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Sunday, 3 November, 2002, 02:48 GMT
Big guns battle for mid-term votes
Jeb Bush (l) George Bush (c) Norman Schwarzkopf (r)
Bush: Battling for his brother in Florida
US President George W Bush and former President Bill Clinton have both descended on the key battleground state of Florida to woo voters ahead of Tuesday's crucial mid-term elections.


If they took it from you once, don't give it to them twice

Ex-President Bill Clinton
Mr Bush, who is on a 72-hour marathon tour of the most critical states in the elections, has been pushing for his younger brother Jeb to hold on to the Florida governorship, at a rally in Tampa.

Mr Clinton has been in Miami to rally voters there behind the Democrat challenger Mr McBride who has been gaining ground and now trails Jeb Bush by only eight points in the latest opinion polls.

Tuesday's elections, which take place across the nation, will decide who controls the House of Representatives, the Senate and 36 governors' offices.

Bitter memories

Mr Clinton reminded the Democrat faithful that Florida was the scene of a bitter recount battle in the 2000 presidential elections which finally ended in a paper-thin victory for Mr Bush.

Former US President Bill Clinton campaigning with Maryland Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Mr Clinton also campaigned in Maryland for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
"If they took it from you once, don't give it to them twice," he told the cheering crowds.

"Bill McBride is the best qualified person I've ever seen to run for governor," he said.

Mr Bush's former rival in the controversial presidential elections, Al Gore, is due to arrive in Florida on Sunday to lend his support for Mr McBride.

Earlier, Mr Clinton went to the state of Maryland to campaign for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who faces stiff competition from Republican candidate Robert Ehrlich for the governorship there.

Disenchantment

Mr Bush arrived in Florida on Saturday night, after stops in Atlanta, Georgia and Tennessee.

Open in new window : Voters' views
US residents tell us their views

In the next days, Mr Bush is also due to attend rallies in central and northern states such as Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota before returning to his home state of Texas for Tuesday's vote.

The US president will have visited 17 cities in 15 states by the day of the elections, which will determine control of the US Senate, currently held by the Democrats by a single seat.

President Bush has urged the US population to go out and exercise their right to vote, but turnout is expected to remain low, with many remaining disenchanted following the controversial 2000 presidential campaign.

Voter issues

Tuesday's vote will decide who sits in all 435 seats of the House of Representatives, and will determine 34 seats in the 100-member Senate and 36 of the 50 state governors.

Republicans are hoping to capitalise on the unprecedented levels of support for President Bush following the 11 September attacks in New York and Washington last year.

Democrats in turn are counting on the traditional mid-term swing against the president and his party, and have been aggressively campaigning on issues of business corruption, such as the Enron scandal, and worries over retirement costs and health and education.

However the economy, housing, health care, taxes and a range of domestic issues are also uppermost in voters' minds.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Bryant
"Bush believes the House and the Senate could soon be in his hands"
Prof. Robert Lieber, Georgetown university
"Most of the issues in play are local ones"

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03 Nov 02 | Americas
02 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
02 Nov 02 | Americas
21 Oct 02 | Americas
29 Oct 02 | Americas
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