- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2000

CHICAGO George W. Bush yesterday added new campaign stops amid growing confidence in his camp that he will capture most of the battleground states now considered tossups.
"We are adding events to our schedule for the weekend because we think we see opportunities in some states," Bush adviser Karen Hughes said.
While many national polls show a tight race, a source close to the Bush campaign said their own internal polls show him winning in most contested states.
Republicans now believe Mr. Bush will win Pennsylvania, Florida, New Mexico, Missouri, Oregon and Wisconsin all considered tossup states and are optimistic about carrying Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington, a source said. Only Michigan is still considered up for grabs in the Republican inner circle.
The Bush camp also said actions by Al Gore including a new television ad that questions Mr. Bush's fitness for the presidency show the vice president is feeling the heat with the election just five days away.
"Unfortunately, in the waning days of the campaign, sometimes candidates who feel things aren't going well try to throw a lot of negative attacks at you," said Mrs. Hughes.
While Mr. Bush faces an uphill battle in California and Illinois, where polls show Mr. Gore leading by at least five percentage points, Mr. Bush plans a stop in New Jersey on Saturday, where Mr. Gore's seemingly safe lead has faded recently.
Republican strategists say their polls show the race even in New Jersey a contention disputed by Democrats and are suggesting that Mr. Bush might be able to steal the state from Mr. Gore's column with a last-minute trip across the river from Philadelphia, where he had already been scheduled to visit.
But the Bush camp is not giving up on California.
"We're upbeat and optimistic but not complacent," said Mrs. Hughes. "We feel we have a good possibility in a number of states Oregon, Minnesota that have traditionally voted Democratic, including California. We feel if we're close in California as we approach Election Day, our organization and the motivation and enthusiasm of our people in California will bring us over the top."
Part of the optimism in the Bush camp, despite John Zogby's polls that showed the Republican trailing in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida, is that surveys show Republicans far more committed to voting on Tuesday than Democrats. A new MSNBC poll rates Republican voter "enthusiasm" at 58 percent, but only 32 percent for Democrats.
That enthusiasm was abundantly clear yesterday at Bush rallies. In St. Charles, Mo., supporters waving red, white and blue pompoms roared their approval as Mr. Bush pledged to cut taxes to "increase the wallets of people who are working for a living."
During his stop in Missouri, which polls show is in play, Mr. Bush told cheering throngs that he is the "leader this country looks for."
"Out of this administration, we may not have seen anything yet," Mr. Bush told about 7,000 supporters. "But out of a Bush administration, you'll see a leader who unites this country, a leader who calls upon the best for America. I believe I'm that leader."
Hammering home his theme that the Clinton-Gore administration needs to be expunged from office, Mr. Bush used the word "worried" at least eight times to describe his concerns for the status of education, health care and the military.
"I want to spend a little extra time talking about an important program called Medicare," said Mr. Bush. "It's time to reform that important program. It's time to quit all the talk and elect a president who will bring people together to reform this important program once and for all. I will be that president."
Later in the day, an energized crowd estimated by campaign staff at more than 23,000 greeted Mr. Bush in heavily Republican DuPage County, Ill. "It's been a great day, the crowds have been huge," said Mr. Bush. "We're going to confound the pundits. Illinois is Bush-Cheney country."
To blunt Mr. Gore's attacks on Social Security and Medicare, Mr. Bush yesterday warned that the Democrat wants to take the country on a fast track to government-run health care.
"He says he's for a step-by-step plan for universal coverage," Mr. Bush said in St. Charles. "No, folks. He's for a hop, skip and a jump to nationalized health care. He thought 'Hillary-care' made a lot of sense," Mr. Bush said, referring to the unpopular 1993 effort to overhaul the nation's health insurance system that was spearheaded by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Texas governor said seniors ought to be allowed to choose their own prescription drug coverage from a variety of options, including the current Medicare system.
"We'll help all seniors afford prescription drugs," said Mr. Bush. "He wants to force seniors into what's called 'prescription benefit managers.' He says it's not an HMO, but it certainly looks like an HMO and it quacks like an HMO. We ought to trust seniors with a variety of options."
Mr. Bush is also tapping into Republican sentiment in traditionally Democratic states like Minnesota with a populist message of less government regulation and interference. State Sen. Bob Lassard of Minnesota, an independent who left the Democratic Party, said the Clinton administration has alienated westerners and rural residents with its efforts at gun control and by declaring federal land off-limits from recreational activities, and limiting industries like logging.
At a Bush rally, Mr. Lassard compared the erosion of constitutional rights under Clinton-Gore to a frog being boiled in a pot. He said if you put a frog in boiling water, the frog will jump out.
But if you put it in cold water "and keep turning up the flames, and all of a sudden the frog is boiled, he doesn't even know what hit him."
"That's what's happened to our constitutional freedoms under this administration," Mr. Lassard explained. "We are the boiled frogs, and we've got to stop it."

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