WESTERVILLE, Ohio - With the latest polls showing the race to be a dead heat, Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich personally knocked on doors and rallied the party faithful entering the campaign's final hours.
"Just when we think we've knocked on the last door, we're going to knock on a few more doors," Mr. Kasich said as he walked a Worthington neighborhood north of Columbus.
Mr. Kasich voiced confidence, saying he's seeing a lack of interest on the Democratic side despite weekend visits from President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former President Bill Clinton in support of his opponent, Gov. Ted Strickland.
He called the turnout Saturday for Mr. Clinton in Columbus "pretty pathetic." "It's a lack of intensity," he told supporters in a New Albany backyard. "I expect to see more [Democratic] protesters [at Kasich events]. … It's like six guys and a truck."
Public Policy Polling released numbers Sunday putting the two candidates one percentage point apart, and a Columbus Dispatch
mail poll had a 2-point margin. In both, Mr. Kasich was ahead, but the results were well within the margins of error, making the race a statistical tie two days before voters go to the polls tomorrow.
After a morning interview on Fox News and lifting weights, the GOP candidate went door-to-door Sunday in the Columbus suburbs and rallied with supporters in his hometown of Westerville and the state's first capital, Chillicothe. The campaign will wrap up with a series of rallies today, ending in Cincinnati.
Mr. Kasich said he doesn't worry about the impact of the higher-profile weekend rallies designed to turn out the vote for Mr. Strickland.
"[Mr. Obama] made 12 visits. He should be ahead by now," he said. "... They're not coming 12 times because they're ahead. … Frankly, people show up for Obama not because they're for anybody else. They show up for Obama because they want to see a president.''
At the Westerville rally of about 300 people, Mr. Kasich urged supporters to "leave no stone unturned" in getting out the vote that will decide this election.
"Folks, this is our moment," he said. "It's not often in life and politics that you have a moment like this. This is a moment to take back the state, and let me tell you, we will get this job done. … Here in Ohio, we're going to fix the numbers and we are going to restore the culture of the greatness of the Buckeye State."
Janet Davis of Westerville attended that rally and said it's time to try something different in Ohio. She's attracted to Mr. Kasich's message on job creation, reforming workers' compensation, and privatizating some government functions.
"I don't think that [Mr. Strickland] has lived up to everything he wanted to do, but granted there's been a lot going on in our economy that I'm sure he wasn't expecting," she said. "I think he's been very deliberate in the process, the way the monies have come in from the federal government, but I'm just not sure that stimulus jobs are the way to go to pull us out of this deficit we have. … I think [electing Mr. Kasich] is worth a try at this point."
While working the streets in Worthington, Mr. Kasich passed by the home of Bostwick Wyman, whose lawn prominently displayed a sign for Mr. Strickland. Mr. Wyman is a 69-year-old retired Ohio State University mathematics professor whose wife is blind.
"We're really worried about what's going to happen with the state budget," he said. "We want the safety net to be supported as much as possible. We have no confidence that Mr. Kasich will have any sympathy. … There have to be budget cuts, and to tell the honest truth, I don't think that Governor Strickland, if he gets re-elected, will be able to preserve as much of the safety net as I want to see either."
On the campaign trail, Mr. Kasich has talked about "low-hanging fruit" that can be immediately plucked if he takes office to help deal with the state's next two-year budget. Independent groups have estimated that the revenue shortfall could be as much as $8 billion.
When asked for specifics about that "low-hanging fruit" Sunday, Mr. Kasich said, "No, not today. I'm campaigning to get out the vote today."
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