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Roseburg New Review - Smith Seeks Support in Final Days of Campaign

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Roseburg New Review - Smith Seeks Support in Final Days of Campaign

Locked in the fiercest battle of his political life, U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith made one last pitch to Douglas County voters during visits Wednesday to Roseburg and Myrtle Creek.

Smith and his wife, Sharon, were greeted by a several dozen supporters outside the Republican Party headquarters as the two-term senator's campaign RV pulled into downtown Roseburg. The crowd also included Democratic Party chairman Dean Byers and Democrat Bob Duey, who held signs supporting Smith's opponent, Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley.

Inside the Southeast Jackson Street party headquarters, Smith called the race "historic and challenging." He said it was never more important for people to "be patriots," to get out and vote and encourage others to do the same.

"Oregon truly does need one Republican senator, a senator who has lots of seniority and a place at the federal table that includes Oregon, not starting over at 100 but literally in the 30s," Smith said, speaking on the difference in seniority between him and Merkley, should he win Tuesday's election. "That's a huge difference in the way the Senate operates."

Smith was on the second day of a three-day campaign swing through Oregon. He started the day in McMinnville and made stops in Salem, Corvallis and Cottage Grove before arriving in Roseburg. He left there to go to Myrtle Creek and Grants Pass.

Today he will be in Medford, Klamath Falls, Bend and Prineville. He spent Tuesday on the coast and in Portland.

Smith called Merkley "a good person," but said he hasn't remained true to his roots in Myrtle Creek and Roseburg, where his dad worked for mills before moving his family to Portland.

"He has never missed an opportunity to turn his back on where he came from, and that is something I hope you remember," Smith said. "When loggers needed work, he said no. When farmers needed water, he said no. When the governor proposed the Office of Rural Policy, he said close it."

"That is not the way you represent all of Oregon," Smith said. "And I know many in the country understand that my responsibility is to bridge that urban-rural divide and I do that. My opponent deepens that."

Smith, who has served in the Senate for 12 years, said he has been guided by his constituency, his conscience and the U.S. Constitution.

"Those three things are my touchstones as I go and represent the state of Oregon," he said.

Smith said it's easier said than done to represent all of Oregon, with its wide diversity, but that he has tried his best to do that.

"Never forget that on the big issues of keeping your taxes low, of fighting to reopen your jobs, of providing federal dollars for secure rural schools, I've always been there and I will always be there as long as Oregon gives me an election certificate that says, ‘Go vote for us,'" Smith said. "That's what I've done and that's what I'll do."

Recent polls have called the race a toss-up, yet Smith, who said he has slept in his bed in Pendleton only twice in the past two months, said he remained confident.

"We will win this race, but it is close and every vote counts," he said.

Sharon Smith spoke briefly, urging supporters to volunteer to make phone calls on her husband's behalf between now and the election. She also said she was overwhelmed by the response as they drove through downtown Roseburg.

"That's the greatest greeting we've ever had," she said.

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