Bush, Gore make final push on election eve

ORLANDO, Fla. - With the presidential contest still neck and neck a day before the nation votes, Al Gore and George W. Bush are making a final sustained push through battleground states.

Republican Bush promised ''a sprint to the finish,'' while Gore told audiences it's time ''to move your feet.''

Both candidates were emphasizing get-out-the-vote drives, hoping to energize their core supporters while also reaching out for still-undecided voters.

While both had full schedules Monday, Gore was taking election-eve campaigning a step further, going around the clock.

After a late-night rally in Milwaukee on Sunday, the vice president planned a dawn Monday campaign stop in Waterloo, Iowa. He was also campaigning in Missouri, Michigan and Florida before heading home to Tennessee on Tuesday to vote and await the returns.

Bush spent the night in Orlando after a five-city blitz through Florida, the most populous swing state. On Monday, the Texas governor was campaigning in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Iowa and Arkansas before returning to his home in Austin, Texas.

''This is a campaign that's going to sprint to the finish line,'' Bush told a late-night rally in Orlando on Sunday as he wrapped up his Florida tour alongside brother Jeb, the state's governor.

Florida is crucial to Bush's hopes of capturing the White House, but polls continue to show a close race. ''His people think they have the votes,'' said Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., who traveled with the Bushes throughout the day. ''I've never seen so much enthusiasm.''

The GOP presidential nominee drew large, enthusiastic crowds at each of his Florida stops.

Gore, meanwhile, planned to campaign his way right into Election Day, with the last event to be a dawn Tuesday gathering at a Tampa, Fla., coffee shop. He then returns to Carthage, Tenn., to vote and to Nashville to await returns.

''Tuesday is the day to move your feet to the polls,'' Gore told a rally in Philadelphia on Sunday evening. ''I'm asking not only for your vote, I'm asking for your enthusiasm.''

''I feel it coming I can hear it in your voices, I can see it in your faces, I can feel it in your enthusiasm. Come Tuesday, we're going to win Pennsylvania,'' he added. ''This is one of those elections that you're going to tell your grandchildren about.''

How important is last-minute campaigning?

In a close race, the final places you go can be crucial, said Bush's chief strategist, Karl Rove.

Bush's campaigning in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Arkansas ''gives us a shot in five very competitive states,'' Rove said in an interview.

Bush was not actually campaigning in Illinois on Monday, but the Iowa stop is in Davenport, across the Mississippi River from Illinois.

''Take a look at were Clinton and Gore were in 1992 and 1996. They went to places like Florida and Arizona and Nevada and Colorado, states that they took away from the other side,'' Rove said.

''Our object here is to focus on states where we've got a shot to win in a close-fought election where it's the other guy's turf,'' he added. ''We're fighting on Gore's 20-yard line. If you fight on the other guy's 20 long enough, you score.''

On Sunday, Gore cast his battle with Bush as a choice between ''two very different pathways,'' with the makeup of the Supreme Court and economic progress in the balance.

Hoping to regain the White House for the Republicans, Bush promoted tax cuts and Social Security reform while accusing Gore of practicing the ''politics of scaring people.''

Pre-election surveys suggested the battle could be the closest in generations, and indeed the Senate and the House were up for grabs too, with Republicans seeking to retain control.

National polls gave a narrow edge to Bush in the presidential race, but Gore's support in large battleground states made for an unpredictable race to 270 electoral votes and victory.


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