As thousands of worshipers streamed out of Vienna's McLean Bible Church yesterday morning, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore stood waiting to greet them, palm outstretched.
"Jerry Kilgore, good to see you," he said again and again, as members of the massive nondenominational congregation flowed past, many stopping to tell the former attorney general that he had their prayers -- and their votes. Later, he and U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) mingled with tailgaters before the Redskins football game.
Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the Democratic candidate for governor, started the day standing in the rain on a cliff's edge where Virginia overlooks Kentucky at Breaks Interstate Park. After leaving behind the spectacular autumn view, he went to rallies in the mining towns that dot the southwestern mountains.
Gov. Mark R. Warner, who has been Kaine's companion at many of the campaign's closing events, branched off to stump for his fellow Democrat in Richmond, Winchester and Charlottesville.
The appearances by the candidates and some of their most prominent supporters capped the final weekend of the 2005 campaign in Virginia.
Meanwhile, the campaigns increased the number of recorded phone messages and mailings they sent out, hoping to influence voters just before tomorrow's voting.
Democrats complained about two Republican efforts, including a campaign mailer sent out by the Kilgore campaign that was designed to look as if independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr. was attacking Kaine's record.
They also took issue with a recorded phone call that used a portion of a Kaine speech in which he says he supports numerous restrictions on abortion. Kaine campaign officials said both efforts were distortions of Kaine's comments aimed at depressing Democratic turnout. The Kilgore campaign said the messages were consistent with Kaine's statements.
Kilgore steered away from rallies and microphones, instead sitting attentively in the pews of two large Fairfax churches, where his presence was never acknowledged from the pulpit.
At McLean Bible Church, Kilgore sat with about 2,500 others in a massive auditorium, singing along with contemporary religious music. Outside the church, he was greeted warmly by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), before she strode off to her car, yelling back to reporters, "I'm just going to church today!"
Kilgore also shook hands with Great Falls resident Mark West, 50, who said he had been undecided in the race, concerned both candidates were running negative campaigns. But West said seeing Kilgore at his church convinced him to vote for the Republican.
"I was looking for someone who was God-centered and Christ-centered. The fact that he's here indicates he's like that," West said.
In the afternoon, Kilgore met privately with supporters and last night left the state altogether to join Allen, son of the late Redskins coach, at FedEx Field in Landover.
Allen, wearing a Redskins jacket with his name embroidered on the sleeve, walked with Kilgore among the tailgaters as television lights and cameras trailed behind.
"Are you from Virginia?" Allen shouted to a group in lawn chairs.
"No, but I work in Virginia," responded Glenn Noble, from North Potomac.
"All right, keep paying those taxes," Kilgore shouted back, to the laughter of the crowd.
Football fans from Virginia got extra attention.
"Can I get you anything? A beer?" Ted Krawl, a fan from Arlington, asked Kilgore.
"Nah," the candidate responded, "I got all these people with me."
In southwestern Virginia, Kaine's 10-stop tour climaxed with a rally of more than 300 in Big Stone Gap, home to A. Linwood Holton, Kaine's father-in-law and a former Republican governor, who has campaigned with his son-in-law all weekend.
Earlier, at a school auditorium in Grundy, where flakes of the ceiling were falling to the floor, Kaine told a crowd of more than 200 that he and Warner were proud of improvements in the local economy but that he would be "even more diligent in working to bring jobs here. We've got to do better if we're going to compete with those nations who are competing with us."
The message resonated with Marty Stevenson. "It's just like it's been said here today," the 44-year-old Grundy resident said. Kaine is going to "increase employment, save jobs from being outsourced and keep the economy moving forward. He's going to improve the quality of life for all Virginians."
In Richmond, Warner went to five predominantly African American churches, asking "respectfully and prayerfully" as he said in one, that churchgoers consider Kaine. "He is a man of faith. He was a missionary. He was a civil rights lawyer. And he was your mayor," Warner said to congregants at Great Hope Baptist Church. "Of course, you don't see that on television. All you see on the television is them trying to tear him down."
Throughout the day, Warner nervously checked on get-out-the-vote efforts. At one point, the governor had his driver stop so he could review Democratic campaign literature left on the windshield of a car outside one of the churches.
Later, he attended partisan and spirited rallies in Winchester and Charlottesville.
"I see so much enthusiasm for Tim Kaine. Look at this: Sunday afternoon in Winchester," he said, pointing to the crowd of about 200 near that city's downtown courthouse.
In Charlottesville, he reminded voters that President Bush was coming to campaign for Kilgore in Richmond tonight.
"If we want to make a comparison of how things are going in Virginia and how things are going in Washington, I'll take that comparison any day of the week," he told the cheering crowd.
In an interview, Warner said he felt confident about Kaine's chances, if voters make their choice based on the direction of the state and how government has been run -- "what takes 98 percent of a governor's time" rather than "these social hot-button issues" -- then "I think we'll be fine."
Warner plans to rejoin Kaine today and will attend an 11:30 a.m. rally at Market Square in Alexandria.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Staff writers Robert Barnes and Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.
Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the Democratic candidate for governor, laughs with Pilgrims Knob, Va., resident Jesse Horn before a rally in Grundy. Kaine also visited Breaks Interstate Park and southwestern mining towns yesterday.