Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush, McBride Make Last Round for Support; Both Candidates Visit Jacksonville in Close Race for Florida Governor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush, McBride Make Last Round for Support; Both Candidates Visit Jacksonville in Close Race for Florida Governor

Article excerpt

Byline: Binyamin Appelbaum, Times-Union staff writer

Gov. Jeb Bush and Democratic challenger Bill McBride hopped across Florida yesterday, each landing in a series of population centers to rally supporters on the penultimate day of their closely contested race for governor.

Both men included stops in Jacksonville on their jam-packed itineraries.

Bush spoke briefly at a Cecil Commerce Center hangar yesterday morning, then spent about 30 minutes interacting with supporters before departing for Orlando.

McBride landed at Craig Municipal Airport yesterday afternoon, rallying supporters at the airport, outside the Duval County School Board building and again at local Democratic Party headquarters at the Gateway mall on the Northside.

"I feel confident if we have a big turnout, we win and we win substantially," McBride told perhaps 200 supporters gathered outside the School Board building.

Bush himself refrained from predicting victory during a brief stump speech to a crowd of similar size gathered at Cecil, focusing instead on his priorities if re-elected: less government, lower taxes, better schools and more economic development.

"We're not going to let you down," Bush told the crowd. "We will stand tall in Tallahassee for the principles we share."

Later, speaking with reporters, the Republican incumbent said, "My gut tells me I'm going to win."

The Bush campaign was making its second stop of a scheduled six visits to major cities from Pensacola to Miami. Several local politicians stood on the platform behind Bush, who was introduced both by state Sen. Jim King and Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney.

The McBride campaign paid Jacksonville a longer visit, traveling between three stops in a line of school buses. At the second stop, outside the school building, one supporter handed McBride an apple before he spoke. It was an appropriate gesture for a candidate who has focused mostly on education.

"The current governor hasn't helped public schools," McBride told the boisterous crowd. "I will."

Polls show Bush holds a single-digit lead in his re-election bid, and yesterday McBride mentioned Bush several times while the governor returned the favor only once. …

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