Newington, NH (CNSNews.com) - Texas Governor George W Bush hosted a Super Bowl party Sunday night, hoping to score some political points with the 600 Granite State voters who turned out to feast on Texas style ribs, beans and very big hot dogs.
Held in the Pan American Airways hangar at the Pease International Tradeport (a former Strategic Air Command base turned into an industrial park and airport), the event was yet another opportunity for Bush to marshal voter already committed to him and to persuade the many uncommitted citizens to vote for him Tuesday.
Joined by U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, former rival Elizabeth Dole and U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass of New Hampshire as well as his wife Laura and other family members, Bush spoke for only a few minutes, spending most of his time shaking every willing hand, posing for pictures and otherwise rallying the troops.
"We're coming down to the final hours," said the governor. "I feel the energy and excitement in the state."
"When you go to vote, take someone with you. Take about 10 people with you," he jokingly admonished the audience.
The Texan made a special pitch to the undecided and Independent voters, whom he calls "tire kickers," and then proceeded to repeat sections of his by now familiar stump speech.
While he offered no specifics concerning his tax plan, a clear disappointment to many of the undecided voters on the audience, Bush received his biggest applause line when he announced, "I'm gonna cut the taxes," and then castigated rival John McCain for "being willing to mimic the tax plan of (Vice President) Al Gore."
The governor also received loud applause when he said, "I'm running to restore dignity to the White House."
While Bush said almost nothing of substance Sunday night, taxes were on the mind of many in his audience, including all of the Independents interviewed for this story.
"I'm paying more than 40 percent of my income to some level of government. I'm tired of it and I want to hear more about his tax plan," said John Garvey of Manchester. "Taxes will probably decide what I'll do when I vote."
Taxes were also on the mind of Marilyn Dresch of North Hampton. The retired public school guidance counselor said she is still debating between Bush and McCain. She said she also likes the flat tax plan of publisher Steve Forbes, but added, "I don't believe Forbes can win. I think Bush can win in November and that's what I look for."
"I also like John McCain because he speaks with integrity and commitment and is straightforward," she added.
"I decided this weekend to support Bush," said Gregg Selesky, of Laconia. Selesky said he also gave serious consideration to Forbes and Alan Keyes, but settled on Bush because, "It matters to me that we win and I feel Bush can win."
In Peterborough, where he held his 114th and final town meeting, McCain told an estimated 1,000 people, "I am fully prepared to lead. I am fully prepared to assume the responsibilities of commander-in-chief. I do not need any on-the-job training."
The Arizona Republican described his tax plan, which as come under increased attack from Bush and Bush surrogates, as being "conservative and rational" and one which will "not lay debts and obligations on the next generation of Americans."
McCain also made a strong appeal to veterans around the state, telling a group in Franklin that their vote could well decide the outcome of Tuesday's election. "I need you again to go on one more mission with me."
Publisher Steve Forbes, who is running a distant third behind McCain and Bush, criticized Bush for having already violated a no-new tax pledge made during a recent debate. "I don't want to say I told you so, but here is George W. Bush backing off his already timid tax cuts just two days before the people of New Hampshire go to the polls.
Throughout Sunday, Forbes frequently repeated his call for "a new birth of freedom," and urged voters to throw the federal income tax code "into the dumpster of history."