Kansas City, MO – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is making big efforts to win over traditional Republicans in Missouri, but he must fight to make conservative voters feel comfortable with his non-traditional background, said political commentators speaking with Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up to Date
"In Missouri, McCain still has an edge. The polls show that. Missouri is a Midwest state, it's fairly conservative, and it's going to take a lot for the state as a whole to embrace Barack Obama," said Barb Shelly of the Kansas City Star newspaper.
Obama's campaign recently opened 23 new campaign offices in rural Missouri. Earlier this week he visited several small towns in the southern part of the state.
"One of the most impressive pieces of political news recently was [Obama's] anouncement of the number of field representatives they were going to put into rural areas... [Obama] is going to fight in the rural areas. Not because he's going to win there, but because he wants to cut into the Republican vote," said Fred Logan of KCTV in Kansas City.
"If he can pick up five, six, seven points in [rural Missouri], he can win Missouri," Logan added.
The Obama campaign's major focus on field organizing is partially a reflection of Democrats' realization that they should not give up on traditional Republican strongholds when fighting to win new voters, Shelly said.
In order to win Missouri, Republican John McCain must "cut through" Obama's message of hope and change and address policy issues on which he differs from his rival, according to Logan.
"Some of Obama's views on the issues are not going to play well in rural Missouri," Logan said. Gun rights, for example, are a key issue with conservative Missouri voters. Obama has recently softened his position on guns, Logan said.
"The McCain people might be secretly happy that Obama is investing so much time and money in this state when they think they have a definite advantage going in," Logan added.