Barack Obama called for a “new politics for a new time” as he suggested his campaign was taking the moral high road to the White House today.
The Democratic presidential nominee, who leads Republican rival John McCain in national polls, said America was four days away from change and at a defining moment in its history.
Speaking at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, where he won the first-in-the-nation Democratic caucuses in January, Mr Obama predicted “more of the slash and burn, say anything, do anything politics” from the Republicans over the next four days.
The 47-year-old Illinois senator said taking the moral high road did not lead Mr McCain to the White House when he ran against Mr Bush in the 2000 election so “this time he decided to take a different route”.
“Make no mistake, we will respond swiftly and forcefully, with the truth, to whatever falsehoods they throw our way in these last four days,” he said.
“The stakes are too high to do anything less.”
But he said voters had a chance in this election to do more than “beat back” against this kind of politics.
“We have a chance to end it once and for all,” he said.
“Four days. After decades of broken politics in Washington, eight years of failed policies from George Bush, 21 months of a campaign that’s taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are four days away from bringing change to America.
“On the day of the Iowa caucus my faith in the American people was vindicated and what you started here in Iowa has swept the nation.
“A whole new way of doing democracy started here in Iowa and it’s all over the country now.”
In a bold move brimming with confidence, Mr Obama also broadened his advertising campaign into two once reliably Republican states – and even placed a commercial in Mr McCain’s home state of Arizona.
The Obama campaign launched new advertising campaigns in Georgia and North Dakota and campaign manager David Plouffe said the campaign would also begin airing ads in Arizona, which Mr McCain has represented in the US Congress for 26 years.
In a slew of states, “the dye is being cast as we speak,” Mr Plouffe said.
“Senator McCain, on election day, is not just going to have to carry the day, but carry it convincingly.”
One of the adverts ties Mr McCain to Mr Bush, showing a man adjusting a rear view mirror in a car as an announcer says: “Wonder where John McCain would take the economy? Look behind you, John McCain wants to continue George Bush’s economic policies.”
And the other relies on Mr Obama’s message of “unity over division” and reminds viewers that the Democrat has been endorsed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Mr Plouffe said that, in deference to Mr McCain, the campaign would only run the positive advert in Arizona.
“It’s Senator McCain’s home state,” he said.
“We’re cognisant of that.”
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said: “We encourage them to pick other states that we intend to win” to spend their money.
He added that the McCain campaign, with the help of the Republican National Committee, will close the advertising advantage that Mr Obama has enjoyed since the two party conventions this summer.
Mr Davis said the latest McCain advertising would exceed Mr Obama’s spending in the final days of the campaign.
“We’ve shaken off the effects of the financial collapse,” Mr Davis said, blaming the country’s financial crisis for Mr Obama’s lead in the polls.
The McCain campaign also launched their own advert in key states which highlighted how Mr Obama has praised the Republican for his stance on issues such as climate change and torture in the past.
Mr Obama responded at the Iowa rally, saying the US needed “more civility in Washington” and that he was “happy” to praise his opponents when he thought they had made the right decision.
Earlier, speaking at a rally in Hanoverton, Ohio – a must-win state for the Republican – Mr McCain said his rival “began his campaign in the liberal left lane of politics and has never left it”.
“He’s more liberal than a senator who calls himself a socialist,” he said, in a reference to Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has frequently campaigned for Mr McCain after dropping out of the presidential race earlier this year, said: “John McCain was right about the single most important decision that had to be made in the last four years and that was to stick it out in Iraq.”