RENO, Nev. - Democratic candidate Barack Obama began his closing argument for the presidency Saturday by asking voters to look to the future while Republican rival John McCain continued to attack Obama on taxes.
Obama, a senator from Illinois, unveiled a two-minute TV ad that asks, "Will our country be better off four years from now?"
"At this defining moment in our history, the question is not, 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?'" Obama says in the ad. "We all know the answer to that." Without mentioning McCain, the ad promotes Obama's economic policies while saying that Obama will work to end "mindless partisanship" and "divisiveness."
The length of the ad, which will start airing in key states Sunday, highlights Obama's fundraising superiority - most campaign commercials run 30 seconds or a minute.
McCain, a senator from Arizona, used his weekly radio address Saturday to attack Obama on taxes while again talking about Joe the Plumber, an Ohioan named Joe Wurzelbacher who has become the central thematic element in McCain's speeches.
"As he told Joe the Plumber back in Ohio, he wants to quote 'spread the wealth around,' " McCain said of Obama.
The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, released a TV ad Saturday questioning whether Obama has the experience to be president. The ad, 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."
Both campaigns focused on western states Saturday. Once reliable Republican territory, much of the West has seen its politics and demographics shift over the last decade. Three states considered still in play to varying degrees - Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico - could be vital if the electoral math gets tight.
Obama was resuming his campaign in Nevada on Saturday with rallies in Reno and Las Vegas before holding one at night in Albuquerque, N.M. The Democrat put aside political events on Thursday night and Friday to spend time with his grandmother in Hawaii, whom he described as gravely ill.
McCain, pivoting from his three stops in Colorado on Friday, will also be pushing hard in New Mexico on Saturday. He is holding rallies in Albuquerque and in Mesilla, farther south.
As the collapsing economy consumes voter attention, McCain has seized a line of attack that Obama is poised to deepen the problem by raising taxes. He said in Denver that Obama won't target the rich but rather the middle class by putting it "through the wringer."
Obama counters that he would lower taxes for most wage-earners and that McCain's tax plan favors wealthy corporations. He has tagged McCain as being out of time and ideas.
Polls show the path to the winning tally of 270 electoral votes is tricky for McCain, a Republican weighed down by the economic crisis and an unpopular incumbent president.
Obama, wary of overconfidence among his backers, is charting multiple winning paths.
That's where 19 electoral votes out West factor into the equation.
Nevada, with five votes, is posing the toughest challenge for Obama; the race is a tossup. Colorado is competitive, though Obama has a slight edge in polls in the state that offers nine votes. Obama is more deeply favored to win New Mexico's five votes.
President Bush carried all three states in 2004. Obama, the front-runner nationally with 11 days until the election, is focusing his time on plucking away states Bush won four years ago.
Obama could win the White House by hanging onto all the states that Sen. John Kerry won four years ago and then sweeping the three Western states getting attention this weekend.
McCain, though, has mounted comebacks before. Political momentum can change fast.
Part of the West's demographic change includes larger numbers of Hispanics, a traditionally Democratic-leaning group that has posed a challenge for McCain. The most recent Gallup poll showed Obama leading among registered Hispanic voters, 61 percent to 29 percent.
Michelle Obama delivered the Democrats' weekly radio address Saturday. In it, she urged voters to the polls while reminiscing about tagging along with her father as a young girl while he worked to register voters.