In the closing days of the U.S. presidential race, Democratic candidate John Kerry continues to hammer away at Republican President George Bush on his handling of Iraq and the domestic economy. On Thursday, Senator Kerry campaigned in the key Midwest swing states of Ohio and Wisconsin.
At a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Senator Kerry got a little help from the rock superstar known as "the Boss", Bruce Springsteen.
"Well, the future is now, and it is time to let your passions loose. So, let's roll up our sleeves. That is why I am here today," the singer said. "To stand alongside Senator Kerry and to tell you that the country we carry in our hearts is waiting, and together we can move America towards her deepest ideals. And besides, we had a sax player [former President Bill Clinton] in the house. We need a guitar player in the White House!"
Earlier in Toledo, Ohio, the chant was "five more days," and Senator Kerry was in an upbeat mood, after his hometown Boston Red Sox had won baseball's World Series championship after an 86-year drought.
"About a year ago, when things were not going so well in our campaign, somebody called a radio talk show and said, thinking they were just cutting me right to the quick, 'John Kerry won't be president until the Red Sox win the World Series.' Well, we are on our way! We are on our way!" he exclaimed.
Mr. Kerry continues to hammer away at the president's handling of Iraq, including the disappearance of 350 metric tons of conventional explosives that he says now pose a threat to U.S. troops in Iraq.
Senator Kerry says the case of the missing explosives is the latest example of a series of mistakes in Iraq, mistakes that he says President Bush stubbornly refuses to acknowledge.
Mr. Kerry cited the example of the late President John Kennedy, who accepted responsibility for the failed U.S. backed invasion of Cuba by anti-Castro forces in 1961, known as the Bay of Pigs.
"John Kennedy knew how to take responsibility for the mistake he made. And Mr. President, it is long since time for you to start taking responsibility for the mistakes that you have made," Sen. Kerry said.
Public opinion polls have long indicated that Iraq is a major issue in this year's campaign, and random interviews with voters at Kerry rallies tend to back that up.
Pat Nulty is worried about his son James who is with the U.S. Army in Iraq. He attended a Kerry rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"I just know they [Kerry and the Democrats] will do a better job," he said. "I have confidence in him [Kerry]. My son is over in Iraq right now, and he has got confidence in him. A lot of the soldiers he is with have confidence in him."
Others are more pessimistic about Iraq, no matter who wins the election. Kevin Moine lives in Strawberry Point, Iowa.
"I don't think we need to be there. We need to get out of there," he said. "Those people over there are going to fight each other for the rest of their lives and the rest of our lives. And us being over there is not going to change anything."
With the polls continuing to show a very tight race, both Senator Kerry and President Bush are focused on two main goals in the final days leading up to Election Day. Both men want to energize their core supporters to get out and vote, and they want to make one more appeal to voters who, even at this late hour, have not made up their minds.