Candidates Make Most of 11th Hour

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With their last-minute blitzes approaching the witching hour, President Bush (search) and Sen. John Kerry (search) continued on their manic Mondays, stressing the importance of this year's election in determining the future security of America.

Bush still had late-night rallies in Albuquerque, N.M., and Dallas, Texas, scheduled before midnight while Kerry was headed to Cleveland for a nighttime rally.

Monday's stumping came as a new FOX News/Opinion Dynamics survey gave Kerry a slight edge.

The poll of 1,200 likely voters, conducted Oct. 30-31, gave the Massachusetts senator 48 percent compared to Bush's 46 percent. Independent candidate Ralph Nader got 1 percent support. The numbers were within the 3 percent margin of error.

The previous FOX News poll, released Sunday, put the two candidates at a tie, both with 46 percent. Nader had 1 percent support then as well.

The presidential race also remains tight in four swing states — Iowa, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to another FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll released Monday. Bush leads in Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to this survey, while Kerry has a lead in Florida.

Click here for Monday's edition of's daily campaign digest, Trail Tales.

FOX News political analyst Michael Barone noted that in the last day before the election, both candidates were mainly fighting on turf that Al Gore won in 2000.

Four out of the six states being visited Monday were "blue states" four years ago (states voting Republican are known as "red states.")

Kerry was trying to get out his base of support in all of the battleground states being visited on Monday, while Bush was trying to get his base energized in Ohio, a state he won in 2000 but is in danger of losing this election.

Concentrating on Ohio over other states suggests confidence, Barone said. It is "saying the president's in a stronger position when you look at state-to-state polls. But neither candidate has got this election sewed up."

Bush: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico and Finally Texas

The president began his day Monday in Wilmington, Ohio — his 40th trip to the Buckeye State. There, he touted his record combating terrorism and went after his Democratic opponent on his health-care plan, among other things.

"The wrong prescription for American families is to federalize your health care," Bush told a crowd of about 3,000 at the airport rally in Wilmington before turning to the cornerstone of his campaign — the War on Terror.

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"All progress on every other issue depends on the safety of our citizens," Bush continued. "If this country of ours shows any uncertainty or weakness during these troubling times, the world will drift towards tragedy. This is not going to happen on my watch."

He told voters that this election is a matter of trust.

"There is a lot at stake in this election. The future safety and prosperity of this country are on the ballot," the president said. "Ultimately, though, this election comes down to who do you trust? Who do you trust to make the tough decisions? Who do you trust to lead this country to a better tomorrow?"

The Republican incumbent also assured the crowd that the economy was getting stronger, pointing to Ohio's jobless rate, which fell last month from 6.3 percent to 6 percent — but is still more than half a point above the national average.

Ohio has a net loss of more than 200,000 jobs during Bush's tenure.

"I know the economy of this state has been through a lot, but we are moving in the right direction," Bush said.

Red Sox star pitcher and Bush supporter Curt Schilling (search) was also at the rally. Schilling, the hero of this year's World Series, bowed out of an appearance in New Hampshire last week, citing his injured ankle.

On the weekend, he recorded a telephone message to get voters to the polls, and on Monday, with a protective boot over his injured ankle, he invited fans to join a winning team by voting for Bush's re-election.

"On Tuesday, we need you to get out and vote. We need you to get your friends and neighbors out to vote — tell them you're voting for President Bush and get them on board, too," Schilling said. "I know everybody wants to be on a winning team, and there's plenty of room on this bandwagon."

Schilling and his wife, Shonda, also helped introduce Bush at a later rally in Burgettstown, Pa., just west of Pittsburgh.

"I know this state depends on a healthy steel and coal economy," Bush said about Pennsylvania, which has lost a net 70,300 jobs since he took office. "We will keep taxes low. We will insist on free and fair trade and we will make those industries strong for the Pennsylvania recovery."

Gore won the state in 2000.

Upon landing at Pittsburgh International Airport later Monday morning, the president said "he's feeling good" and that he was doing seven campaign stops Monday because he wanted to tell the American people he was doing everything to protect them.

Wavy Hair and Cooked Goose

At a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Bush, appearing as if he is joyfully soaking up the last whirlwind of campaigning, said he's "real proud" of the No. 2 man on his ticket, Dick Cheney.

"I readily can see the vice presidenrt doesn't have the waviest hair in the race but I know the people in Des Moines, Iowa, will be happy to hear I didn't pick him because he's got the best hairdo," Bush said, taking a thinly-veiled stab at Edwards, who is known for being very conscientious about his hair. "I picked him because he's got the best experience and he's getting the job done in America," Bush added.

First lady Laura Bush also stressed the "choice" theme on Monday.

"Tomorrow, we face a choice between an America that is uncertain in the face of danger, or an America that takes decisive action to defeat terror and to spread liberty," Mrs. Bush said during a rally in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cheney was campaigning in four states Monday: Hawaii, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming. During one of two stops in Nevada, at a rally in Henderson, the vice president will be joined by Sen. John McCain (search), R-Ariz.

Cheney on Monday ripped Kerry's record on national security, an area the Bush campaign portrays as the Democratic challenger's most glaring weakness.

"If you want my opinion, John Kerry's goose is cooked," Cheney told hundreds of cheering supporters in the Republican stronghold of Colorado Springs, Colo., where voters at military bases backed Bush 2-to-1 four years ago.

After Ohio and Pennsylvania, Bush traveled to Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico, before Air Force One touches down in Dallas, where the president was to visit his wife Laura's alma mater, Southern Methodist University (search) for the last rally before voting begins.

Bush planned to cast his own vote in Crawford, Texas, on Tuesday, then head back to Washington — and perhaps make some Election-Day campaign stops in Ohio and Florida on the way.

Kerry in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin

Kerry began his Monday at an appearance in Orlando, Fla., then headed to Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland and Toledo.

"This is the choice. This is the moment of accountability for America, it's the moment where the world is watching what you're going to do," Kerry said an airport rally in Orlando. "All of the hopes and dreams, all of the hopes and dreams of our country are on the line today. The choice is clear."

Kerry said that during the presidential debates with Bush, he tried to talk about issues such as education and homeland security, but that effort is made difficult when "the president just keeps looking at you and saying, 'It's hard work, it's hard work, it's hard work.'"

In Milwaukee, the Massachusetts senator displayed confidence and a burst of energy.

"A little rain like this is nothing compared to what old George Bush has been doing for the last four years," Kerry said, leading the crowd in a chant of, "One more day! One more day!"

Kerry also once again took a shot at the incumbent on foreign policy, saying more countries need to be involved in fighting the War on Terror.

"Not every country is at the table. Why?" Kerry asked. "Because this administration drove them away ... just because George Bush didn't bring other people to the table, doesn't mean it can't be done. We're going to get it done."

In Detroit, the Democratic candidate held his only indoor rally on a very rainy midwest day. He was joined by his two daughters, Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry. There, he issued some of his best lines on the importance of Tuesday rather than his usual attacks on the president.

"This is a solemn and unique moment when the American people get to decide," Kerry told the crowd rallying at Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings. "Take away the clutter. Take away all the labels -- Democrat, Republican, independent. ... This is your chance to hold George Bush accountable for the last four years."

Perhaps inspired by a series of musicians joining him in the final stretch, including Stevie Wonder, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, Kerry seemed to have lost the drawn, somewhat tired appearance that occasionally accompanied his lengthy speeches full of facts and figures. The Kerry campaign said Monday was not a day for long speeches but for rallying the voters.

Earlier in the day, Kerry told CBS' "The Early Show" that voters should look to his Vietnam experience to reject Republican charges that he's not tough enough to be commander in chief.

"When I turned my boat in Vietnam into an ambush and I went straight into the ambush and overran it, I didn't see George Bush or Dick Cheney at my side," Kerry said. "So I'm not going to take a second seat to anybody in my willingness to be tough to defend the United States of America. I did it when it mattered, and as president, I will defend the United States of America with everything I have."

At the end of the day, Kerry was scheduled to fly back to Boston, where aides say he will vote Tuesday and, following his own Election Day tradition, eat lunch at the Union Oyster House.

Kerry running mate, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, already voted in his state, and spent Monday campaigning in Iowa, Ohio and Florida before crossing The Sunshine State throughout the day on Tuesday.

In St. Paul, Minn., Edwards implored Democrats in battleground states to vote, declaring that "tomorrow can be better than today" with Kerry in the White House.

"The American dream is on the ballot," he added, then exclaimed, "It is on the ballot tomorrow."

At a late-night rally in Pompano Beach, Fla., Monday, singer Jimmy Buffett was scheduled to warm up the crowd before Edwards took the stage.

Massachusetts Liberal or Texas Ranger?

Political observers of all persuasions agree that voter turnout will determine the outcome of what portends to be an extremely close race. Both parties have launched vast voter registration and recruitment efforts.

"We're all waiting to se what's going to happen on the ground tomorrow," said Democratic strategist Kirsten Power. "The numbers are up so much in terms of registered voters but will they turn out?"

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 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."

The security issue may be one that helps voters on the fence decide on a candidate.

A new videotape released by terrorist leader Usama bin Laden warned against another four years of a Bush-Cheney administration.

"If they're undecided, if those issues [like the economy and health care] haven't resolved for them, I think at the end of the day, they're going to say 'Who can keep us safer?' And I think the tilt goes toward George Bush," Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback told FOX News on Monday. He said voters will ask themselves: 'Am I going to go with a Massachusetts liberal or a Texas ranger?"

Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman added: "This election's going to come down to the question of who can protect our country."

But others said that the fact Bush's approval ratings, despite his high marks in the War on Terror, weren't terribly good was a sign his presidency was in trouble.

"The president isn't where he needs to be. He's an incumbent president; he needs to be in the 50s to win," said Kerry senior adviser Tad Devine. "He needs to have the people in this country believing he's going in the right direction."

On Florida, although Mehlman said Bush is ahead, Devine countered: "George Bush is in trouble in Florida and I'll tell you why — because he hasn't done a good job as president."

FOX News' Steve Brown, James Rosen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.