Alaska might see Obama in person

Sean Cockerham | Tribune Media Services

Democrat Barack Obama could be coming to Alaska to campaign as part of his effort to win a state that hasn't chosen a Democrat for president since 1964.

"That is the plan -- we are pretty sure he's going to come at the end of the summer," said Kat Pustay, who was named Wednesday as Obama's Alaska director.

Obama is opening a campaign office in Anchorage with paid staff, although Pustay said she didn't know yet just how big the operation will be here.

"The campaign in Chicago is saying this is a battleground state so we're going to get resources," she said.

The last time Alaska voters favored a Democrat for president was Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater.

Crystal Benton, a national campaign spokeswoman for John McCain, said she's confident McCain will continue the tradition of Republican presidential success in Alaska.

Benton said there are no immediate plans for McCain to campaign in Alaska but his long-term schedule isn't set.

She said McCain doesn't expect to open a campaign office in Alaska but there could be a "victory office" in cooperation with the Republican National Committee. She said she would not rule out the possibility of McCain having paid staff here.

Benton said Alaska is "not in our top tier of target states" but it's a place where McCain's message will resonate.

"Alaska is a state where we intend to compete aggressively," Benton said.

Obama's national campaign manager, David Plouffe, was talking up his candidate's chances in Alaska to reporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. He said Obama is looking for multiple paths to victory and that could include mounting intensive precinct efforts in small-population states where McCain has fewer resources to compete, such as Alaska, according to McClatchy Newspapers.

Alaska is one of 18 states the Obama campaign chose to start running its first general election television ad last week. A Rasmussen Reports survey of 500 likely Alaska voters on June 16 found 45 percent favored McCain and 41 percent Obama, with the rest either unsure or planning to vote for a third party candidate.

Rasmussen gave the margin of error for the poll at 4 percentage points.

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