- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2000

BENTONVILLE, Ark. George W. Bush ended his quest for the presidency yesterday on the home turf of Vice President Al Gore and President Clinton with a promise that "the greatness of the country lies ahead."
"People here know there's a better day ahead with my leadership in Washington, D.C.," Mr. Bush told a crowd of about 6,000 supporters in an open airport hangar in Mr. Clinton's home state.
"In one day, we're going to end the Clinton-Gore era," Mr. Bush said earlier in Tennessee, Mr. Gore's home state. "We're coming down the stretch, and I like what I feel. Let's get it done.
"The greatness of the country lies ahead. But it all requires a new leader."
At his final campaign stop last night in Arkansas his eighth stop here Mr. Bush was introduced to the crowd as the loudspeakers began to blare Mr. Clinton's trademark campaign song, "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)" by Fleetwood Mac.
But the song was interrupted as if a record were being ripped from the turntable and was replaced by the Who singing "Won't Get Fooled Again."
"We're here for a reason," he said. "We're here to ask for your help, and we're here to declare we're going to carry Arkansas."
The Texas governor, who today could become only the second man to be elected to follow his father into the White House, traveled to rallies in four traditionally Democratic states before returning to Austin.
The Republican nominee told voters in Chattanooga that his Democratic opponent is a Washington insider who has "strayed from his Tennessee roots."
"It's always important to have a place from which to run," said Mr. Bush. "I, of course, come from Texas and I plan to carry my home state. My opponent vows to carry his home state. He may win Washington, D.C., but he's not going to win Tennessee."
"He forgot where he's from," Mr. Bush added. "He trusts Washington. We trust the people."
The crowd of Tennesseans, mixed with a sizable number of Georgians from across the border, roared and broke into chants of "No more Gore."
The candidate was joined on stage by country music stars Loretta Lynn, Lee Greenwood and Billy Ray Cyrus, who sings the campaign's theme song, "We the People."
Earlier in the day, Republicans accused the Gore campaign of trying to bribe voters in homeless shelters in Milwaukee by offering them free cigarettes.
Channel 12 News in Milwaukee reported Sunday night that Gore campaign workers had offered homeless people at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission the cigarettes to get them to vote. A woman who identified herself as Connie Millstein of New York told Channel 12 she was "brought in" by the Gore campaign to conduct get-out-the-vote efforts.
The Bush campaign reacted angrily, and the Wisconsin Republican Party said it would file a complaint with the state elections board.
"Handing cigarettes to homeless people in an effort to entice them to vote is as wrong as wrong can be," said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer. He said Mrs. Millstein is "no ordinary Democrat" but a member of the Democratic National Committee who hosted a $25,000-per-couple fund-raiser for Mr. Gore in her Park Avenue home in November 1999.
Ben Ginsberg, legal counsel for the Bush campaign, said the action violates the state law that bars election bribery with items of $1 in value or more.
The Gore campaign told Channel 12 that the cigarette distribution was "not the kind of help we asked for and [is] the kind of help we flat out reject. [Campaign workers] have left the state and we will not advise them to return."
Mr. Bush's final day of the 16-month campaign began in Orlando, Fla., where he told reporters that he's optimistic about winning but stopped short of guaranteeing victory.
"We've laid the groundwork for victory," said Mr. Bush. "Now it's just a matter of getting the good folks to the polls. Tomorrow, I believe we're going to have a good day. People got to go vote."
He held a rally in Davenport, Iowa, earlier in the day and scheduled a night rally in Bentonville, Ark., in the heavily Republican Ozark region of Bill Clinton's home state, en route home to Texas. Democrats have won both Iowa and Arkansas in the past two presidential elections.
With turnout a critical factor in the tight race, both campaigns have been beseeching the party faithful to vote today. The Bush campaign is optimistic in part due to polls that have shown Republicans more committed than Democrats to voting this year. For example, in the hotly contested state of Florida, about 100,000 more absentee ballots were requested by Republicans than by Democrats, out of a total of more than 600,000 such ballots that were mailed.
The campaign's top political strategist, Karl Rove, said they had lobbied an aggressive absenteeballot campaign in many states and have seen similar advantages in the numbers of ballots requested "in most states where we can track absentee ballots."
Mr. Rove said Republicans are using the tactic this year to a much larger extent than in past presidential elections.
In Green Bay, about 2,000 supporters greeted Mr. Bush at the city's convention center. While the state has not voted for a Republican for president since 1984, Republican Gov. Tommy G. Thompson has convinced the Bush campaign that victory here is possible, though, and polls indicate a slight Bush lead.
"I think your good governor is right W does win Wisconsin," said Mr. Bush. "Laura and I have been here enough to maybe pay a few taxes."
Mr. Bush plans to vote around 11:30 this morning, Washington time. He will spend the day in Austin with his parents, former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara; twin daughters Jenna and Barbara, home from college; as well as his brothers, Jeb, governor of Florida; Marvin, Neil; and sister Dorothy.
More than 20,000 supporters are expected to gather at the state capitol in Austin tonight for what they hope is a victory celebration. The party will include a Tejano mariachi band, guitar legend Jimmy Vaughn, the South Austin Gospel Choir and Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The candidate will watch returns at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.
Though Al Gore was the running mate of the man who defeated his father in 1992, the governor made no direct references yesterday that yesterday, as he has refrained from doing throughout the campaign. He stuck to his script that he is the better candidate to lead efforts to reform Social Security, Medicare and education, and to rebuild America's military power.

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