All you need to know in the final week before the US mid-term elections, with news of key races, issues, quotes and pictures.
For the latest at-a-glance update each day, bookmark this page.
President George W Bush has begun his final campaign drive ahead of the 7 November polls, with the aim of boosting turnout for embattled candidates in 10 traditionally staunchly Republican states.
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In Montana, where Senator Conrad Burns narrowly trails Democratic challenger Jon Tester, and in Denver, Mr Bush focused on attacking the opposition's policy on Iraq. He also warned that Democrats would raise taxes and block the appointment of conservative judges to the Supreme Court.
The next five days will take Mr Bush to Nevada, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Florida and Texas - all states he won in the 2004 presidential race. His itinerary for the most part avoids key battleground states.
Meanwhile, the Democrats lead in the race for six of the seven most vulnerable Republican-held Senate seats, according to Reuters/Zogby polls released on Thursday.
Democrats in the House have also expanded their advertising efforts into numerous races once thought safe for Republicans. At the same time, the Republicans are hoping to reduce their losses by attacking a handful of seats where the Democrat incumbents look weak.
As for Senator John Kerry's "botched joke" over the Iraq war, political analysts say it may have briefly energised Republicans, but overall has done little harm to the Democrats' prospects. The biggest damage may be to Mr Kerry's own chances of running in the 2008 presidential race.
Even in an election where President Bush is not on the
ballot, he is on the ballot. This is really a referendum
Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, senior Democrat on the Senate Armed
If you want good, sound, conservative judges who will not legislate from the bench, you send Republicans back to the United States Senate
President George W Bush, campaigning in Montana and Nevada
NUMBERS OF NOTE
Spending by candidates in the 2006 mid-terms has jumped by more than a third overall compared to 2004, according to the US Federal Election Commission.
Those standing in the 2006 mid-terms, in both House and Senate, have raised $1.14bn and spent $965.7m in the current two-year period, the commission says, an increase in expenditure of 36% over the comparable period in 2004.
Meanwhile between 18 October and 1 November, national Republican committees report spending $50m to support House and Senate candidates, compared with $38m spent by Democratic Party committees over the same period, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.
This will have eaten into the $18m cash advantage held by the Republicans two weeks earlier, says the institute, a non-partisan research group.
Unusually, the number of competitive House seats has gone up during campaigning, forcing both sides to make "hard decisions" over the final days as they prioritise resources, the institute report adds.
Both the Republican and Democratic parties are set to spend still more, with millions of dollars pouring into last-minute television advertising.
On Wednesday alone, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $12.4m on advertising in 36 districts, while the National Republican Congressional Committee spent $5.9m in 17 districts, a report in the Washington Post says.
KEY RACES COUNTDOWN
Democratic challengers lead the Senate incumbents in Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, the latest Reuters/Zogby polls suggest, although only in the last two is the gap outside the margin of error. Missouri continues to be the closest of races.
Democrat Harold Ford Jr has fallen behind Republican Senator Bob Corker in the race for the Tennessee Senate seat, according to the Reuters/Zogby poll. However, a survey released by the Democrats showed Mr Ford in the lead.
In Connecticut, Senator Joseph Lieberman - running as an independent after he lost the Democratic primary - maintains a lead over anti-war Democratic challenger Ned Lamont, polls suggest.
Republican Michael Steele appears to be closing the gap on Democratic rival Paul Cardin in the race to replace Maryland's retiring Democratic senator, surprising some observers.
As many as three dozen House races remain competitive to the end, with the Republicans fighting to hold on to seats in states including Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. Republican morale has been boosted by an apparent upturn in districts affected by the Mark Foley and Tom DeLay scandals.
For more, see our state-by-state map.
New York Times This election, modest tour for president
Washington Post: TV ads rushed out for final campaign blitz
Billings Gazette (Montana): Bush touts Burns, Republicans in Billings
For more commentary, see our mid-terms blog.
IMAGE OF THE DAY
On the opening day of his big campaign drive, George W Bush told the crowd it was "nice to be in a part of the country where the cowboy hats outnumbered the ties"