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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Rallies Republican Base on Eve of Elections

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush headed west to campaign for Republican candidates Thursday after reaffirming his confidence that his party would maintain control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives in next week's nationwide elections.

With polls showing the public opposed to the war in Iraq, Democrats have expressed increasing optimism in recent days that they would gain the 15 seats they need to win control of the 435-member House, where all seats are up for election.

Democrats must pick up six seats to win the 100-member Senate, where 33 seats are up for election this year -- a taller challenge -- and both parties made last-minute efforts to increase the number of competitive races.

"I don't believe it's over until everybody votes," Bush said Wednesday in an Oval Office interview. "And I believe that people are concerned about the amount of taxes they pay, and I know many people are concerned about whether or not this country is secure against attack."

The president was campaigning in Montana and Nevada on Thursday before spending the night in Missouri in advance of appearances there Friday.

Senator John Kerry, meanwhile, Bush's opponent in the 2004 race for the White House, was regrouping one day after apologizing to service members for remarks that many interpreted as an insult to U.S. forces in Iraq -- and which knocked him off the trail.

Kerry had been campaigning actively for Democratic candidates coast to coast, but canceled appearances in three states after a furor generated by his remarks Monday evening at a California college.

The Massachusetts senator's future role in the run-up to next Tuesday's election was uncertain as Democratic Senate candidates from Montana to New York distanced themselves from his remark.

Kerry apologized to "any service member, family member or American" offended by remarks deemed by Republicans and some Democrats alike to be insulting to U.S. forces in Iraq. Kerry has characterized the remarks as the result of a botched joke.

Democrats cringed at the prospect of Kerry becoming the face of the party for the second consecutive national campaign. "No one wants to have the 2004 election replayed," said Senator Hillary Clinton, who, like Kerry, is a potential contender for the Democrats' 2008 presidential nomination.