Campaigns Across The U.S.: Attack Ads In Fla.

With the election just a day away, across the country, political campaigns are focused on one objective — mobilizing their voters. On the airwaves and at rallies, candidates are trying to close the deal and energize their supporters to get out to the polls. In Florida, attack ads have helped drive up the negative ratings of some candidates.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

With the election just a day away, across the country, political campaigns are focused on one objective - mobilizing votes.

MONTAGNE: On the airwaves and at rallies, candidates are trying to close the deal and energize their supporters to get out to the polls.

INSKEEP: And this morning we're going to report on those last-minute efforts in three states, beginning in Florida with NPR's Greg Allen in Miami.

GREG ALLEN: Bus traffic was up in Florida this weekend, not from Greyhound but from the political candidates. Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio, Independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott are all on cross-state tours, holding get out the vote rallies at every stop. Even if they haven't chartered buses, the other statewide candidates are all doing the same. But the real congestion caused by Florida politics isn't on the roads, but on the airwaves.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Unidentified Woman: Newspapers say Florida made bad investments, lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Billions in pension funds lost. Who was in charge of Florida's investments? Alex Sink.

ALLEN: For weeks in his campaign ads, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott has relentlessly attacked his opponent, Democrat Alex Sink. And she's returned the favor.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Unidentified Man #1: Take it from prosecutors who know, Rick Scott just can't be trusted.

Unidentified Man #2: Scott claims he didn't know the company he led was systematically defrauding Medicare, ripping off seniors and taxpayers.

ALLEN: Those ads have helped drive up the negative ratings of both candidates, but particularly for Scott. Two recent polls show more than half of Floridians view him negatively. So in the closing days of the campaign there's a new Scott ad on the air.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Mr. RICK SCOTT (Republican gubernatorial candidate, Florida): In this election, November 2nd, Florida will change.

(Soundbite of cheering)

This is our time. This is our time to change this state.

ALLEN: It's the same with Sink. Negative ads scored to dark, threatening music, have giving way to soaring strings and U2-inspired rock anthems.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Ms. ALEX SINK (Democrat gubernatorial candidate, Florida): If you want honesty and integrity, if you're ready for a new day in Florida, then you come with me.

(Soundbite of cheering)

ALLEN: But ads aside, in the governor's race, the Senate and all the congressional and legislative races in Florida, the battle now is in the trenches, on the phones and in door-to-door canvassing. The Florida Democratic Party has a statewide campaign modeled after the successful Obama get out the vote effort in 2008, with volunteers and staff deployed across the state.

Florida's Republican Party this year, by contrast, is not as well prepared. Scandals have hurt the party's fundraising and forced it to cut back its spending, including on the important get out the vote effort.

That means it's largely up to Republican candidates to get their voters out to the polls. To that end, Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio has also taken a break from attacks; seeking, instead, to inspire.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Mr. MARCO RUBIO (Republican Senate candidate, Florida): And that's why I'm running for the Senate, to change the direction Washington is taking our country, so that my four children can be a part of one of the great generations in American history.

ALLEN: Several points behind Rubio in the final days of the campaign, Crist has stuck to attacks, calling Rubio a radical, right-wing Republican who wants to quote, "balance the budget on the backs of seniors."

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

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