U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are campaigning furiously Saturday, three days before the election. As VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington, Obama leads McCain in nationwide public opinion polls, and in several states that had voted Republican in recent presidential elections.
The eastern state of Virginia has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. But polls show Democrat Barack Obama leads Republican John McCain in Virginia, so McCain asked supporters in the port city of Newport News to help him reverse the trend. "We need to win Virginia on the fourth of November, and with your help we are going to win and bring real change to Washington. My friends, I need your help in the next three days," he said. "Volunteer. Knock on doors. With your help, we can and will win."
Senator McCain continued trying to distance himself from the policies of his fellow Republican, President George Bush, and promised to reform politics in Washington. "My country never has had to prove anything to me. I have always had faith in it. If I am elected president, as I said, we will fight to shake up Washington. We will take America in a new direction from my first day in office until my last. I am not afraid of the fight, I am ready for the fight," he said.
Senator Obama also spent Saturday campaigning in once-Republican states where he has gained in the polls. He leads McCain in Nevada and Colorado, and the two are effectively tied in Missouri. The Illinois Democrat also appealed to his supporters for help, in his party's weekly radio address. "I'm Barack Obama. If you give me your vote on Tuesday, we will not just win this election. Together, we will change this country and change the world," he said.
Obama assured voters he would govern very differently from Mr. Bush and tried to link McCain to the incumbent president. "In this election, the biggest gamble we can take is embracing the same old Bush-McCain policies that have failed us for the last eight years. We have tried it their way. It has not worked. It is time to turn the page," he said.
In the final days of the campaign, a composite of public opinion polls (Real Clear Politics) shows Obama leading McCain by 6.5 percent. McCain's aides have said their polling shows the Arizona Republican trailing by only four percent.
McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, spent Saturday campaigning in Florida, which also voted Republican in the last election but shows Obama leading this time. The Alaska governor promised that she and McCain would keep taxes low, create jobs and strengthen the economy. "And if you work hard, if you know what hard work feels like, and if you want to get ahead, and if you believe that America still is that land of possibilities, and you do not want your dreams dashed by the Obama tax plan increases, then Florida, we need your vote, we want to get to work for you," she said.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden attended events in Indiana and Ohio, where polls show the two candidates almost even.
The man Palin and Biden hope to replace, Vice President Dick Cheney, made a rare public appearance, campaigning for Republicans in his home state of Wyoming. Cheney said McCain is the right leader for this moment in history. "John is a man who understands the danger facing America. He is a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched. He is a man who is comfortable with the responsibility and has been since he joined the armed forces at the age of 17. He has earned our support and confidence, and the time is now to make him commander-in-chief," he said.
Wyoming is the nation's least-populous state, and has consistently voted for Republicans.
President Bush, meanwhile, has stayed away from the campaign trail. But in his weekly radio address, he encouraged Americans to vote, saying the U.S. democratic system is an example for the world. "Young democracies from Georgia and Ukraine to to Afghanistan and Iraq can look to the United States for proof that self-government can endure. And nations that still live under tyranny and oppression can find hope and inspiration in our commitment to liberty," he said.
Senator McCain was set to appear on the late-night television comedy program "Saturday Night Live." Governor Palin was a guest on the show in October.