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Trail Mix 

by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & End of the Trail? & r & & r & We started this weekly column back on Jan. 3, and -- no surprise -- we've never been at a loss for material. And, it seems, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In that first installment, we quoted John McCain saying, "I know something about tailspins" as he sized up Mitt Romney's candidacy. All these months later, he could say the same thing about another campaign as we push through the final days before the election.

Never fear, we will continue to bring you Trail Mix for at least a month after the election -- or even longer if the fight goes on.

Political Geography

In the final days of the 2000 race, George W. Bush took a campaign trip to California. Subsequent reports showed that Karl Rove knew Bush would lose California, but the trip showed confidence that the race was going their way -- a vibe that helped push Bush over the top in the Electoral College.

Where candidates campaign says a lot, and in the final week the geography is looking brutal for John McCain. Campaign and media sources say McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, will spend their remaining days in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana and Pennsylvania. What do those states have in common? Except for Pennsylvania, George W. Bush won them all in 2004. By spending their time there, it's clear McCain is on defense. If you want further proof that Barack Obama appears to be at the 10-yard line, consider that earlier this week, the Republican National Committee had to pay for new advertising in Montana to keep it from turning blue.

Early Warning

Early voting has proven popular, according to research by Michael McDonald, a professor at Virginia's George Mason University. As of one week before Election Day, roughly a third of all votes expected had already been cast in Georgia, Colorado, Florida and Nevada.

Sir Governor?

Former NBA star Charles Barkley plans to run for governor of his home state of Alabama -- as a Democrat -- in 2014. "I can't screw up Alabama," he told CNN. "We are number 48 in everything, and Arkansas and Mississippi aren't going anywhere."

Now that's a straight-talk express any reporter would love to ride along with.
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