McCain giving up on Michigan?

MCCAIN GIVING UP ON MICHIGAN?…. With about a month until Election Day, the McCain campaign has found itself with some unwelcome and uncomfortable questions to consider. The Obama campaign is stretching the map, and putting plenty of “red” states — Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri — in play. McCain would love to play offensive, but with Obama’s poll numbers looking stronger, he has to start giving up on some “blue” targets.

And according to the Politico’s Jonathan Martin, McCain will no longer try to win Michigan.

John McCain is pulling out of Michigan, according to two Republicans, a stunning move a month away from Election Day that indicates the difficulty Republicans are having in finding blue states to put in play.

McCain will go off TV in Michigan, stop dropping mail there and send most of his staff to more competitive states, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. Wisconsin went for Kerry in 2004, Ohio and Florida for Bush.

McCain’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Republicans had been bullish on Michigan, hopeful that McCain’s past success in the state in the 2000 primary combined with voter dissatisfaction with Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and skepticism among blue-collar voters about Barack Obama could make it competitive…. But recent polls there have shown Obama extending what had been a small lead, with the economic crisis damaging an already sagging GOP brand in a state whose economy is in tatters.

A McCain event planned for next week in Plymouth, Michigan, has been canceled.

I’m sure the McCain campaign didn’t want to do this. They saw Michigan as a key pick-up opportunity, or at a minimum, a state they’d force Obama to work hard to keep Democratic. But Michigan wasn’t getting any better for McCain, and all of a sudden, he has to start thinking about those “red” states where Obama is surging.

In this sense, it’s a smart move for McCain to make. He’s wasted some time and money there, but he’s not in a strong enough position to keep fighting for a state he’s likely to lose, especially when states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina are moving quickly in Obama’s direction.

I suppose the next question is, how long until McCain gives up on Pennsylvania, too?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.