Pa. Primary Rivals Visit Guard Posts

As the end of their tight Republican race for the U.S. Senate approached, Sen. Arlen Specter (search) and Rep. Pat Toomey (search) spent Sunday at National Guard posts, with the moderate incumbent talking to gun owners and his conservative challenger welcoming home military troops.

Toomey spoke only briefly Sunday at his hometown military armory to welcome about 85 soldiers home from a tour in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

He then took a break from 14 straight months of campaigning, but Toomey's political team was busy at work phoning voters across the state to ask them to turn out for Tuesday's primary.

"We've got a major get-out-the-vote effort underway," the 42-year-old Toomey told reporters. "I really think it's going to bring home the victory for us."

Few gave Toomey a chance when he began his campaign to oust Specter, a four-term incumbent, but recent polls indicate the race has tightened to as little as 5 percentage points between the candidates.

Toomey has rallied conservative support by arguing that Specter is too liberal on issues such as abortion rights, although the senator has the backing of President Bush and Pennsylvania's leading conservative lawmaker, Sen. Rick Santorum (search).

Specter is seeking support from moderates, conservatives and even Democrats, asking the latter to urge Republican friends to turn out to the polls.

Specter started his morning talking to conservatives at a gun show at the National Guard armory in Philadelphia before heading to a town hall meeting with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a moderate Republican.

Specter, 74, said he's counting on support from a wide political spectrum Tuesday.

"My vote (supporters) may not be quite as intense as (Toomey's) vote, but I have a lot more of it," Specter said at the gun show.

Specter also said he will heavily tout Bush's endorsement in the final two days of the race.

"The stakes are very high," he said.

The election caps one of the most closely watched Republican fights in the country this year, and one that could change the political face of the slim Republican majority in the Senate.

"So much is going to depend on turnout, and turnout is hard to predict," said Villanova University political scientist Robert Maranto. "And that's what makes this an exciting race."

The winner is expected to face Democratic Rep. Joe Hoeffel in November's general election.