Republican challenger Todd Akin revved up supporters with a revival-style rally Saturday in Kansas City while Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill dispatched volunteers door-to-door during the final weekend of Missouri's nationally watched U.S. Senate race.
With polls showing a close contest and control of the chamber potentially at stake, McCaskill and Akin focused on firing up the faithful, encouraging the less-motivated to find the voting booth and persuading any still-wavering voters to join their cause.
"There is a grand organization to this," McCaskill explained to about 20 staff members and volunteers crammed into a Columbia campaign office waiting for instructions for a neighborhood canvass. "We are going to turn out a vote that will translate into actual differences in the margin (of victory) Tuesday."
Akin, meanwhile, said he was energized by the reception from about 150 supporters at a lengthy Kansas City pep rally that featured Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and conservative columnist Star Parker. Akin later made a quick campaign stop in Jefferson City before heading to St. Louis County for a larger rally featuring Parker and Christian singer Twila Paris.
"People are going to be real surprised with the result of this election," said Akin, adding that he was "cautiously optimistic" he would win.
Tuesday's election will conclude an unusually emotional and memorable campaign.
Akin, a suburban St. Louis congressman, was abandoned by many party leaders and publicly ridiculed after he remarked in a mid-August TV interview that women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape." Akin apologized repeatedly. But he forged ahead with his campaign despite calls from presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other top Republicans that he quit.
McCaskill later canceled more than a week of campaign activities to spend time with her ailing mother, who died Oct. 29. A memorial service for her mother, Betty Anne Ward McCaskill, was scheduled for today.
On Saturday, McCaskill was helping coordinate the final logistics of both the memorial service and her campaign. In Columbia, she encouraged volunteers who planned to knock on 3,535 doors Saturday and an additional 3,640 today. Statewide, Democrats planned to canvass more than 1 million homes and make more than 1.5 million phone calls in the final four days.
Columbia office staffer Amy Kroll instructed volunteers to ask people what time of day they plan to vote and how they plan to get there -- questions intended to firm up commitments to cast ballots. Volunteers also received talking points to accompany door hangers.
McCaskill described Akin as a "rigid ideologue" who has "outside the mainstream" beliefs.
Akin said voters should concentrate not on his words but on McCaskill's actions in support of President Barack Obama's policies. His campaign has frequently highlighted McCaskill's support for the 2009 stimulus act and 2010 health care law.
"My six-second mistake is part of the history of this campaign," Akin said, adding: "Contrast that six seconds versus six years" of decisions by McCaskill.
Akin's event Saturday at the World War I Museum in Kansas City was heavily geared toward women and had a religious theme.
Republicans had a statewide goal of knocking on about 500,000 doors and making phone calls to about 500,000 homes as part of their get-out-the-vote effort.