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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bush rallies support for Republicans on final day of campaigning

WASHINGTON (REUTERS)–On the final day of a tense campaign for control of Congress Monday, President Bush tried to rally Republican voters in four key states while candidates in Minnesota’s high-profile Senate race debated their experience.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 34 of 100 Senate seats and 36 state governorships are at stake Tuesday in an election that will decide who rules Congress, with the fate of Bush’s legislative agenda and judicial nominations hanging in the balance ahead of the 2004 White House race.

With his presidential clout on the line, Bush worked to rally enthusiasm for Republicans in tight races in Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and his home state of Texas in a last-ditch drive to keep the party’s six-seat edge in the House and overtake the Democrats’ one-seat control of the Senate.

Big-name Democrats like former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt also fanned out across the country to boost Democratic turnout, hoping it could spell the difference in tight battles.

About 10 tight Senate races and a few dozen House races will determine control of Congress, with Republicans slightly favored to hold the House and the Senate up for grabs.

“Round people up to vote,” Bush said at a Bentonville, Ark. rally for Republican incumbent Sen. Tim Hutchinson, who trails in the polls against Democrat Mark Pryor.

“A lot of those political pundits, the big talkers, that said to the world ‘Hutchinson can’t win’ … prove them wrong on Tuesday,” Bush said.

In the closely watched Minnesota Senate race, Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Walter Mondale held the only debate of their unprecedented five-day campaign on Monday, squaring off for an hour on live television throughout the state and on some national cable news channels.

Mondale, 74, a former vice president, senator and presidential nominee, stepped into the race last week to replace Sen. Paul Wellstone just days after the lawmaker died in a small plane crash.

Both candidates were aggressive, clashing on federal judges, the war on terrorism, Iraq, abortion and a range of issues. Coleman, 53, the former mayor of St. Paul, questioned if Mondale could lead the state after being out of public office for two decades.

Coleman said voters should ask, “Who is best prepared with a vision for the future, with the energy and vitality to move that vision forward?”

Mondale agreed the election was a question about the future, but asked, “Which future?” He said his experience gave him an edge, and he linked Coleman with conservative Republican policies and judicial nominees.

“I’ve served this state all my life, and I’m ready to serve again if the public wants me,” Mondale said.

History of Democrats

Democrats hope history–the party in power in the White House traditionally loses seats in midterm elections–and voter unease about the economy work to their advantage. But public opinion polls show little evidence the nation’s lackluster economic performance is hurting Republicans.

With Democrats fighting an uphill battle in the House, the Senate has grabbed the political spotlight. Republican incumbents are on shaky ground in Colorado, Arkansas and New Hampshire, while Democratic incumbents are in trouble in Missouri, South Dakota and Georgia.

The fights for Republican open seats in North Carolina and Texas have tightened in recent weeks, and new polls in the closely watched Minnesota race show divergent results. Two polls released Sunday had Mondale with a slight lead; another showed Coleman was ahead.

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura named independent Dean Barkley Monday to temporarily fill Wellstone’s Senate seat in a lame-duck congressional session until the winner of Tuesday’s election is certified.

Democrats tried to rally support down the stretch. Gephardt appeared at a rally with Carnahan, and Daschle stumped South Dakota for endangered Democratic incumbent Sen. Tim Johnson.

Gore appeared at a south Florida rally with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride, who is challenging Bush’s brother, Jeb, in the Florida governor’s race. Clinton appeared with Democratic candidates in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Both parties hope get-out-the-vote efforts could play a role in Tuesday’s outcome. Republicans, having seen Democrats’ success in the last two elections in getting voters to the polls, began a 72-hour turnout blitz Sunday.

But Democrats said Republicans could not match their turnout effort, which is supported by organized labor and boosts participation by core Democratic groups like union workers and African-Americans.

Democrats hope to pick up three to seven of the state chief executive’s offices, giving them a majority and a strong organizational and fund-raising base for the 2004 campaign.

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