For those still wondering whether Democrat Barack Obama will battle for Florida, consider this: He has spent more money on advertising in the state than in any other over the past two months, for a total of $5 million.
Republican John McCain's advertising budget in Florida so far: $0.
The findings by the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project reflect Obama's rapid build-up in a state he once shunned because its primary broke national party rules. Since Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination on June 3, his campaign has hired 200 people and opened 13 offices in Florida, with more to come.
His campaign on the air and the ground should quash speculation about whether he will give short shrift to a costly state that voted Republican in five of the last seven presidential elections.
''Barack Obama is committed to the state of Florida, and we continue to open offices statewide as we assemble the largest campaign team Florida has ever seen,'' Florida state director Steve Schale said this week.
Obama has run 7,000 ads on network television in the state, while Florida voters can see McCain ads only on cable. Obama is also on the air exclusively in Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, Montana and Alaska. Except for North Carolina, Democrat John Kerry did not advertise in those states in 2004 and lost them to President Bush.
''It is certainly worth noting that Obama is up in these red states and has the airways all to himself,'' said Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project, which analyzed data compiled by TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG. "That said, we won't really know if he's expanding the playing field until September.''
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