At a packed airplane hangar in a state that would be in the reliably Democratic column any other year, Gov. George. W. Bush admits to the crowd of several thousand that he had had second thoughts about his state chairman, St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, who told him long ago that Bush would win Minnesota's 10 electoral votes.
"Did I pick the right chairman?" Bush says he wondered about Coleman. "Is he a realistic fella?"
But as Bush came here throughout the summer, he testifies, he began to gain confidence in Coleman's vision. "I believe he's correct!" Bush says to cheers.
The polls indeed show the race here to be neck and neck. A Mason-Dixon poll, conducted last week for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, had Vice President Al Gore with 44 percent, Bush with 41 percent and -- perhaps most significant -- Green Party nominee Ralph Nader with 8 percent. Thus, as in Oregon and Washington, Nader's candidacy is providing Bush with enough wiggle room to eke out a victory in a second-tier swing state.
Because Coleman lost his gubernatorial race in 1998 to then Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura, Bush is introduced in the hangar by neighboring Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.
Feisty and forceful -- kind of angry, even -- Bush reads his speech from a teleprompter and trots out some new slams against Gore in this, the final week of the campaign.
"In 1981, the vice president voted in favor of a 70 percent top income tax rate," Bush says, immediately conjuring forth the question of what exactly Bush was pursuing while Gore was voting for such a high tax rate on the very wealthy. "If his views and vote had prevailed, a family of four making $50,000 would pay three times more in federal income taxes than they pay today."
"That's not all!" Bush says. "Twelve times while in Congress, Al Gore was rated a 'big spender' by the National Taxpayers Union. Three of those times, he earned the worst rating of any member of Congress!"
"Considering the competition, that's quite an achievement," Bush chuckles.
Bush then slams Gore for his "targeted tax cut," saying that it will lead to "more forms to fill out, more regulations to comply with and more hoops to jump through."
He asks the crowd: "How many of you own a rooftop photovoltaic system? Let's see the hands? Not too many! You're beginning to get the drift of what it means to be a 'targeted' tax cut."
Do you think Bush knows that his own tax plan offers a targeted tax cut for families who install a rooftop photovoltaic system in their home?