It was, in many ways, a typical campaign day in the final week of the Maryland gubernatorial race.
Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Democratic candidate, started early, greeting voters at a Metro stop before boarding her campaign bus for seven stops in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, all with an entourage of high-powered Democrats in tow.
Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. listed three events on his public schedule, spread over about 75 minutes in Capitol Heights.
While Townsend moves in rapid-fire succession from one event to another in the final week of the campaign, Ehrlich is far more selective, spending most of his time at staged events, rallies and fundraisers. Each day has a theme, be it crime, education, or, as it was yesterday in Prince George's County, human services.
In many ways, the dramatic difference in campaign pace reflects what each candidate needs to do to break the statistical tie the pair have found themselves in since mid-July. Townsend, as a Democrat in a heavily Democratic state, needs to stir up the voters who are her natural supporters, a task her aides say is enhanced by her presence at senior homes and grocery stores and classrooms across the state.
"It's time for nonstop campaigning," said Peter Hamm, a Townsend spokesman. "The last week of a campaign, you want to be out there charging, increasing your voter energy level, getting them excited."
He questioned why Ehrlich was not out on the trail as well.
But analysts say Ehrlich, as a Republican seeking crossover votes, needs to stress broad policy strokes. And without much party infrastructure to support big events in the Washington suburbs, he needs to raise the money to put those broad strokes out on television and radio.
"We're marching methodically to the beat of a plan we've been following and see no need to change," said campaign spokesman Paul E. Schurick. "We have never been a freestyle campaign. That's never been Ehrlich's style."
A recent Washington Post poll, both Ehrlich and Townsend claimed 47 percent of the vote. Townsend's supporters appeared less committed to her campaign and less certain to vote than Ehrlich's backers.
Thus turnout, particularly among black voters, is critical to her campaign. And thus yesterday's rally in Prince George's with a cluster of high-powered Democrats, including former vice president Al Gore; Townsend's uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.); the Rev. Martin Luther King III; and Maryland's U.S. senators, Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes.
Townsend has also courted voters one on one.
On Wednesday, her bus toured Southern Maryland through pouring rain, making stops at the Moose Lodge in Mechanicsville and the Doo-Dah Deli in Leonardtown. Then it was back onto the bus to visit the Leonardtown Elementary School, and then up to the Prince Frederick Giant.
Political analysts questioned Townsend's strategy, given the tight poll numbers.
"She's going to have to flip a whole bunch of people fast, and you can't do that shaking hands," said Matthew Crenson, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Jim Gimpel, a University of Maryland professor of government and politics, wondered why Townsend spent time yesterday at places such as a senior center in Bowie and the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club in Chevy Chase.
"Why go to areas which are going to turn out for you already?" Gimpel asked. "Does she really think she's going to lose the women's vote in Montgomery County?"
At the same time, Ehrlich is spending time in Townsend's stronghold, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
"He's concentrating his appearance in her back yard," Crenson said. "He has such an edge in the rest of the state."
Ehrlich, too, has managed to garner media coverage for many of his events. A breakfast chat with former Democratic governor Marvin Mandel received coverage from television stations and newspapers across the state yesterday. And an endorsement from public safety groups Tuesday, drew media coverage, as well.
Ehrlich's media schedule, though, ran afoul of his public schedule this week.
Ehrlich was 90 minutes late for one his appearances, an endorsement from three firefighter groups, and he left firefighters shuffling around in a cold, damp warehouse at Baltimore-Washington International Airport until he showed up. The reason for the delay: He was taping an interview with WRC-TV (Channel 4) in Washington that ran late and then got caught in traffic.
The campaign pace shows no signs of changing.
This morning, Townsend plans seven events in suburban Baltimore before heading to Prince George's for a fundraiser and rally with former president Bill Clinton.
Ehrlich's public schedule advertises a visit to the Leisure World senior community in Silver Spring this morning, then a football game at his Baltimore alma mater, Gilman, in the afternoon.
Staff writer Hamil R. Harris contributed to this report.