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US Presidential Campaign Down to Its Final Hours

President Bush and Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry both campaigned in the Midwest swing state of Wisconsin Monday, hoping to tip the balance in a race that is still tight just one day before voters go to the polls.

On the last day of what he says will be his last campaign, President Bush left nothing to chance with 19 hours on the road, rallying Republican supporters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, and Texas.

In Wisconsin, he told voters that he is excited about Tuesday's Election Day and is optimistic about the nation's future. "I see a great day coming for America, a day where prosperity reaches every corner of our country, a day where every child is able to read and write and add and subtract, a day in which this world of ours becomes more peaceful for our children and our grandchildren. Tomorrow the people of Wisconsin and America have a chance to bring that better day by voting for strong, confident and principled leadership. I am here asking for your vote," he said.

The latest CNN / USA Today / Gallup poll shows the president with an eight point lead in Wisconsin, which may be his best chance of picking-up a state he lost four years ago.

But Senator Kerry is clearly not conceding the state with his own rally just an hour after the president's. This last day of campaigning brought the candidates closer than they have been since their last debate, with the president's motorcade passing Senator Kerry's plane on the tarmac.

Both men are appealing to their electoral base in the campaign's final hours with Mr. Bush championing his opposition to abortion and gay marriage, issues where Mr. Bush says there is a big difference between himself and Mr. Kerry. "On these issues, my opponent and I are miles apart. He voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act even though most Democrats supported it," he said. "There is a mainstream in American politics and John Kerry sits on the far left bank."

Public opinion polls show that fighting terrorism remains the president's strongest issue with voters. Mr. Bush says he shown he has the leadership and determination to keep the nation safe. "All progress on every other issue depends on the safety of our citizens," he said. "The most solemn duty of the American President is to protect the American people. If this country shows uncertainty or weakness during these troubling times, this world of ours will drift toward tragedy. This is not going to happen on my watch."

After Wisconsin, the president had two rallies in Iowa where the Gallup poll shows him with a slight lead over Senator Kerry. He then rallies supporters here in New Mexico where the two candidates are statistically tied.

The president ends his day with a rally in his home state of Texas, which he is expected to win easily. Mr. and Mrs. Bush spend the night on their Texas ranch before voting Tuesday morning in a local firehouse.

The president and First Lady will make a brief stop in Ohio on their way back to the White House to await the outcome of a race that is still too close to call.