President Bush and his challenger, Senator John Kerry, moved Friday to sum up their election campaigns. Election Day is Tuesday, although voters have already begun casting ballots in states that allow early voting. Polls show the race remains virtually even.
Having made their pitches for months, President Bush and Senator Kerry sought to, in the words of one campaign strategist, "close the sale" to prospective voters in crucial states.
Mr. Bush spoke at rallies in New Hampshire before heading to Ohio while Mr. Kerry stumped across the hotly contested state of Florida. Both men also opted for star power to help them in the final campaign days. Mr. Bush scheduled a joint appearance in Ohio with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film star who has a new political career as governor of California. Mr. Kerry ended his campaign day with a rally in Miami topped off by an appearance by rock icon Bruce Springsteen.
In their stops, the two contenders pulled together the thematic strands of their campaigns like lawyers making closing arguments to a jury.
Senator Kerry, the Democratic Party candidate, sounded his theme of a "fresh start for America." He pledged to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq and restore what he says is America's damaged credibility.
"I believe we begin by making certain the American people have the truth, and we do whatever it takes to lead our troops to success and bring them back home," said Mr. Kerry.
Mr. Kerry lashed out at what he characterized as the Bush Administration's favoritism for the wealthy and promised to help the middle class.
"And when they [the troops] do come home -- and they will when I'm president -- we begin by rebuilding an America with a strong middle class where everyone has a chance to work, and work at a job that allows you to pay your bills, get out of debt, get ahead, and do well in America," he added.
President Bush portrayed himself as stronger, more resolute, and better able to defend the United States from terrorist attacks than his opponent.
"I set a doctrine that these regimes are as equally guilty as the terrorists. When a president speaks, he must speak clearly and he must mean what he says," said Mr. Bush
Mr. Bush, the Republican Party candidate, said his administration's anti-terrorism strategy is working.
"Our strategy to win the war on terror is succeeding," Mr. Bush added. "We are shrinking the areas where terrorists can operate freely. We have the terrorists on the run. And so long as I am your president we'll be determined and steadfast and we will keep the terrorists on the run." The most recent polls show the presidential race is virtually even. Even Hawaii, a state that Democrats won by 20 points in the 2000 race, is in contention. Former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, and the current Republican Vice-President Dick Cheney have scheduled last minute campaign visits to the island state.
Although most attention is focused on the presidential race, Americans will also choose 11 governors, 34 U.S. senators and all 435 members of the House of Representatives in Tuesday's voting.