Bush, Gore in Election Eve Blitz

Monday, November 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — With the presidential contest still neck and neck a day before the nation votes, Al Gore and George W. Bush made their final sustained pushes Monday through battleground states.

Republican Bush promised ``a sprint to the finish, while Gore told audiences it's time ``to move your feet.'' Both candidates emphasized get-out-the-vote drives, hoping to energize their core supporters and reach still-undecided voters.

Leaving Florida for the last time before the election, Bush told reporters, ``We've laid the groundwork for victory, now it's up (to us) to get people to the polls.''

Appearing on NBC's ``Today'' show, Bush strategist Karl Rove said Republicans were concentrating on get-out-the-vote efforts in the campaign's last 10 days, placing 70 million phone calls to voters, sending out 110 million pieces of mail and mobilizing 243,000 volunteers in 28 battleground states.

While both had full schedules Monday, Gore went a step further, campaigning around the clock and appearing with wife Tipper Gore on all three networks' morning shows. Well past midnight and in a wind-blown cold rain, he hustled across the Waterloo, Iowa, airport tarmac to greet some 700 flag-waving supporters.

``I'm going to be brief,'' he promised. ``I want you to save some energy to take your neighbors to the polls and I want you to convince all of the undecided voters you encounter over the next 24 hours and more because this race is close.''

On CBS' ``The Early Show,'' Mrs. Gore called a vote for her husband ``the last, best hope for everybody — so I wish they'd get to the polls for him because it means that you'll have a president that has foreign policy experience as well as one really committed to keeping the economy growing and going strong.''

Before night lightened to morning, Gore stood under a black umbrella meeting workers as they reported for shift at a John Deere tractor plant. He grinned when a red pickup truck slowed in the street and its driver shouted, ``Give George Bush hell tomorrow!'' He blanketed the morning TV talk shows, and was then 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 a dawn Election Day gathering at a Tampa, Fla., coffee shop. ``The last formal campaign stop of Campaign 2000, after my opponent's gone to bed, is going to be in central Florida because that's where the future is going to be written,'' he boasted.

Gore 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. ``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 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.