The final weekend of the presidential
campaign is drawing to a close as Al Gore
and George W. Bush make a final, frantic
push for votes in a race that both have a shot
ABCNEWS.com Nov. 5 — George W. Bush is walking and talking like a front-runner in the presidential race, even as Al Gore continues to turn up the rhetoric against his opponent. Both Gore and Bush are barnstorming through election battlegrounds today, outlining their respective proposals to reform Social Security while trying to boost voter turnout in places where the race is too close to call.
And while Bush has a slight edge in the polls, the contest still seems likely to wind up as the closest election in a generation. Despite the positive attitude displayed by the Bush campaign, Gore aides claim their internal polling shows a virtually even race.
An ABCNEWS tracking poll released this morning shows Bush leading Gore 49 percent to 45 percent, with Green Party nominee Ralph Nader at 3 percent.
Bush has also shrugged off the Thursday revelation that he pleaded guilty to drunk driving in Maine in 1976, showing no discernible loss of support since then.
Florida Still the Key
Bush, the Republican nominee, is devoting his day to campaigning in Florida, the largest toss-up state left.
“My opponent says, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet,’” Bush told his audience at a rally in West Palm Beach, swiping one of Gore’s favorite refrains. “He’s right … When it comes to Social Security reform, we ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Bush added he would “be willing to think differently to bring Democrats and Republicans together” to solve Social Security, underscoring his claim that he alone can bring bipartisan leadership to Washington.
The GOP nominee, who has been calling for a reform of the Social Security system that would allow people to invest a portion of their benefits for themselves, reiterated his message at a later rally at Florida International University in Miami.
“I also believe we ought to trust workers to invest your own money and get a better rate of return,” Bush told the corwd assembled at the univerity’s football stadium.
This morning, the Texas governor also met with the Rev. Billy Graham in Jacksonville, Fla.
Although Graham does not formally endorse political candidates, he left little doubt he is supporting Bush, giving a wink when asked who he is backing.
That Bush must fight to win Florida’s 25 electoral votes is one of the biggest surprises of the campaign. Bush would seem to have a natural advantage in the Sunshine State because his brother Jeb is governor, and the state traditionally votes Republican.
“I think we’re down to turnout right now,” said Jeb Bush today on ABCNEWS’ This Week. “We’re going to carry this state because he has a message they believe in.”
Bush will appear at later events in Tampa and Orlando.
Bush advisers say they are running well in southern Dade County, which Gore is counting on as a stronghold of support in the state. But the battle for Florida remains tight.
“This has been a wacky year,” Jeb Bush conceded today. “Anything could happen.” But he added, “I’m confident he can carry this state.”
Gore Seeks Urban Turnout
Gore will be campaigning in Pennsylvania (23 electoral college votes), Michigan (18), and Wisconsin (11).
“I’m asking not only for your vote, but for your enthusiasm and for your dedication,” Gore told the congregation at an African-American church in Philadelphia this morning.