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Page last updated at 08:36 GMT, Sunday, 2 November 2008

US campaign nears final straight

John McCain criticises the Democrats' "tax and spend" approach

With just two full days of campaigning left before the United States chooses a new president, the two candidates are undertaking a final push for votes.

Democrat Barack Obama still holds a lead in polls, but one survey suggests Republican John McCain is moving up.

Mr Obama will attend rallies in the key swing state of Ohio later on Sunday.

Mr McCain is focusing campaign efforts in neighbouring Pennsylvania, having appeared on the TV comedy show Saturday Night Live.

He played on his reputation as a maverick and the reality of being outspent on the campaign trail by Mr Obama.

"I'm a true Republican maverick: a Republican without money," Mr McCain joked, pretending to introduce a sale of campaign-related products on shopping channel QVC - chosen, he told viewers, because the McCain-Palin campaign could not afford nationwide network TV coverage like Mr Obama.

Campaigning in Virginia earlier, the Arizona senator told voters: "We can and will win".

For his part, Mr Obama told voters in Nevada they had "three days to turn the page".

Crucial states

Both campaigns have thousands of volunteers working flat-out manning phone banks, handing out brochures and knocking on doors.

Barack Obama on changing "the country and the world"

Mr Obama, who also made appearances in Colorado and Missouri on Saturday, has warned against complacency and urged Democratic supporters to vote.

"Don't believe for a second this election is over," the Illinois senator told a 15,000-strong crowd in Henderson, Nevada.

"But I know this, Nevada, the time for change has come. We have a righteous wind at our back."

The candidates have been focusing on states seen as crucial to their chances of winning Tuesday's election.

Speaking to supporters in Newport News, Virginia, Mr McCain questioned Mr Obama's readiness to lead in the face of such "grave threats" as al-Qaeda and the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Gavin Hewitt
This is the time of anxiety where events and statements should be treated with most caution
Gavin Hewitt

He also attacked the Illinois senator's tax plans.

"He's running for redistributor-in-chief, I'm running for commander-in-chief," said Mr McCain.

After a lunchtime rally in Springfield, Virginia, Mr McCain headed to Perkasie, Pennsylvania, in the afternoon.

Analysts say the 72-year-old Republican needs to win in Pennsylvania - where he is behind in state polls - to have a chance.

Obama's aunt

Mr Obama, 47, has extended his campaign advertising into traditionally Republican territory, running advertisements in Georgia, North Dakota and Arizona - his rival's home state.

LATEST POLLS
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Polls in Virginia, Nevada and Colorado, all of which favoured the Republicans four years ago, put the Democrats ahead.

Missouri - where the Democrats currently hold a slim poll lead - is seen as a vital state to win because of its record of backing the eventual winner in almost every election since 1904.

Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was campaigning in Florida, a battleground state which voted Republican in 2004, but where an early Republican poll lead has been whittled away.

On Saturday, it was revealed the Alaska governor had been duped by a prank call in which a Canadian radio presenter successfully convinced her for five minutes that he was French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Meanwhile, it was reported that a Kenyan aunt of Mr Obama was living in Boston illegally, after an immigration judge rejected her request for asylum four years ago.

Mr Obama said he did not know the aunt, Zeituni Onyango, was in the country illegally, adding that the laws covering the situation should be followed.

High turnout?

President George W Bush, in his last weekly radio address before his successor is chosen, urged citizens to use their vote on 4 November.

ELECTION DAY ON THE BBC
Join us on 4 November to follow the news as America votes, including:
Live text updates through the day and night, with input from BBC correspondents around the US
Results as they come in, on a live updating map, from midnight GMT
Streaming video of the BBC election night programme in Washington
Analysis from BBC North America editor Justin Webb in Washington, and Gavin Hewitt and Matthew Price at the candidates' HQs

Polling officials are expecting some 130 million Americans to vote, says the BBC's North America editor Justin Webb reports - a turnout which would be higher than in any election since 1960.

In a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Saturday, Mr Obama's lead had narrowed, scoring 49% to Mr McCain's 45%.

Our correspondent says despite the McCain camp claiming their candidate is only four points behind in national polls, his problem remains that in many must-win states, he is further behind.

No Republican has ever been elected without winning Ohio, where Mr McCain appears to be five points adrift, our correspondent adds.

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Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
365
McCain - Republican
173
Select from the list below to view state level results.

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