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Liebermans visit Fla. synagogue

Children stared in awe at Joseph Lieberman, and congregation members buzzed with excitement. One person observed: "There's more people here than there were at Rosh Hashana."

Lieberman, the Democrats' vice presidential nominee, sat in the front row at Beth Israel Congregation on Saturday with a tallis, or prayer shawl, over his shoulders.

Private conversations were under way about whether more Jews are Democrats or Republicans, about the excitement of a Jew running on the ticket with Vice President Al Gore. A few worshipers shushed the others; one slapped the back of a wooden seat to bring quiet during the service.

Addressing the congregation from the pulpit, Lieberman said his candidacy reflects the diversity and tolerance of the United States. He also confessed he still can't believe it when he is introduced as a vice presidential candidate.

Rabbi Neal Turk thanked Lieberman for bringing religion to the forefront of the campaign rather than treating it as taboo, and told him he has made Jews proud.

Throughout the service, beaming congregation members approached the Connecticut senator to shake his hand.

The Liebermans walked more than a mile to the synagogue from their beach-front hotel, holding hands in the 90-degree heat.

Marc Rosenblatt, who normally worships at another synagogue, came to Beth Israel and sat three rows behind the candidate. "If you have someone that's governing you that's human, that's real, . . . you can have a lot more confidence," Rosenblatt said.

A Republican, he said he's voting Gore-Lieberman.

Bush, Gore do battle

in crucial Pennsylvania

SCRANTON, Pa. _ "Battleground Scranton," said a banner headline in the Tribune on Tuesday.

"It's beginning to seem as though they're running for president of Pennsylvania," commented the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday.

Little wonder. Last week alone, Vice President Al Gore campaigned in Philadelphia on Sunday, Pittsburgh on Monday and the Scranton area on Thursday. Gov. Gov. George W. Bush of Texas was in Allentown and Scranton on Tuesday, Scranton on Wednesday and Pittsburgh on Friday. Lest anyone's attention wander, Dick Cheney, Bush's running mate, hit the Philadelphia suburbs.

By early last week, the Democrats and the Republicans had each spent more than $5-million in Pennsylvania, in soft money and hard, on television advertising. By late last week, Bush had been to the state 14 times and Gore had made no fewer than 17 visits.

Pennsylvania is one of the handful of states, including Florida, where the presidential race of 2000 will be decided. So when public and private polls suggested the start of a slide toward Gore, Bush stormed in to try to halt the slide, and the vice president arrived to try to keep the momentum going.

Gore lead at 8 points,

"Newsweek' poll suggests

WASHINGTON _ Democrat Al Gore has an edge over Republican George W. Bush in a Newsweek poll of likely voters released Saturday, while a tracking poll shows a very close race.

The race was tight in Illinois and New Hampshire, while Bush still has a big lead in Texas, according to several new state polls. The state-by-state battle for electoral votes is crucial because the winning candidate has to win enough states to collect 270 electoral votes.

Gore was up by 49 percent to 41 percent over Bush in the Newsweek poll of 595 likely voters, taken Thursday and Friday. That poll had an error margin of 5 percentage points.

A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll taken Wednesday through Friday showed Bush at 46 percent and Gore at 45 percent, about where the race has been for several days. The tracking poll of 675 likely voters has an error margin of 4 percentage points.

Democrats' schedule:

education, fundraising

WASHINGTON _ Democrats Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman will cross Ohio in matching yellow school buses, pushing a back-to-school campaign message in a week crowded with television appearances and nearly $10-million in fundraising.

Their "On the Road to an A+ Education" tour risked being overshadowed by Gore's star-powered fundraising and guest turns on Oprah Winfrey's and David Letterman's popular TV shows.

Gore, the presidential nominee, got a jump on the week of collecting cash at a pair of Atlanta events Friday night, beseeching Democrats to help even the financial score with rival George W. Bush and the GOP, which have raised record amounts this year.

Bush has raised a staggering $100-million and, through June 30, the GOP had $21.1-million in hard cash in the bank, compared with $9.3-million for the Democrats.

Since then, both parties have spent millions on an unusually early and aggressive TV ad war.

Gore will help the Democratic National Committee replenish its coffers next week with three benefit concerts.

Singers Cher and Michael Bolton star at Tuesday's $800,000 gig in Philadelphia. On Wednesday, it is singer James Taylor in Boston to raise $1-million.

The Thursday finale, at New York's Radio City Music Hall, employs the likes of Bette Midler, Jon Bon Jovi, Paul Simon and Julia Roberts to bag the week's biggest tally _ $5-million.