In Last Days, Candidates Gear Up For Election Day

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NPR's Scott Horsley, with the McCain campaign in Pennsylvania, and Don Gonyea, with Obama in Ohio, speak with host Andrea Seabrook.

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

NPR's Scott Horsley and Don Gonyea have been virtually tethered to the two candidates for the last few months. We caught up with both of them earlier today. Scott was at a McCain event in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

SCOTT HORSLEY: This is the second of two campaign rallies that John McCain is holding here in Pennsylvania today. He held a third yesterday. Pennsylvania is the blue state that he sees the best chance of scoring an upset and capturing the 21 electoral votes here for the Republican column.

SEABROOK: And over to you, Don. You're with Senator Obama in Ohio. What's been on his itinerary today?

DON GONYEA: Well, this is a red state that he hopes to put in the blue column. He's doing this last weekend push here by hitting Ohio's three major cities. We started out with a big rally, 60,000 people, in the shadow of the state house in Columbus. Then we go to Cleveland, and then we end tonight in the more Republican part of the state, in the south, in Cincinnati.

SEABROOK: Now, in just a couple of minutes, we're going to talk with Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center about the latest and last polls of this election, get a bigger picture of it. But clearly, John McCain anyway is saying that this race is tightening. Scott, what's he doing in Pennsylvania to take advantage of that?

HORSLEY: That's right, Andrea. The McCain camp says they're seeing tightening all across the country. And they've long said that they believe Pennsylvania is more competitive than the public polls would suggest. Their strategy here is to drive as much voter turnout as they can in western Pennsylvania and the central part of the state, which are the more conservative, Republican-leaning parts of the state. And then also try to pick off enough independent and conservative Democrat voters in the suburbs of Philadelphia to offset what they expect to be a sizeable margin for Barack Obama in the city of Philadelphia.

So, John McCain has been spending a lot of time in the suburbs of Philadelphia over the last couple of weeks. We were there this morning in Wallingford, and they say that they feel they're getting a shift in momentum in their direction.

SEABROOK: I'm interested to know, in these last days, these last hours of the campaign, have you guys heard anything new or different from either candidate today, Don?

GONYEA: Not really today. Senator Obama is really hammering the fact that Vice President Cheney came out and urged people to vote for John McCain. That was a bit of a gift to the Obama campaign because they've always tried very hard to link John McCain to the Bush administration, and Dick Cheney is helping them do that.

The only new thing we're getting are some new jokes. Senator Obama said that John McCain is not a maverick, he's more of a sidekick, and then he said he's like Kato to the Green Lantern. Comic book fans out there will know, though, that he botched the reference. It was the Green Hornet, he should have said. So - but that's as new as it gets today.

SEABROOK: And over to you, Scott. I guess McCain just came off "Saturday Night Live," huh?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HORSLEY: That's right, but on the campaign trail, he's not even telling new jokes. We're hearing the same jokes we were hearing in the primary. He continues to hammer away at the themes that Barack Obama is a tax-and-spend liberal and untested to deal with a threatening international crisis. These are themes he's been sounding for weeks, so if, in fact, there is any last-minute shift in momentum, it's not because John McCain is doing anything differently on the stump. Perhaps voters are just sensing something different.

SEABROOK: And Scott and Don, where will McCain and Obama spend their final day on the campaign, each of them?

GONYEA: Well, we will sleep in Florida tonight for a big rally first thing in the morning in Jacksonville, Florida. Obviously, it's Florida, so no need to say why he's going to be there. And then it's to North Carolina, another red state that Senator Obama hopes to pick off, and the final rally of this campaign will be in Manassas, Virginia for Senator Obama on Monday night.

SEABROOK: And Scott, McCain?

HORSLEY: John McCain will also be in Florida tonight, but he won't be sleeping much. He has a midnight rally in Miami, and then an early start tomorrow because he will hit seven battleground states on his way to his home in Arizona.

SEABROOK: NPR's Scott Horsley and Don Gonyea. Thanks, guys.

GONYEA: Good to be with you.

SEABROOK: All right, it's a pleasure.

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