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As Campaigns Enter Last Day, Candidates Give Final Messages

November 3, 2008 at 6:10 PM EDT
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Presidential hopefuls Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., delivered closing arguments Monday in closely contested states such as Ohio. Judy Woodruff reports on their final efforts.

JIM LEHRER: And then there was one, only one day left in the presidential campaign. Judy Woodruff has our last-day report.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Election Day only hours away, Barack Obama and John McCain burned up the trail today with a final push across battleground states. Obama held his first rally in Jacksonville, Fl., and had two more stops planned in North Carolina and Virginia.

At the Florida event, Obama praised McCain’s service, but insisted the Republican nominee still had the wrong approach on the economy.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: Now, Sen. McCain has served this country honorably. And at the end of this long race, I want to congratulate him on the tough race that he has fought.

He can point to a few moments over the past eight years where he has broken from George W. Bush. But when it comes to the economy, when it comes to the central issue of this election, the plain truth is that John McCain has stood with George Bush every step of the way.

He hasn’t been a maverick; he’s been a sidekick to George Bush.

Voting for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that he once said were irresponsible, voting for the Bush budgets that took us from record surpluses to record debt, calling for less regulation at a time when we needed more regulation, called for less regulation 21 times just this year. Those are the facts.

And after 21 months and three debates, John McCain still has not been able to tell you, the American people, a single major thing he’d do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Obama closed by asking the crowd not to let up.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Don’t believe for a minute that power will concede anything without a fight. This is going to be close here in Florida. This is going to be close all across the country.

We’re going to have to work like our futures depend on it for the next 24 hours, because it does.

Understand, at this point, I’ve made the arguments. Now it’s about who wants it more, who believes in it more.

Florida, the time for change has come. It all is up to you. We have a righteous wind at our backs, but if in these final hours you will knock on some doors with me, make some calls with me, go to vote, if you’ll stand with me, and fight with me, I promise you we will not just win Florida, we’ll win this election. You and I together will change this country. We’ll change the world.

Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.

McCain visits seven states

JUDY WOODRUFF: Like Obama, McCain started the day in Florida, with a morning rally in Tampa. From there, plans were to barnstorm six more states: Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, and, finally, his home, Arizona.

In Florida, McCain repeated his familiar charge against Obama's tax plan.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: Sen. Obama is running to spread the wealth; I'm running to create more wealth.

Sen. Obama is running to punish the successful; I'm running to make everyone successful.

This is the fundamental difference between Senator Obama and me. We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is, he thinks that taxes are too low, and I think that spending has been too high.

JUDY WOODRUFF: McCain summed up with where he saw the race with a day to go.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: You know, my friends, the pundits may not know it and the Democrats may not know it, but the Mac is back. We're going to win this election.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: My friends, my friends, I know you're worried, but you also know America is a great country. But we're at a moment of national crisis that will determine our future.

And let me ask you: Will we continue to lead world's economies or will we be overtaken? Will the world become safer or more dangerous? Will our military remain the strongest in the world? And will our children and grandchildren's future be brighter than ours?

My answer to you is yes. Yes, we will lead. Yes, we will prosper. Yes, we will be safer. Yes, we will pass on to our children a stronger, better country.

But we must be prepared to act swiftly, boldly, with courage and wisdom. I'm an American, and I choose to fight.

Don't give up hope. Be strong. Have courage and fight. Fight for a new direction for our country and for what's right for America. Fight to clean up the mess of corruption, and in-fighting, and selfishness in Washington.

Fight to get our economy out of the ditch and back in the lead. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Fight for our children's future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up. Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up. Stand up. Stand up and fight. America is worth fighting for.

Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

Biden focuses on economy

JUDY WOODRUFF: Both vice presidential nominees also carried heavy campaign schedules today. Democrat Joe Biden started the day in Lee's Summit, Missouri, outside Kansas City, where he was joined by Sen. Claire McCaskill.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), Delaware: Today in America, people are asking, no matter where it is, the same questions. They are simple -- as simple as they are profound.

Is my house worth what I paid for it or do I now have an upside-down mortgage where I owe more than it's worth? Will my company continue my health care? As matter of fact, are the rumors about my company going abroad true?

How are we going to be able to retire, now that our 401(k) has been cleared out and all that equity in our home we counted on seems to be gone? Will we be able to send our kids back, let alone in the first place, back to college?

Conversations are taking place. You students, you're asking yourselves questions. Some of you are going to be graduating from here and going on to four-year schools. You're finding it hard to go out there and borrow that money. You're finding it difficult.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, the questions are profound, but they're everywhere.

Claire, this is the first election, presidential election I've campaigned in where, whether I was in Montana or Florida, whether I'm in Missouri or Maine, whether I'm in Texas or I am in New Jersey, the questions are the same.

It is the most uniformly -- how can I say it -- intense election I've ever, ever been a part of.

And, ladies and gentlemen, and that's why I believe, with a greater degree of confidence than I've ever had before, that we are on the cusp on a new brand of American leadership, because that's what we need, a new brand of American leadership.

Because, folks, if we want to answer all those questions being raised around that kitchen table, we need to get out and elect Barack Obama president of the United States tomorrow.

Palin emphasizes leadership

JUDY WOODRUFF: Biden had three more events planned today, two in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania. Republican Sarah Palin began her day in Lakewood, Ohio, near Cleveland, where she said the differences between the candidates were stark.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), Alaska: We believe that the best of America isn't all in gathered in Washington, D.C. We our put faith in you, and we know that the best of America is here. It's in the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday, hardworking Americans, those of you who run our factories, and grow our food, and teach our children, and fight our wars. This is where the best of America is.

Truly, we believe that America is not the problem; America is the solution.

And we still believe that America is that shining city on a hill, that shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan used to speak of.

And I thank God that we have a man who is ready and worthy, ready to lead it now, and he inspires us not just with words, but heroic and trustworthy deeds all of his life fighting for you, Ohio.

And I'll tell you, from now until Election Day, you're going to hear our opponents go on in their claims of how they will fight for you, but since he won't say this on his own behalf, I'm going to say it for him, for my running mate.

Ohio, there is only one man in this campaign who has ever really fought for you, and he has the courage to keep on fighting for you, America. That man is John McCain.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Palin's schedule today includes stops in Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada, before flying home overnight to Alaska. Tomorrow, she'll join McCain for election night in Phoenix, Az.

The Democratic ticket will wait for the voters' verdict in Obama's hometown, Chicago.