WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) — With the clock ticking down to Election Day, the candidates in Rhode Island's bitter and heated race to represent the 1st Congressional District spent Sunday shaking hands and stumping for every last vote.
Freshman Rep. David Cicilline got help during visits to senior housing projects from popular Democrats, including Sen. Jack Reed and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who brought along his infant son, Owen, as an added sweetener.
Republican Brendan Doherty, the former head of the state police making his first run for office, campaigned with his wife at an Armenian food festival on Cicilline's home turf of Providence, where he was mayor before heading to Congress two years ago.
The district includes northern and eastern Rhode Island.
Doherty, of Cumberland, said that despite the blitz, he thought most people have made up their minds.
"I feel that momentum has swung my way," Doherty said. "What I'm hearing today is 'I'm voting for you.'"
At Kennedy Manor in Woonsocket, a senior housing project, Reed and Kennedy urged people to get to the polls on Tuesday to send a Democrat back to Congress in the seat Kennedy held until he decided not to seek re-election two years ago.
"If we send a Republican to Washington, they're going to give the keys to the car to John Boehner, Eric Cantor and the tea party crowd, and they're going to do the driving," Reed said, referring to the Republican House speaker and majority leader. "Tuesday is a big day, and we have a huge choice. Get out and vote."
Cicilline echoed the comments, a variation of what he has been arguing for months — that a vote for Doherty is a vote for national Republicans who push an agenda on Medicare, taxes and healthcare that is unpopular in heavily Democratic Rhode Island.
"We could help decide whether tea party-backed Republicans stay in power," he told the crowd.
Doherty has tried to distinguish himself from the national party, saying he does not agree with national Republicans on several issues, including those who proposed Medicare vouchers, and says he'll be his own man if elected. His campaign theme is "uncommon integrity."
Cicilline was mayor of Providence for eight years before being elected to Congress in 2010. He survived a bruising Democratic primary challenge from businessman Anthony Gemma in September, and has been hammered by Doherty for months for his handling of city finances when he was mayor. Doherty has painted him as a liar and untrustworthy for describing the city's financial condition as excellent during the 2010 race, a description that was untrue and Cicilline has since apologized for.
More recently, Doherty and national Republicans have dug deeper into Cicilline's past to his career as a criminal defense lawyer, running TV ads that tied him to a child molester and murderer he defended two decades ago. Both national parties have said they were pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race for TV ads in the final week of the campaign.
Jasper Ananian, 91, an independent from North Providence, said he doesn't like Cicilline because of his record as mayor. He's voting for Doherty.
"I like what he said. It's not Republican. It's not Democrat. It's integrity," he said.
Maggie Collard, 71, a Democrat from Woonsocket, who came to see Cicilline, Kennedy and Reed, said her top issue this election is preserving Medicare and Social Security. She said she dislikes the negative ads that target Cicilline, and calls him "for the people."
"I believe he would be the one that would help us the most," she said.