launched a two-minute TV advert which hailed a “defining moment in our history”.
Without mentioning his Republican rival John McCain, who is trailing in most national polls, Mr Obama highlighted the economic policies which led to his boost in the polls during the financial crisis engulfing the country.
The length of the advert, which will start airing in key states tomorrow, highlights Mr Obama’s fundraising superiority – most campaign commercials run for just 30 seconds or a minute.
The advert asks: “Will our country be better off four years from now?
Mr Obama says: “At this defining moment in our history, the question is not, ’Are you better off than you were four years ago?’
“We all know the answer to that.”
The advert adds that the 47-year-old Illinois senator will work to end “mindless partisanship” and “divisiveness”.
Mr Obama leads by almost eight points in the latest average of polls by RealClearPolitics.com but Obama campaign aides have urged caution and suggested that a wide margin in polls could lead to less Obama supporters voting on November 4.
Meanwhile, Mr McCain repeated his attacks on Mr Obama over taxes while again talking about Joe the Plumber, an Ohioan named Joe Wurzelbacher who has become the central thematic element in Mr McCain’s speeches.
“As he told Joe the Plumber back in Ohio, he wants to quote ’spread the wealth around’,” Mr McCain said of his Democratic rival.
The Republican National Committee also released a TV advert which questioned whether Mr Obama has the experience to be president.
The advert, featuring the image of a stormy ocean, says the nation is in “uncertain times” that could get worse and asks whether voters want a president “who’s untested at the helm”.
But frustrated Republicans have also voiced concern of Mr McCain’s repeated criticism of Mr Obama as harmful to the middle class.
As Mr McCain’s prospects dimmed, two Republicans openly took issue with the veteran senator’s handling of the race in separate interviews, little more than a week before election day.
“I would have done things differently the last few weeks,” Representative Paul Ryan told a newspaper in his home state of Wisconsin.
And former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the race would have been different in his state, which has 21 electoral votes, if Mr McCain had chosen him as running mate instead of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
“I think we’d be foolish not to admit it publicly,” he said, although he added that in selecting Mrs Palin, Mr McCain had made a bold choice.
Mr Ridge later released a written statement saying his remarks had been taken out of context and that he had often praised Mrs Palin.
At the same time, he added that the race in Florida would have been different if that state’s governor had been placed on the ticket, or similarly in Minnesota.
A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency – Florida has 27, Minnesota, 10, and Alaska, three.