USA

Both presidential candidates put in final days of marathon campaigning through swing states on the eve of Tuesday's election. President Bush made stops in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico, before a finishing rally in Dallas and a night spent at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. John Kerry, the Democratic challenger, also worked the heartland with his own 16-hour campaign blitz before returning home to Boston. Bush asked voters to "come stand with me" in fighting the war on terror with "unwavering confidence in our ideals" and "with all our might." Kerry said under his leadership the US could lead "by its moral strength and by its reasoning, not by ideological rigidity." Voters also will decide eight key Senate races, all the House seats, 11 governorships, and a host of state ballot questions, 16 in California alone.

More than 50,000 calls to a national hotline for voter complaints have been received, according to Common Cause, which is operating it with a consortium of other groups. Floridians have called in the most complaints (about 8,600) over missing absentee ballots, long lines for early voters, and other problems.

Results of a weekend opinion poll showed that 84 percent of respondents describe the election as "especially important," compared to 67 percent in 2000, and 61 percent in 1996. The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, could foreshadow the largest turnout since 1992, when more than 55 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, Pew pollster Andrew Kohut said.

More than $600 million, or three times as much money as in 2000, has been spent on TV and radio commercials in the presidential campaign, the Associated Press reported. Most of the ads aired on local TV and radio stations in the 17 most competitive states. A major factor in the spending surge, political analysts said, was the proliferation of "527s" - interest groups so named because of the section of the federal tax code they fall under. Millions of dollars collected by 527s were used to supplement the candidates' own ad campaigns.

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the record 21-game winning streak of the New England Patriots Sunday, knocking off the defending NFL Super Bowl champions, 34-20. Led by rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers (6-1) are off to their best start since 1978 and next face the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles.

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