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McCain stresses importance of No. VA

From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
SPRINGFIELD, Va -- During his second rally today in this battleground state, McCain passionately emphasized the importance of Fairfax County here in Northern Virginia to winning the election.

"I want to remind you again, Fairfax County is key to this election," McCain said. "You know that. You know how important it is for us to win here. You know how important it is that we put this country in the right direction. I need your help for the next three days. Everyone here I want to promise you I will I'll do nothing but inspire Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest."

Virginia hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. In 2000, President Bush beat Al Gore in this county by 6,000 votes. But in 2004, John Kerry won the rapidly changing county by 44,000 votes.

McCain's frequent sidekick and introducer, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, did his best to diminish Obama's chances of winning the Old Dominion.

"What's this garbage about Obama gonna win Virginia? What is that about," Graham asked. "Chicago's 705 miles [away]. It might as well be on the moon compared to Virginia. I know Virginia. Virginia believes in lower taxes. Virginians fight the wars. The Virginians want opportunity, not a handout."

At the event, McCain also made his most pointed attack on Obama about his comments yesterday in Iowa that his win in that state's January caucuses "vindicated" his faith in America.

"My country has never had to prove anything to me, my friends," McCain said. "I've always had faith in it, and I've been humbled and honored to serve it. If I'm elected president, I'll fight to shake up Washington and take America in a new direction from my first day in office until my last. I'm not afraid of the fight, and I'm ready for it, and you're gonna fight with me."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton fired off this statement in response to McCain: "It's pathetic that John McCain would take a statement Barack Obama has been making for a year about his faith in the American people and distort it to attack his patriotism. Sadly, this is what we've come to expect from a desperate, dishonorable campaign that will say anything in a failed attempt to win this election."