Conservative leadership contender David Cameron says claims that he is a "Tory Blair" are "rubbish".
He told BBC One's Sunday AM programme his aim was to "set people free", while Prime Minister Tony Blair was in politics "to tell people what to do".
Support for Mr Cameron has grown among Conservative members and the wider public, according to opinion polls.
Of 1,000 adults questioned by ICM for the BBC, 13% said he would be the best Tory leader, up from 4% last month.
Backing for top-placed Ken Clarke in the poll for the Politics Show fell from 40% to 27%; David Davis' backing - up three percentage points from 10% - matched Mr Cameron's.
Who would make the best leader of the Conservative Party?
Ken Clarke 27% (was 40%)
David Davis 13% (10%)
David Cameron 13% (4%)
Liam Fox 7% (3%)
Malcolm Rifkind 3% (4%)
None of these 8% (4%)
Don't know 30% (33%)
A YouGov/Sunday Times poll saw Mr Cameron move from third to first among 746 party members - support rose to 39% from 16% before the party conference.
Mr Clarke placed second in that poll with 26%, down from 30%, while support for third-placed Mr Davis more than halved from 30% to 14%.
Mr Cameron told Sunday AM his leadership bid had the signed support of 28 MPs.
Even if he won the contest, there was no "magic wand" or "one single thing" to get the party back into power.
YOUGOV/SUNDAY TIMES POLL
Who would you choose as Conservative Party leader?
David Cameron 39% (was 16%)
Ken Clarke 26% (30%)
David Davis 14% (30%)
Liam Fox 13% (13%)
Malcolm Rifkind 1% (4%)
He added: "People don't want a party that's trying to turn the clock back to 1997.
"They want us to understand what's changed and to be relevant today, for the challenges we're going to have as a country after Blair, because he's going.
"We're going to be facing Gordon Brown and I think all elections come down to a simple question: who's the party of the future, who's the party of the past?"
When asked whether he had smoked cannabis at university, Mr Cameron said only: "I did lots of things before I entered politics that I shouldn't have done."
He added that the Conservative Party had to have a "real long-term approach" to the issue of drugs.
Under leadership contest rules, members will be asked to choose between two candidates put forward by MPs.
Another contender, Liam Fox, told BBC One's Politics Show he was standing on a platform of "Thatcherism with a social conscience".
This involved being "robust on the economy", while being "compassionate" over social issues.
On the same show, Mr Davis warned the party against choosing a leader because he shares Tony Blair's presentational skills, cautioning that the country has become weary of New Labour's style of image-driven politics.
He said: "Anybody who tries to replicate that, people will just say it's another cynical politician."
He insisted he was not ready to indulge in "charlatanry" to win the Conservative leadership and acknowledged he faced a struggle to persuade voters that he cared about them.
The winner will be announced on 6 December.