FORT MYERS — With one day to go before Election Day, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink made her second stop in Southwest Florida in one week.
After two quick stops in Fort Myers at a coffee shop and a Democratic party phone bank, she was on the road again, but the stop sent a message about her hopes for grabbing votes in this area. She brought the big guns with her, including US Sen. Bill Nelson, former Gov. Bob Graham, her husband, Bill McBride and her running mate, Rod Smith.
Previously, McBride and Smith have hit campaigned apart from Sink, hitting as many places as possible at once, but they put on a united front in Fort Myers this morning.
She may not be able to win in this county, but if she can get 43 percent or so in this Republican stronghold, it could be enough to put her over the top in the state, said Democratic Executive Committee volunteer Kate Duffy.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, Sink has the edge among independent voters, 47 percent to 34 percent. As expected, both candidates have wide margins in their own parties: Scott leads 81 percent to 10 percent among Republicans and Sink leads 83 percent to 5 percent among Democrats.
During a rally Monday morning in a restaurant parking lot, Scott dismissed the razor-thin poll numbers. Scott added that having Marco Rubio - a wildly popular U.S. Senate candidate who is expected to win that race - at the top of the ticket benefits him.
"I think it's clearly helpful that Marco's in the race," he said. "We're going to win."
While many at the Scott rally were retirees, 19-year-old Merissa McKenzie of Naples handed out invitations for Scott's Monday night "welcome home party" in that city.
"I believe in what Rick Scott has to offer," said McKenzie, who wore a lip piercing and a red "Chicks for Rick" T-shirt. "He's pro-life and that's one of the most important things to me."
The two candidates' campaign stops couldn't have been more different in recent days; Scott has largely stuck to white voters in Republican enclaves like the Panhandle and Sarasota, while Sink courted the black vote in Jacksonville and Miami.
On Sunday night, Sink attracted attention as her entourage strolled through the predominantly African-American crowd at a Halloween festival in the Miami Dolphins stadium parking lot.
People shouted out her name as she walked through the crowd and briefly got on stage to urge the crowd of thousands to get out to vote for her.
"Hey, Miss Sink! Good luck!" called out Chris Scott, a 27-year-old mechanic who lives in Miami Beach.
When asked why he supported Sink, Scott said: "She seems more down to earth and in touch with the folks. I like that she's down here with us. I mean, this is an African-American type of event. And she's down here. I like her."
On Monday morning, Sink worked the crowd at a Fort Myers coffee shop, accompanied by running mate Rod Smith, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and former US Sen. Bob Graham. She urged people to contact their friends to make sure everyone gets out to vote.
But not everyone is enamored with the candidates. The Quinnipiac poll showed that Sink, the state's chief financial officer, is better regarded by likely voters, with a 43 to 40 percent favorable rating. Scott gets a negative 39 to 50 percent rating.
Scott has been dogged throughout the campaign by his past leadership of Columbia/HCA, a hospital conglomerate that paid a record $1.7 billion fine to settle federal charges of Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Scott, the company CEO at the time, was never charged with a crime and says he wasn't aware of any wrongdoing.
Scott has also criticized Sink for refusing to take responsibility for employees at the securities subsidiary of her former bank hoodwinking seniors into risky investments. NationsBank paid a $6.7 million fine for the practice, but Sink - then president of the bank's Florida operations - said she had nothing to do with it.
In the past week, both candidates have crisscrossed the state, meeting thousands of voters. Both will vote Tuesday in their home precincts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report