SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Inside the Hall of Springs, supporters of U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy waved campaign signs and clapped their hands to the music of "The Rising," and they waited for former President Bill Clinton to arrive.

Outside, supporters of Republican challenger Chris Gibson harmonized in an impromptu rendition of, "Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey-hey -- goodbye."

As the sun came up on the day before Election Day, the differences in policy and strategy hadn't changed much since March.

Murphy, the incumbent Democrat from Glens Falls, and his supporters inside the hall, talked about how it is necessary for Murphy, a businessman who understands the economy, to remain in Congress.

Outside the hall, supporters of Gibson, the newly retired Army colonel, chanted, ‘Where are the jobs?'" and talked about patriotism.

Tom Lee of Kinderhook - Gibson's Columbia County hometown - had set his alarm for 4 a.m. and made the 55-mile trek.

Lee drove his white Chevy pickup truck with a helicopter-shaped shell attached to the pickup's bed and a big red sign that read, "Veterans for Gibson."

Inside the hall, Richard Beckwith, a farmer and owner of a meat packing company in Gibson's home county, said Murphy understands farmers.

"I am a Republican, but Scott Murphy never asked if I was a Republican or a Democrat," Beckwith said. "The only thing that he asked was, ‘How can I help?'"

Gibson himself was in Albany Monday morning, but he sent encouragement to his supporters - outside the hall and around the 20th Congressional District - via talk radio.

Gibson was a guest on The Paul Vandenburgh Show on WDGJ-AM radio. Speaking on the radio, he said he was optimistic about the country's future.

"Here's the thing though: Let's not worry about who gets the credit," Gibson said. "At the end of the day when we get the economy moving again, that's what matters."

Inside the hall, Murphy talked about how the spring water at Saratoga bubbles with hope.

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Albany; U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; and Clinton talked about how Murphy understands economics.

Clinton said Murphy understands the best ways to use incentives and tax breaks to help create jobs in emerging industries.

He said that, since early 2009, the U.S. share of the worldwide manufacture of batteries used in hybrid cars has gone from 2 percent to 20 percent.

Clinton said that Murphy supporters, in the closing hours of the campaign, need to talk to younger voters and tell them that Murphy supported reform of the student loan system.

"You know what this means? No one will ever have to drop out of college again because they can't pay their student loans," he said.

Clinton said he understands the frustration of people in the tea party movement, but said they should realize that Murphy voted to support a financial reform bill that makes it more difficult for the government to bail out companies.

"If you don't want more bailouts, you better vote for your current congressman," he told the approximately 1,500 people attending the Murphy rally.

Outside the hall, 200 to 300 Gibson supporters rallied.

Jeff Russo of New Baltimore, in Greene County, carried a flag that read, "Don't Tread on Me."

Ruso said the country needs someone like Gibson in Congress.

Ed Brown, of Clifton Park, wore a red, white and blue outfit similar to Uncle Sam's.

"There are five reasons why I'm here," said Brown, holding up five fingers of his white-gloved hand.

His fingers represented his five grandchildren and their futures, he said.

Gibson, speaking on the radio, said the country has to get back to basics, and that it's up to the private sector, not government, to create jobs.

"The bureaucracy now has grown to the point that it is crowding out chances for growth. It's really got to stop," he said.

Clinton said Gibson is an honorable man who should be praised for his military service, but Murphy has a better understanding of the economy.

"This is not about right and left," Clinton said. "This is about tomorrow versus yesterday."

By the time the sun comes up on Tuesday, voters in the 20th Congressional District will already have begun casting their ballots.

"And this election is the report card. It's the litmus test," said Tonko, the Albany area congressman.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Staff writers Drew Kerr and Thomas Dimopoulos contributed to this report.



Load comments