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JACKSONVILLE - Barack Obama stood on the threshold of history yesterday as polls gave the Democrat a solid lead over John McCain on the last day of campaigning for the most dramatic US presidential vote in a generation.
But McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, vowed to confound the pollsters to stage a comeback and wrench victory from Obama's grasp today.
Obama stressed the historic nature of his quest to be America's first black president, striking an optimistic tone as fresh polls gave him a wide lead and heaped further pressure on McCain.
"This is a defining moment in our history," Obama wrote in an article published yesterday inthe Wall Street Journal.
"Tomorrow, I ask you to write our nation's next great chapter. If you give me your vote, we won't just win this election - together, we will change this country and change the world."
McCain was defiant. "My opponent is measuring the drapes at the White House," he said, as he wrapped up a frenzied day of campaigning with a rally in Miami.
"The Mac is back! And we're going to win this election," he added, to deafening cheers.
The Republican was to dash through at least seven states on the marathon campaign's final day. Obama was to blitz through Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, bidding to storm Republican bastions and turn them over to his side.
Rallying supporters in Ohio on Sunday, Obama said his rival's policies would extend President George Bush's legacy of financial crisis and "war without end" in Iraq.
McCain also attacked his rival on the economy, in his own article in the Wall Street Journal. "Senator Obama wants to raise taxes and restrict trade," he charged. "The last time America did that in a bad economy it led to the Great Depression."
The final pre-election poll of Gallup-USA Todayyesterday gave Obama a yawning lead of 11 points - 55percent to 44 for McCain.
"It would take an improbable last-minute shift in voter preferences, or a huge Republican advantage in election day turnout, for McCain to improve enough upon his predicted share of the vote. to overcome his deficit to Obama," the pollster said.
Obama leads also in the battleground states where the election will be won and lost, including Virginia and North Carolina that have not backed a Democratic hopeful in decades.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll meanwhile suggested that McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, may be dragging down the Republican's chances. The news network said that McCain had 48percent support among people questioned, but support for McCain and Palin as a unit was lower, at 46percent. - Sapa-AFP