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Missouri Candidates Reach Out for Rural Vote


And now to Missouri, which has one of the closest Senate races. Polls show Republican Senator Jim Talent in a dead heat with Democrat Claire McCaskill. NPR's Brian Naylor is just back from Missouri, where he was reporting on the Senate race. Brian, who are the crucial voters that Talent and McCaskill will have to woo now?

BRIAN NAYLOR: Debbie, I think both sides see this as a matter of getting the rural voters out. McCaskill, who is the state auditor, ran and lost a race for governor a couple of years back, and her loss was attributed to the fact that she didn't do that well in the rural out-state Missouri.


There are a lot of votes in Kansas City and in St. Louis, and those are traditional Democratic strongholds. But the rural parts of the state in-between are seen as Republican strongholds, and so McCaskill has tried very hard - spent a lot of time campaigning in those areas - as has Senator Talent. President Bush was in on Friday campaigning in Springfield and Joplin in the southwestern part of the state, a real Republican stronghold. So I think both sides see the rural vote as crucial and, you know, in a race that's so close, it could turn on, and it will turn on, who does a better job of getting their voters to the polls.

ELLIOTT: Does the president's appearance there this week mean that for Republicans in Missouri the president is not the liability that other candidates feel he is in other parts of the country?

NAYLOR: I think that may be the case, and certainly in rural, southwestern Missouri. I think though what both campaigns are trying to do is really drum up enthusiasm and drum up the intensity. The president's appearance with Talent is one way for Republicans to get their supporters excited. Claire McCaskill was - pulled an all-nighter the other night, campaigning in St. Louis overnight, visiting with the night shift at a factory and a couple of diners and police stations. You know, with a race this close, I think both sides see it's so important to reach out to every possible voter and to make sure that they've got both - both sides have got their base drummed up and excited about this race. And so that's what you're seeing in the final days of this campaign.

ELLIOTT: NPR's Brian Naylor, thanks.

NAYLOR: Thanks, Debbie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.