McCain pulling out of Michigan

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain is withdrawing staff and resources from Michigan in order to concentrate on other states where his prospects are stronger, a campaign aide said on Thursday.

McCain had harbored hopes of winning the state, but three polls in the last week has had Democrat Barack Obama with a double-digit lead in the Midwestern state, which has gone to the Democratic candidate the last two elections.

“Certainly, Michigan was going to be a challenge for any Republican in this climate,” said the McCain campaign official.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the McCain camp was happy to have spent enough time and money there to force Obama to defend the state.

McCain, an Arizona senator, had a lead in national opinion polls after his Republican nominating convention in early September but that lead has evaporated in the last two weeks.

McCain got himself into trouble for saying the fundamentals of the U.S. economy were strong, a statement that was proved wrong by the Wall Street financial crisis. He also was perceived by many Americans as having lost his first debate with Obama last week.

The McCain campaign official said staff and resources stationed in Michigan will be moved to other battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Reporting by Steve Holland, editing by David Alexander