More big political names head to Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

More big political names head to Nevada

MARTIN GRIFFITH

RENO – With early voting under way in the president’s race, more big names will search for swing votes this week in the battleground state of Nevada.

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry both campaigned in the state last week. No further visits were scheduled as of Saturday, but campaign aides said that could change.

The Bush campaign plans to send the president’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, and sister, Dorothy Bush Koch, to Henderson on Monday, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson to Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The Kerry campaign plans to have running mate John Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, in Carson City and Elko today; Kerry’s brother, Cam, in Reno on Monday; and Sen. Edward Kennedy’s son, Ted Jr., in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“We like where we are at at this point in the race,” Bush spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said. “We’ve always expected a close election.”

Nevada is receiving unprecedented attention from the candidates as recent polls show the race about even for the state’s five electoral votes. Voter registration is almost evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans.

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“The race is as tight as ever,” Kerry spokesman Sean Smith said. “It’s going to be close all the way until the very end. It’s down to eight states and Nevada is one of them.”

Elizabeth Edwards is taking part in a one-day blitz of all 17 Nevada counties today by Kerry surrogates and top Democratic elected officials.

Among others scheduled to join at rallies and public events in every county are actress Alyssa Milano, singer Toni Tennile and former President Jimmy Carter’s son, Jack.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., also will participate.

Bush’s daughters and sister will attend a “W Stands for Women” event Monday along with Nevada first lady Dema Guinn, Bush domestic policy adviser Margaret Spellings, Federal Aviation Administration administrator Marion Blakey and Nancy Brinker, former ambassador to Hungary.

Last week, Bush paid his fourth visit of the year to the state, while Kerry made his fifth stop of the year in Las Vegas.

In 2000, Bush narrowly carried the state, 49.5 percent to 46 percent.

Early voting began Saturday across the state, with 10 Democrats camping out overnight to be the first in line when the Washoe County registrar’s office opened.

Anne Lewis, former White House communications director, attended a Democratic rally Saturday in Reno to kick off the early voting.

Election officials anticipate that by the time the Nov. 2 elections are held hundreds of thousands of Nevadans already will have cast early or absentee ballots.