As hours tick down, Bush, Gore focus efforts
Texas governor concentrates on Florida; vice president works 3 states
TAMPA, Florida (CNN) -- With less than 48 hours to go before Election Day, Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore wrapped up their campaign day Sunday by calling attention to their policy differences, including their views on the proper role of the federal government.
In Tampa, Florida, the Republican candidate cast the vice president as "a man who trusts the federal government to make decisions for our lives."
"We trust people," Bush said.
The Texas governor reiterated his call for Social Security reform; tax cuts for all Americans drawing on the budget surplus; and the need to rebuild morale in the military.
In Dearborn, Michigan, Gore said the nation's budget surplus should be used "to continue fiscally responsible polices, which means very simply: I'll balance the budget every year; I'll pay down the debt until the debt is completely eliminated."
The budget surplus, Gore pledged, would be used to "set the right priorities, according to what's best, not for the wealthy, but for middle-class families, working men and women; the people who most need help."
Gore also attacked Bush's calls for Social Security reform, saying it was a case of "fuzzy math," a phrase the audience gleefully shouted as Gore spoke.
"I look back and see the Bush/Quayle years -- debt, recession," said Gore, referring to the administration of President George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle.
Earlier, both candidates combined prayer and politics as they took their campaigns to voters in a handful of states still in play.
Bush focused on Florida, while Gore stumped in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"I feel very good about it. We are going to win. We're going to win. You can
write it down, book it, check it," Gore told reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force Two.
Both men began the day with visits to church, with Gore calling on black
churches in Philadelphia and Bush participating in a morning service at Old St.
Andrews Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
Gore stood at the pulpit of Philadelphia's Mount Carmel Baptist Church and asked for churchgoers' support on Tuesday. "I need your help on Tuesday, I need your help. God bless you."
Mount Carmel Minister Albert Campbell offered up a plea of his own for the vice president: "We pray for all of the efforts on the part of all the people to elect the one who we feel will give the appropriate and the responsible kind of leadership ... Al Gore."
State polls in Pennsylvania show an average point-spread of some two points between the candidates, making the state's upcoming decision too close to call.
Calling his church visit a "great way" to start the home stretch, Bush said his focus Sunday morning was "no politics, just prayer and reflection."
Bush was scheduled to campaign the entire day in Florida, a major commitment this close to the election, but one that is illustrative of Florida's importance -- 25 electoral votes -- and the close race in state.
Gore is leading slightly in most polls in Florida, but nationally Bush appears to have the edge.
Gore, meanwhile, with his wife Tipper in tow, addressed a rally in Philadelphia and then moved on to events in Dearborn, Michigan, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was expected to make almost a daylong commitment to Florida on Monday.
The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll of likely voters found Bush with 48 percent, Gore with 43 percent and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader with 4 percent. Undecided voters came in at 4 percent. The sampling error was plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Nader also managed to keep himself busy on Sunday.
In Washington, D.C., the consumer advocate appeared to be looking beyond the election, saying his candidacy had shaken up the Democratic and Republican contenders. He predicted the Green Party would play a wider role in American politics regardless of the outcome Tuesday.
"Right away, on November 8, the Green Party's a major watchdog party on those two parties," Nader said on NBC's Meet The Press.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush campaigns in Florida with his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The major candidates' supporters and families also took to the campaign circuit and the Sunday morning talk shows.
President Clinton campaigned in Arkansas -- still in play despite being the home state of the Democratic president and adjacent to Gore's home state of Tennessee.
Asked by CNN if he thought he could win the state for Gore, the president
said he hoped he could make it happen, adding that he believed Arkansas was in
much better shape than it was eight years ago.
Clinton made the comments after making an unscheduled visit to the
Democratic Party headquarters in Little Rock, where he shook hands with
"Bring it home," the president told a group of reporters. When asked what
he would do to win the state for Gore, he said he would work in Arkansas all
day and then go back to Washington to make phone calls.
Appearing on CNN's Late Edition, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush -- the Republican
nominee's younger brother -- defended the Texas governor following this week's revelation that he had been arrested for drunken driving 24 years ago.
"There should be a white line between private life and public service, and things that happen in private lives while you're serving, that's fair game,"
the Florida governor said. "But something that happened 24 years ago,
that's completely irrelevant."
The candidates' big Saturday
In their last campaign stops late on Saturday, presidential candidates Gore and Bush defended their contrasting plans for the federal budget surplus.
At Drew University in New Jersey, Bush said his proposed tax break would continue the nation's prosperity. The economy needs "a second wind, and the way to get it is to give some of the money back," the Texas governor said. He credited President Reagan's tax cuts with boosting the economy in the 1980s.
Gore told the church congregation in Pittsburgh the surplus should help "those who have not benefited" from the nation's prosperity.
Bush, meanwhile, assailed the Clinton-Gore administration's purported lack of a domestic energy policy in appearances in Dearborn, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also took jabs at the character of the people who have occupied the White House for the last eight years.
In Huntington, West Virginia, Gore, flanked by the state's Senate delegation -- Democrats Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller -- lit into Bush's social policy planks, saying that though the Republican presidential nominee espouses a form of "compassionate" conservatism, his heart is set in ideological ground occupied by his father, former President Bush, and the senior Bush's predecessor, former President Reagan.
Reuters contributed to this report.