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Pennsylvania, Keystone State Key to Presidential Race


It was no accident that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry announced his choice for vice president in the northeastern state of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is one of the "battleground" states where Mr. Kerry and President Bush are intensely competing for votes.

Democrat Al Gore won the state in 2000, but Mr. Bush has targeted Pennsylvania for victory, visiting some 30 times since becoming president.

Pennsylvania voters are eager to hear what both he and Mr. Kerry have to say about the economy. Forty years ago, the state was a thriving center of steel and coal production. But many of the mines and mills have shut down, forcing young Pennsylvanians to go elsewhere for work and leaving much of the state with an aging population.

A major prize awaits the candidate who can carry the state in November. Under the U.S. election system, the candidate who wins a majority of votes in a state takes all of its "electoral votes," a majority of which are needed to claim the presidency.

And Pennsylvania has 21 electoral votes - more than all but four other states. The candidates are sure to make regular visits before the November election.

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