WASHINGTON – One George W. got a visit from another Friday, as President Bush kicked off his final campaign swing before voters went to the polls for Tuesday's midterm elections.
The president's three-state day trip began in central Pennsylvania, where GOP Rep. George W. Gekas was locked in a stranglehold with Democratic Rep. Tim Holden.
Both Gekas and Holden are longtime congressmen who got thrown against each other by post-2000 Census redistricting.
The race hinges on whether Gekas, 72, a 10-term incumbent with a strong GOP voting record, can generate the enthusiasm that Holden, 45, who has campaigned on his youth and energy, has conveyed.
Pennsylvania is an important state for the president's own re-election hopes. Former Vice President Al Gore narrowly won the state in 2000, and Bush has been there 16 times since taking office in order to gin up support for 2004.
Visiting Harrisburg, the state capital, Bush told rally attendees: "It doesn't matter whether you're Republican or Democrat or could care less ... you have an obligation as part of the citizenry of America to go to the polls and vote."
"And when you do," he added, "I got a suggestion for you for Congress: George W. Gekas. How about I put it this way: Let's win one for George W."
The president also campaigned for state Attorney General Mike Fisher, whose prospects to win the governor's race against former Philadelphia mayor and Democratic National Committee chairman Ed Rendell were much bleaker.
As usual, Bush stressed issues that he said wouldn't be resolved until Republicans ran both the House and Senate.
He first pointed out that his judicial nominees were not being cleared to fill vacancies, then demanded passage of both a Terrorism Insurance Act that he argued would create jobs and a tort-reform bill that would slow insurance-rate hikes.
The president also emphasized the importance of a tough U.N. resolution on Iraq, saying that if that "august body" did not curb Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, it would demonstrate its own ineffectiveness.
"I went to remind them that if their word is not kept, they will become nothing but a debating society unable to keep the peace," Bush said.
"The United Nations will fulfill its obligations to peace; Saddam Hussein will disarm," Bush said. "If not, for the sake of peace, for the sake of securing the homeland, for the sake of protecting our friends and allies, the United States will lead a mighty coalition of freedom-loving nations and disarm Saddam Hussein."
After the early-morning event in Pennsylvania, Bush got back on Air Force One to travel to a midday event in New Hampshire and an evening rally in Kentucky. He planned to visit at least three states every day through Monday.
In New Hampshire, the president was to help Rep. John Sununu bolster his weak lead over Democrat Jeanne Shaheen for the Senate seat held by GOP Sen. Bob Smith, whom Sununu defeated in the Republican primary.
Shaheen, the popular governor of the presidential election season's first primary state, has received support from every prospective Democratic 2004 presidential candidate.
In Kentucky, the president was to stump for Rep. Anne Northup, a three-term Republican who always barely wins her Democratic district.
Bush, who basks in 90-95 percent approval ratings among Republicans — the highest since Ronald Reagan in 1984 — is seen as "a huge asset for emotion and enthusiasm" in a race that will be decided by the numbers of partisan-base voters who go to the polls.
Bush's popularity — he also has the highest general midterm approval rating since John F. Kennedy's in 1962 — may blunt the usual losses the president's party gets in the off-year election.
In this case, the president's travels are "to keep the Democrats from getting the wind behind their backs," said one Republican.
Of course, the president's get-out-the-vote efforts could backfire. Democrats might view the election as a referendum on his presidency, encouraging them to go the polls as well.
However, with half a dozen seats needed to regain control of the House, and an even outcome to maintain their one-seat majority in Congress, Democrats would have to get voters out in droves.
Republicans and Democrats are polling fairly even in voter-preference surveys.
Fox News' Wendell Goler and Jim Angle contributed to this report.