Bush was endorsed Sunday by three major Ohio newspapers he had courted, the Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and Cincinnati Post, but his staff is looking at ways for him to win without carrying Ohio, where polls once showed him ahead but now have him even at best.
In an interview at his ranch with Charles Gibson of ABC's "Good Morning America," scheduled to air Monday, the president emphasized states he lost in 2000 where he has shown recent strength. "I wouldn't discount Michigan," Bush told Gibson. "I wouldn't discount the influence of Wisconsin and Iowa and Minnesota and New Mexico, and I think this race is a non-predictable race. I think people like to boil it down to one or two states. But I think you're going to find that there's a lot of interesting states that some have not considered to be in play, in play."
Asked whether he thinks in private moments about the possibility of losing, Bush said: "I'm not there yet."
Kerry is leading or tied in three states with the most electoral votes at stake: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Yet he was forced to adjust his schedule to campaign in Michigan on Monday, where several polls show a closer-than-expected race, and Kerry aides say Bush is gaining ground in Ohio. Two recent polls taken in Hawaii, a Democratic stronghold where Bush received 37 percent in 2000, shows Bush running even with Kerry; Democrats say Arkansas, once considered a virtual lock for Bush, is tightening and might entice a last-minute appearance by former president Bill Clinton, who will campaign with Kerry in Pennsylvania on Monday and will then go to Florida.
Although the Kerry camp seems optimistic, some aides are still concerned about the Democratic nominee's ability to close the deal with undecided voters.
Kerry's talk Sunday was perhaps the most overtly religious speech of the campaign by either candidate. He spoke of a lifelong Catholic faith that sustained him through war and crises and a belief in a "common destiny" under God that carries with it a moral and social obligation for government to help the least of America's people.
"The Bible tells us that in others we encounter the face of the God," he said. Kerry said voters of faith should come together to fight AIDS, poverty, the growing number of uninsured citizens and low wages. "We have a moral obligation to one another, to the forgotten, and to those who live in the shadows." Kerry ended with a call to voters to pray for both candidates -- which was interrupted by a partisan response of "no more Bush."
Allen is traveling with Bush.