U.S. Presidential Campaign Enters Final 24 Hours
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KWAME HOLMAN: The sun was just rising over Ohio as President Bush began a six-state, 19-hour campaign push at an airport in Wilmington.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: These are historic times, and there is a lot at stake in this election. The future safety and prosperity of this country are on the ballot. Ultimately though this election comes down to who do you trust? Who do you trust to make the tough decisions?
KWAME HOLMAN: The appeal of 20 electoral votes in Ohio, where Mr. Bush won in 2000, has brought him here six times in the past six days. Today pitcher Curt Schilling from the world champion Boston Red Sox joined the president on the stump.
CURT SCHILLING: I’m even more proud to be on a team with an even more important mission.
KWAME HOLMAN: From Ohio, the president traveled east to Pennsylvania, where he lost four years ago, but still has its 21 electoral votes in his sights. At the Post-Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown, President Bush targeted his economic message specifically to the voters of Pennsylvania.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The people of western Pennsylvania need to hear this message. I know this state depends on a healthy steel and coal economy, and we will keep taxes low, we will insist on free and fair trade, and we will make those industries strong so the Pennsylvania recovery keeps on creating jobs for the Pennsylvania people.
KWAME HOLMAN: By midday, the president was on the move again, flying from Pennsylvania to another tightly contested state, Wisconsin. Meanwhile, John Kerry was charting a different campaign route, beginning his day in Florida, which has 27 electoral votes. Sen. Kerry spoke for just five minutes on the tarmac at Orlando International Airport.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: So are you ready to take this thing and win and finish it off and get the job done? This is not a day or a moment for a long speech. You all know why you’re here, and you know the job that we have to get done in the next hours.
KWAME HOLMAN: Sen. Kerry then headed off to Wisconsin, there to battle the president for 11 electoral votes. At a rainy lunchtime rally in downtown Milwaukee, John Kerry stressed the importance of tomorrow’s vote.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Wet as you may be, cold as you may be, are you ready to move America in a new direction? Are you ready to put common sense back into the decisions that affect our lives? Are you ready to put America back to work? Are you ready for new leadership for this great nation of ours?
Well, you do your job in the next 24 hours and until 8:00 tomorrow night and I promise you, help is on the way. This is a kind of magical moment that we get to in the last hours of the most blessed gift on the face of the planet, our democracy, your vote. You get to choose and change the direction of this country.
And tomorrow… tomorrow, the choice of a lifetime is on that ballot. This is the most important election of our lives. And we need you… the hopes of a whole nation, the hopes of families that I’ve been privileged to meet all across our country are on the line and the hopes — you’re right — the hopes of the whole world are on the line tomorrow.
What we need for America and what the world is waiting for, what we need in Iraq, what we need on health care, what we need in our schools, what we need with our economy and jobs, what we need is a fresh start and new credibility for this country.
KWAME HOLMAN: Reporter: President Bush rallied his own Milwaukee supporters, who packed a local sports arena.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: If you believe that taxes should stay low so families can pay their bills and small businesses can create new jobs, I ask you to come stand with me. (Cheers and applause) If you believe in high standards for our public schools, I ask you to come stand with me. (Cheers and applause) If you believe that patients and doctors should be in charge of health care, I ask you to come stand with me. (Cheers and applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: From Wisconsin, the president headed off to his fourth state of the day, Iowa. At events in Sioux City and Des Moines, Mr. Bush tailored his appeal to undecided voters he hopes might help him take the state’s seven electoral votes.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: If you are a Democrat who believes your party has turned too far to the left this year, I ask you to come stand with me. If you are a minority citizen and you believe in free enterprise and good schools and the enduring values of family and faith, and if you are tired of your vote being taken for granted, I ask you to come stand with me.
KWAME HOLMAN: The vice presidential candidates also were busy on the campaign trail today. At a rally in Colorado Springs, Vice President Cheney attacked Sen. Kerry’s national security credentials.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: He’s trying every which way to cover up his record of weakness on national defense. But he can’t do it. It won’t work. As we like to say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on that pig, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig.
KWAME HOLMAN: John Edwards campaigned in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he made an election eve prediction.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: One thing I know for certain: If tomorrow you drive by the polls and there are long lines, and those lines are full of young people, John Kerry will be the next president of the United States.
KWAME HOLMAN: The president’s final day campaign plans take him to Albuquerque, New Mexico, this evening, and then on to Texas. There he’ll attend a late-night rally on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Sen. Kerry flew to an event this evening in Detroit, Michigan, then finally on to Ohio. There the senator planned to close his campaign in Cleveland at a rock concert with Bruce Springsteen.