NEW YORK – Sen. John Kerry (search) had already made four campaign stops before noon EST on Sunday as President Bush appeared for a scheduled event in Miami before hitting two other locales in Florida.
The president was slated to appear in Tampa and Gainesville, Fla., before heading to Cincinnati, where he'll spend the night. Kerry was at a church in Dayton, Ohio, and stopped at a nearby pancake restaurant. He also planned stops in Manchester, N.H., and Tampa, Fla., before overnighting in Orlando.
As usual, the two candidates began their Sundays in prayer. Kerry attended a predominnatly black church, his fifth consecutive Sunday appearance talking to his base. The senator quoted the Bible and criticized Bush without mentioning his name.
"There is a standard by which we have to live," Kerry said. "Coming to church on Sundays and talking about faith and professing faith isn't the whole deal."
Bush began his day at worship services at a Roman Catholic church in Miami. Bush, who has assiduously courted Catholics during his term, was accompanied by first lady Laura Bush, his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and other relatives. He was all but endorsed by Monsignor Jude O'Doherty.
"Mr. President, I want you to know that I admire your faith and your courage to profess it," O'Doherty said.
Speaking to church assemblies were par for the course in the campaigns, which are now operating at breakneck speeds in the last 48 hours before the election. The candidates' attempts to rally voters comes as the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll suggested a race too close for anyone's call.
The poll, taken Oct. 29-30 and released Sunday morning, showed the two candidates tied at 46 percent each with independent candidate Ralph Nader pulling 1 percent. The daily tracking poll of the last five days has shown Bush's support shrinking, narrowing the margin with Kerry, whose numbers remain almost static.
If Nader is eliminated from the questioning, Kerry wins 47 to 46 percent in the poll of 1,200 likely voters that has a 3 percent margin of error. However, in what can be seen as a flip of sorts, Bush now trails Kerry by two points among men while leading the Democratic senator by one point among women. That is the reverse from the poll the day before. The male-female margin of error is 4 percent.
The candidates' support also seems fairly solid. Among Bush supporters, 91 percent say their vote is definite. Ninety-three percent of Kerry's supporters are certain how they will cast their ballots.
To put the tight race into perspective, on the weekend before the 2000 presidential race, a FOX News poll showed Bush and Al Gore tied at 43 percent of the vote.
A separate Newsweek poll showed the president moving ahead of Kerry in the popular vote, 50 percent to 44 percent, after being tied in the same survey a week ago. Democrats said their private surveys hinted at momentum for Bush.
In 2000, the race came down to the state of Florida, where the president Sunday was holding a rally in Tampa near the headquarters of U.S. Central Command. Bush was introduced by retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
In the final hours of the campaign, the president's closing argument is that Kerry is weak on defense, while the president can be trusted to protect the country.
The president's longtime security adviser Karen Hughes said Sunday that the president is "very much enjoying the final days" of this tough campaign. Hughes also said that Kerry made a "strategic mistake" in talking about the missing explosives in Iraq that was all the talk during this last week of campaigning.
Hughes told FOX News Sunday that the story only reminds voters that Iraq was a dangerous place and the president was "absolutely right to go into Iraq and try to remove that danger and that threat to our country."
But Kerry adviser Bob Shrum countered that it is "stunning to hear Karen Hughes try to excuse the malfeasance of this administration on these weapons" by suggesting that the amount missing was not 380 tons as first stated in a New York Times report but probably closer to 100 tons.
Shrum also complained that Bush's campaign is one of fear and that Kerry can handle terrorism.
"The fact of the matter is that people have made a judgment that John Kerry can handle terrorism. They have made a judgment that he can be commander in chief. They've made a judgment, in a lot of polls, that he will handle the foreign policy and national security of this country better. But what they really like is the fact that he understands that a president has to do more than one thing at a time -- all this president does is talk about one thing and try to play the politics of fear -- that the president has to stand up and fight for jobs, for health care, for the middle class," he told Chris Wallace, host of FOX News Sunday.
The comments come two days after a new tape was submitted to Arab television network Al Jazeera from Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden. In the tape, bin Laden says the United States must stop threatening the security of Muslims if it wants to avoid "another Manhattan."
While he did not warn directly of new attacks, the man who claims responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States says: "There are still reasons to repeat what happened."
He linked any past and future attacks to injustices against the Lebanese and Palestinians by Israel and the United States and suggested that American security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or Al Qaeda. "Your security is in your hown hands. Any state that does not mess withour security has naturally guaranteed its own security," bin Laden says in the 18-minute video.
Hughes said that she doesn't expect the tape to have any influence on the election, repeating a comment made earlier by the president.
"We don't believe that our fellow Americans are going to allow our enemy, Usama bin Laden, to affect their votes, one way or another," Hughes said.
However, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, the former governor of battleground state Wisconsin, said the bin Laden tape appears to be an endorsement for Kerry.
"It's obvious to anybody who looks at it that the bin Laden video amounts to support for John Kerry," Thompson said in a campaign speech for the president in Wisconsin.
On Sunday, the candidates laid off using the video tape to score political points, but on Saturday reminded people of the significance of bin Laden's apparent longevity.
"The terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people are still dangerous and they are determined," Bush told supporters at a campaign rally.
Kerry said bin Laden's re-emergence reminds voters of Bush's failure to finish up the job in Afghanistan and his preoccupation with Iraq.
"When Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, it was wrong to outsource the job of capturing them to Afghan warlords," Kerry said Saturday. "It was wrong to divert our forces from Afghanistan so we could rush to war with Iraq without a plan to win the peace."
Tied in National Polls, Tied in the Electoral College
Like any news coming out around the election, the bin Laden tape could impact the outcome. The Electoral College count is so close that eight to 10 states will have the final say and the candidates are scheduling their campaign stops to negotiate the best possible pick-ups.
According to an Associated Press analysis, 26 states are solidly behind Bush or lean his way for 222 electoral votes. Kerry has 16 states plus the District of Columbia secured or leaning his direction for 211 electoral votes.
That leaves Bush needing at least 48 of the remaining 105 electoral votes to keep his job. Kerry needs 59 to move into the White House.
Those 105 electoral votes are in the eight most competitive states: Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and New Mexico.
In 2000, Bush won, eventually, three of the toss-up states -- Florida, Ohio and Nevada and made out with 271 of the 538 votes needed. Al Gore won Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico, the latter three by less than 10,000 votes. This year, it looks that victory in two of the three largest electoral vote states up for grabs -- Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania -- will cinch the deal. However, Michigan, New Hampshire and Hawaii fall outside the toss-up category but could still turn from Kerry to Bush, upsetting the electoral vote count already considered in the bag.
"We're in uncharted territory," said Paul Beck, professor of political science and dean of the college of social and behavioral sciences at Ohio State University.
On Sunday, Vice President Cheney was making an overnight trip to Hawaii. Kerry's daughter Alexandra Kerry spent the day there on Saturday.
So far, Kerry seems most certain to win Pennsylvania, Minnesota and possibly Wisconsin. Of the states Gore won in 2000, Kerry may have the hardest time holding on to Iowa and New Mexico.
Both parties have geared up lawyers, who are on the ground in Ohio, which is expected to be the toughest fight of the election. Many contests were expected over the eligibility of registered voters.
"We've got over a million volunteers in key battleground states helping the president get the vote out," said White House chief of staff Andrew Card. "I really see tremendous momentum for the president."
FOX News' Rebecca Gomez and Julie Kirtz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.