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The BBC's Phillippa Thomas
"Governor Bush has reason to be optimistic"
 real 56k

Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Bush calls in the big guns
John McCain and George Bush
John McCain lent his support to George Bush in Florida
US candidate George W Bush has brought retired General Colin Powell and former rival John McCain into his campaign as the battle for key states intensifies.

General Powell will campaign with Mr Bush on Thursday in Pennsylvania, the fifth largest state in electoral terms.

Al Gore
Mr Gore has distanced himself from President Clinton
His rival, Vice-President Al Gore, has a slight lead in this industrial state, but polls suggest he has been losing ground.

Many Democrats have urged him to enlist President Bill Clinton to help turn out the voters, but so far Mr Gore has declined to do so.

The Vice-President is spending Thursday in Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri, three states in which the vote is still too close to call.

Tight race

With 12 days to go before the elections, opinion polls are divided as to who has the lead. But the difference between them falls within the polls' margin of error.

Some polls give the Texas Governor, George Bush, a lead of between 2% and 5%.

Colin Powell
Retired General Powell: One of the big guns called in by Mr Bush
Others put Vice-President Gore ahead by 3%.

Both candidates have been focusing their efforts on states that should have been in the bag long ago.

Mr Bush spent Wednesday on a bus trip across Florida, where his brother Jeb is state governor.

Accompanying him was Mr McCain, his former rival in the primaries.

Florida's 25 votes constitute nearly 10 % of the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House.

Campaign strategists are looking at every eventuality, including whether it is possible for Mr Bush to lose Florida but win the race.

Vice-President Gore, meanwhile, started the day in his home state of Tennessee.

He has failed to establish a clear lead over Mr Bush there, despite the fact that Mr Gore and his father have both represented the state in Congress.

It is unusual for a candidate to have to fight for his home state, but Mr Gore says Tennessee is "always a state where you have to campaign hard".

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25 Oct 00 | Americas
Candidates fight for close states
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