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Campaign roundup: One last frenzied day in battleground states
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Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards campaigned Monday morning in Minnesota, trying to keep the state in the Democratic column. "The American Dream is on the ballot," Edwards told a crowd at Hamline University. (MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik)
President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry raced through a frenzied last day of campaigning Monday, pressing hard for support in Ohio, Wisconsin and other narrowly divided states in a presidential election still too close to call. Hoping to shore up support in Minnesota, Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards began his day with a rally at Hamline University in St. Paul. The state's top two Republicans launched a GOP get-out-the-vote bus tour.

St. Paul, Minn. — On the day before the election, Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards made a final swing into Minnesota to fire up supporters in the swing state.

Edward proclaimed "The American Dream is on the ballot," and he promised if he and John Kerry are elected they'll hold the concerns of working class Americans at the forefront.

"Has the cost of college tuition gone up? Has the price of my gas gone up? Have jobs been leaving this country? Will George Bush fight as hard for my job as he fights for his own job?" Edwards said. "Do I want four more years of this? Or do I want a fresh start for America with President John Kerry in the White House?"

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Image Cheesehead for Bush

Edwards focused on economic issues, but he also lambasted President Bush over his handling of the war with Iraq.

Polls published over the weekend show the race between President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry remains tight in Minnesota, a state that used to be reliably Democratic in presidential elections.

"This is a place where people understand what being a Democrat means. ... This is a place where you understand what's at stake this election," Edwards said in a 20-minute, relatively standard stump speech.

Minnesota's two top Republicans, Sen. Norm Coleman and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, hit the road Monday morning to campaign around Minnesota for President Bush. As they left St. Paul on a bus trip, Pawlenty urged volunteers to do all they can to get people to vote.

"Our message to the grass roots and to the supporters is please, make every call, drop every piece of literature that you can," Pawlenty said. "But as importantly, make sure you bring three, four, five, 10, 20 of your friends to the polls."

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Image Cheesehead for Kerry

Pawlenty and Coleman's schedule included stops in Rochester, Mankato, St. Cloud and Moorhead. Coleman will travel with the bus during its entire 24-hour route.

President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry raced through a frenzied last day of campaigning Monday, pressing hard for support in Ohio, Wisconsin and other narrowly divided states in a presidential election still too close to call.

Squeezing every dwindling hour for campaigning, Bush laid on a six-state, seven-stop tour stretching from early morning into late night, mostly in the Midwest. Kerry was working the heartland for a final time, too, after a morning stop in Florida, scene of the disputed 2000 vote that gave Bush the presidency.

Both candidates visited Milwaukee, where they spoke to large rallies only a few blocks apart from each other. At an airport rally in Ohio, where more than 200,000 jobs have been lost in the past four years, Bush said, "I know the economy of this state has been through a lot, but we are moving in the right direction."

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Image Pawlenty and Coleman

"We have to keep your taxes low and I want you to remind your friends and neighbors that my opponent will raise the taxes on Ohio's families and Ohio's small businesses," Bush asserted.

Seemingly upbeat, Bush greeted supporters in Milwaukee a few hours later: "I want to thank all the cheeseheads who are here."

Kerry, saying he felt "fabulous," headed for Milwaukee, too, a state Al Gore won in 2000 and the Democrats cannot afford to lose this year.

Kerry started the day by attending All Saints Day mass. Schoolgirls at St. John Vianney Catholic School squealed when he shook their hands through schoolroom windows.

Both sides had get-out-the-vote armies primed for action, plus lawyers deployed across the country ready to throw any photo finish into court at the first sign of polling-place irregularities.

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Image Bush in Pennsylvania

"I expect this election is going to be decided Tuesday night," Kerry told The Associated Press on Sunday, "but, given experience, I would be irresponsible if I wasn't prepared to be able to protect every person's right to vote."

In an interview broadcast Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Kerry predicted "a record turnout" and said he believed "Americans are determined not to see a repeat of 2000." Bush won the presidency in 2000 in a postelection tangle broken when the Supreme Court stopped a Florida recount.

Bush said it was vital to see a clear winner emerge election night, especially considering how closely the process is being watched around the world.

"We'll see how it goes Tuesday night but I really think it's important not to have a world of lawsuits that stop the will of the people from going forward," the president told "Dateline NBC."

Bush pitched his case for continuity in the war on terrorism before tens of thousands filling the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Sunday night, the fifth consecutive day he campaigned in Ohio.

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Image Kerry in Florida

Sunday night, With U.S. and Iraqi forces preparing for an onslaught against the insurgent stronghold in Fallujah, Bush offered this explanation for the bloody run-up to Iraqi elections at the end of January: "Iraq is a dangerous place today because Iraq is moving toward freedom."

The Democrat summed up his case before a crowd of thousands Sunday night in a Tampa park, the city's high-rise buildings as backdrop.

"This is the moment to hold George Bush accountable for the deficits, for the loss of health care, for the loss of jobs, for the loss of America's influence and respect in the world," he said. "This is the moment to restore our hopes and dreams and bring back the vision of this country."

Kerry told the AP that if elected he would quickly name a Cabinet and begin a "flurry of activity" to heighten the country's security. "I'm going to make America safer and I have some very strong and real steps to take quite immediately to make that happen," Kerry said.

New polls told a now-familiar story - it's neck and neck in battleground after battleground.

A strong majority in a Pew Research Center survey said this election is especially important, a result that could presage a high turnout. Fully 84 percent said so, compared with only 67 percent in 2000 and 61 percent in 1996.

Bush was stumping in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico on Monday before a final home-state rally in Dallas.

Kerry was campaigning in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan on the campaign's last day. After stops in Milwaukee and Detroit today, Kerry will fly to La Crosse for the night.

Kerry will meet with La Crosse area voters and volunteers Tuesday morning.

Vice President Dick Cheney will meet with volunteers at the Waukesha County Republican Party headquarters Tuesday morning.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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