U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are engaged in a
furious last-minute push for votes in the final hours of the election campaign,
with polls showing Obama continuing to lead McCain nationally by a solid margin.
VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports on the closing moments of the 2008
race for the White House, the longest and most expensive presidential campaign
in U.S. history.
On the eve of what many experts regard as an
historic election, Democrat Barack Obama held a lead over Republican John McCain
by an average of seven points in national polls.
McCain undertook a massive get out
the vote effort in the final hours of the campaign, targeting seven key states
that may hold the balance of victory in the election, beginning with
"You know my friends, the pundits may not know it and the
Democrats may not know it, but the Mac is back! And we are going to win this
election," he said.
McCain's vice presidential running mate, Alaska
Governor Sarah Palin, energized Republicans in another key state,
"Now, Ohio Election Day is just hours away now and the time for
choosing is so near," she said. "Ohio, are you ready to help carry your state to
McCain trails in national polls and he faces an uphill fight in
winning several states that generally support Republican candidates. Both the
McCain and Obama campaigns are focused on a relatively small group of states in
the final hours that include Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North
Carolina, Indiana, Nevada and New Mexico. These states, where the race is still
too close to call, will be critical for either candidate to win the presidency,
which is determined though a state by state system called the electoral
Despite his lead in the national
polls, Obama is urging his supporters to take nothing for granted in the final
hours of the campaign.
Obama told supporters in Florida to reject what he
called the slash and burn attacks from the McCain campaign as the race draws to
"Florida, at this moment in this election, we have a chance to
rebuke that kind of politics, not just in the short term, we can end it once and
for all," he said. "We can prove that the thing that is more powerful than
negative campaigns is the will and determination of the American people. That is
what we are fighting for!"
No matter who wins Tuesday, election history
will be made. Senator Obama is poised to become the first African-American
president, while Senator McCain would be the oldest candidate to win a first
term as president. In addition, a Republican victory would usher in the
country's first woman vice president, Sarah Palin.
More than 23 million
Americans have already voted in more than 30 states that allow early in-person
voting. Democrats have been encouraged so far by a strong turnout in several key
states that allow early voting.
Norman Ornstein, a political analyst with
the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, says his recent travels suggest
Democrats are more enthusiastic and organized this year than the
"For those of us who travel around the country a lot these
days, as I do, the anecdotal evidence from the ground in state after state,
whether they are normally competitive states or noncompetitive states, is just
absolutely striking," he said.
Public opinion polls also suggest that no
matter who wins the White House on Tuesday, the next president will deal with
expanded Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives.