All's been quiet on the candidate front since Gore finally tore himself away from Florida at 5 a.m., ending a 30-hour, six-town day spanning 1,951 miles, and Bush wound up in Arkansas after his 17-hour, four-town final push covering 2,872 miles. By mid-morning, both men had cast their votes, and were set to grab a nap while voters went to the polls to give them their answer.
On television, the maps are out. Can Delaware and New Hampshire call this thing early? Is Florida the be-all and end-all? Is California in play? Will it come down to Oregon, at 4 a.m. ET? How's the voting booth look out there, Reggie? And what's the deal with all those absentee ballots? The second-string cable anchors are all here, sniffing for signs and marking time until the big shots take over at 5 p.m. ET, when it'll be possible to start speculating with a straight face.
The Last Omen
Turnout is rumored to be high maybe very high from California to Manhattan to Florida to Nevada to the Midwest battlegrounds. That's making the Democrats cautiously optimistic, but Republicans insist it's their people, itching for a landslide. We'll know soon enough.
The Weather Report
Heavy snow in South Dakota, New Mexico, the western part of Texas and southwestern Minnesota... Heavy rain in northern Texas and Minnesota... Bad weather expected in Wisconsin... Rain forecast for the battleground states of Ohio and Michigan not as bad as expected. Florida and California sun-drenched as ever.
Famous Last Words
"There are only a few hours left before the polls close." Gore, to reporters a few hours before the polls opened.
Quoth the Times: "By the time he arrived this evening in Flint, Mich., Mr. Gore was punchy from exhaustion, his face puffy and pink, with rivulets of sweat meandering down his cheek. He sucked on lozenges as he spoke, but they did little to soothe his hoarseness." Gore also thanked "Rogers Hornsby" and his band for warming up the crowd before a Dearborn rally.
"We've poured our hearts and souls into this campaign, and the people are going to decide. I trust their will, I trust their wisdom." Bush, to reporters Tuesday man, that guy stays on message after making a few last phone calls to potential voters, urging them to visit the polls. Bush, at one point, referred to the inheritance tax as the "death penalty."
Quoth the Times: "He seemed serene... Maybe Mr. Bush was after an aura of simple earnestness. Maybe he understood that there was only so much a candidate could do at this late stage. Or maybe he had sacrificed some of his energy to the hundreds of thousands of miles that it took to get to this point. His hair was grayer than when he started. But his message, an answer to the challenge of campaigning against an incumbent administration during peace and prosperity, was mostly unchanged."
"Heaven knows what that means." Andrew Sullivan, Monday night on MSNBC, on the reports of rain in the Rust Belt Tuesday.
The book is closed at mysportsbook.com. Bush goes out at 1-3.