Pittsburgh (CNSNews.com) - In the grueling last days of his campaign for the presidency, Republican nominee George W. Bush showed no signs of slowing down at a rally in Pittsburgh Saturday when he bounced down the steps from his plane and jogged across the tarmac to greet a crowd estimated at more than 10,000 in an airplane hangar chanting, "We want Bush."
In one of his final two stops in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, an energized Bush promised an overflowing crowd at Pittsburgh International Airport that he would carry the state's crucial 23 electoral votes, promising that "in three days, help is on the way."
Accompanying Bush was retired Gen. Colin Powell, who was not scheduled to make the appearance. As in the past, Bush intimated that, if elected, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would be part of a Bush Administration.
"With only three days to go, I'm not going to be offering anybody new jobs," Bush said. "But let me put it to you this way: I'm glad Colin Powell is here."
Bush focused on the same themes as in his other campaign stops, including military readiness, social security, a new health coverage program and lowering taxes.
In the waning days of the campaign, both Bush and his opponent, Vice President Al Gore, have been sharper in their criticisms of each other, and Saturday's rally was no different for the Texas governor.
Bush warned voters of another four years of Clinton-like government if Gore is elected, quoting from a Clinton speech delivered last week in Los Angeles, where the president told supporters that if Gore is elected, it would be like having Clinton for another four years.
"My opponent has spent a lot of time trying to break out of the shadow of the president," Bush said. "But, as I was reading the newspaper the other day, the shadow's back."
Bush went on to urge the crowd to work hard in the last three days of the campaign to insure he wins Pennsylvania. Admitting that Gore is a formidable competitor, Bush couldn't resist making a jab at the vice president's claims about the Internet.
"I am running against some tough competition. He's a confident man and even claims to have invented the Internet," Bush said. "But Mr. Vice President, I'm sorry, every Internet address starts with 'Dubya. As a matter of fact, three Dubya's!'"
In the last few weeks of campaigning, Bush has ended each campaign speech with the words of the presidential oath of office, promising that if elected, he will "uphold the honor and integrity of the office to which I have been elected."
Bush at the Intersection of Character and DUI
As many recent polls show, Bush's message of integrity seems to be resonating with voters because character is among the issues that matters to many voters.
Rich Bernardelli, a salesman from Beaver County, PA said he is voting for Bush because he thinks the governor would restore trust and honor to the White House.
"I trust Bush a lot more than I would Al Gore," Bernardelli said. "I think he is a real man who can stand on his own two feet. I also think he will make a great statesman."
When others were asked about the recent revelation that Bush was arrested in Maine 24 years ago for driving under the influence of alcohol, they said it would not sway their vote away from Bush and could make them more likely to vote for him.
"All of us have made mistakes in the past," said Ruth Boots, a retired waitress from Ellwood County, PA. "The fact that he did not use his daddy's name to get off the hook says a lot about his honesty and integrity. Compare that to what Clinton did, and it is
GOP Hoping for Return of Reagan Democrats
Boots, who said she has voted both Democratic and Republican in the past, is among the large number of Pennsylvania swing voters the GOP hopes will cast their ballot for Bush Tuesday.
According to the Pennsylvania Republican Party, voters who are registered Democratic outnumber Republicans by a margin of 2.5-to-1. However, recent polls show Bush and Gore in a virtual dead heat among Pennsylvania voters, buoying Republican hopes of carrying the state.
The supporters who came to hear Bush Saturday feel confident they can deliver Pennsylvania's electoral votes to Bush. "I think we are going to sweep Pennsylvania," said Woody McVicker, a Marine Corps veteran. "In fact, I think the margin is going to be
bigger than most people expect."
Saturday marked Bush's fifth campaign stop in Pittsburgh since the Republican National Convention in July, but the city has been receiving political attention from more than just the top of the ticket during the past week.
Bush's running mate, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, was campaigning in the area earlier in the week, and Bush's mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, spoke at a luncheon in Pittsburgh Friday.