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Bowles Criss-Crosses State In Last Appeal For Votes

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RALEIGH, N.C. — One week before election day, the Senate race between Erskine Bowles and Richard Burr is too close to call. On Monday,

WRAL profiled Burr

. Now, Bowles is also making a last-minute appeal for votes.

The former Charlotte businessman hopes his message will resonate with voters on this, his second run for the Senate. He lost to Elizabeth Dole two years ago. Bowles first made a name for himself in politics when he served as White House Chief of Staff.

"It was an extraordinary experience," he said.

While Bowles touts his accomplishments in the Clinton White House, his opponent hopes that association will be viewed as a negative.

"He gave me a chance to serve my country. He gave me a chance to negotiate the first balanced budget in a generation," Bowles said.

Instead of talking about the past, Bowles prefers to focus on the future and his plans to increase jobs and reduce health care costs.

"I think it's morally wrong that kids in this country don't have health care insurance. I want to see them get it," he said.

Bowles said his plans for better health care and economic recovery are fiscally responsible. He believes his plan is responsible enough to attract both Democratic and Republican support, among voters and politicians.

"We need people in Washington who won't just vote the straight party line, but will go up there and try to do what's right for the country and that's what I want to do," Bowles said.

Bowles said he even tried to reach out to his rival, Burr.

"I said, 'Look, Richard, let's keep this positive. I told him I'd never run a negative ad -- not one -- if he didn't,'" Bowles said.

Burr rejected the offer, doubting its sincerity. The result became a sparring match over the airwaves.

However, some believe those ads attacking Burr have not been enough to keep the gap between the two candidates from closing. A recent WRAL poll shows what had been a 10-point lead for Bowles is now a dead heat.

"We expected it would be tight. This race is going to be decided by a couple thousand votes here and there, and that's why we're trying to generate interest and make sure people get to the polls," Bowles said. "We've got to earn those votes. Every single one of them counts."

Bowles is not the only one criss-crossing the state this week. On Saturday, Richard Burr will stop in five cities, including Raleigh and Fayetteville.


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