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Bush heads south for final campaign swing

Bush's first stop is in the Florida Panhandle to stump for Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2006 17:47 IST

President George W Bush is using the last day of his 10-state campaign swing to flush out GOP and swing voters needed to keep Republicans sitting in the governor's offices of Florida, Arkansas and Texas.

Bush hits the campaign trail on Monday for the fifth consecutive day, travelling to states where his advisers believe he can best help fend off the Democratic threat to take over Congress and end up with a majority of governorships for the first time in 12 years.

"I'm now asking you when you go forth to find fellow Republicans and say you've got a responsibility to vote, but while you're doing it, don't overlook discerning Democrats and open-minded independents," Bush shouted at a GOP rally Sunday in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Later, at a campaign rally in Topeka, Kansas, he pleaded with supporters: "Go vote. Get your neighbors and friends to vote."

Bush's first stop is in the Florida Panhandle to stump for Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist -- who will not be there.

Crist decided to skip an appearance with Bush to spend Monday crisscrossing the state as the race to replace outgoing Gov Jeb Bush grew tighter.

His opponent, Democratic Rep Jim Davis, seized on the news. "Now that the president is so unpopular, Charlie refuses to stand side by side with him," Davis said Saturday.

"It says when the going gets tough, Charlie won't stand up."

Crist's chief of staff, George LeMieux, said the candidate already has strong support in the heavily Republican Pensacola area and thought his time would be better spent campaigning elsewhere.

LeMieux said the decision had nothing to do with the president's job approval ratings.

Jeb Bush, the president's brother, will attend the Pensacola event in Crist's place.

Rep Katherine Harris, who is mounting a lukewarm challenge to Democratic Sen Bill Nelson, will also be with the president.

Before the September primary, Republican leaders failed to support Harris.

After Florida, Bush is heading to Arkansas where the race for governor pits Democratic Attorney General Mike Beebe against Republican Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman and federal Homeland Security official.

The Beebe-Hutchinson faceoff for the open governorship already is the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in state history.

Overall, Beebe, who is leading in the polls, has raised $6.3 million and spent $5.7 million in his bid for governor.

Hutchinson, a former congressman, has raised nearly $3.3 million and spent about $3.1 million.

Before returning to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush is speaking at a rally in Dallas for Gov Rick Perry, who is leading the polls in his re-election bid.

On Election Day, Bush plans to vote in Crawford and then return to Washington to wait for ballot returns.

First Published: Nov 06, 2006 17:47 IST