The White House Scramble; A Word in Your Ear: Pearls of Wisdom from Wife Laura for George W Bush
Byline: Richard Williams
It was an undignified scramble as both Al Gore and George W Bush spent their last day on the campaign trail desperately seeking the votes that will propel one of them into the White House.
With opinion polls giving Republican candidate Bush only a slight, and diminishing, lead every vote they could garner was vital.
It promises to be the closest election since John F Kennedy narrowly beat Richard Nixon 40 years ago.
More than 205 million Americans are eligible to vote today but not many more than the 49 per cent who turned out in 1966 are expected to bother to go to polling booths.
Both candidates made a final sustained push through battleground states before returning to their election headquarters - Bush to Austin, Texas, and Gore to Nashville, Tennessee - where they will remain until one man is victorious.
Bush, bolstered by private opinion polls that suggest he is doing better than the public polls suggest, promised 'a sprint to the finish'.
Gore told audiences it's time 'to move your feet'. Both candidates emphasised get-out-the-vote drives, hoping to energize their core supporters and reach still-undecided voters.
Leaving Florida, a vital state for both men, for the last time before the election, Bush said: 'We've laid the groundwork for victory, now it's up to us to get people to the polls.'
He said he was 'excited' heading into the election.
'I trust the people. I trust they have heard our message. And I believe we're going to have a good day,' he said.
Bush strategist Karl Rove said Republicans were concentrating on get-out-the-vote efforts in the campaign's last ten days, placing 70 million phone calls to voters, sending out 110 million pieces of mail and mobilising 243,000 volunteers in 28 battleground states.
While both had full schedules today, Gore went a step further, campaigning around the clock. In the early hoursm, and in a wind-blown cold rain, he hustled across the Waterloo, Iowa, airport Tarmac to greet 700 flag-waving supporters.
'I'm going to be brief,' he promised. 'I want you to save some energy to take your neighbours 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.'
Gore stood under a black umbrella meeting workers as they reported for work at a tractor plant. He grinned when a red pick-up 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 vote and await the returns.
Bush spent the night in Orlando after a five-city blitz through Florida, the most populous swing state. He then moved on to Tennessee, Wisconsin, Iowa and Arkansas before returning to his home in Austin, Texas. …