Hilton Head, SC (CNSNews.com) - Arizona Senator John McCain worked his way up the South Carolina coast today, reaching out to the state's large veteran population and predicting that he'll win if lots of voters turn out in Saturday's Republican presidential primary.
Reacting to a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, which shows Texas Gov. George W. Bush leading McCain 52-40 percent, Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told supporters in Hilton Head to "not buy stock in that company." (The poll of 563 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 points; it was conducted Wednesday and Thursday nights.)
"If voter turnout is big, we'll win," said Graham.
McCain kicked off his last day of campaigning before the primary by telling supporters, "This is not a campaign, it's a crusade."
McCain returned to themes that he has raised earlier in his campaign, including campaign finance reform, government control by special interests, and the necessity of honoring the nation's veterans at a time when many of the older ones are fading from the scene.
"World War II veterans are leaving us at the rate of 30,000 per month," said McCain, "and it is a travesty that this nation does not provide them the healthcare and benefits that they need."
McCain assured his Hilton Head audience that he can bring Independents and Democrats into the Republican Party, unlike his opponent, George W. Bush. "Ronald Reagan preserved his core conservative principles while inviting everyone into the Republican Party," McCain said.
McCain also criticized Bush for what he called "a campaign of negativity."
"We've promised nothing but positive ads about our vision for the future... that's what you want, that's what you deserve."
McCain will campaign along the state's Atlantic Coast on Friday, making the most of his final day before Saturday's vote. The McCain campaign believes that it is especially strong in the South Carolina low country where the majority of the state's 353,000 veterans live.
Texas Gov. George W Bush will spend this day-before-the primary campaigning in Spartanburg, Clemson, and Greenville in the northern part of the state.