Democrat Al Gore spent much of the weekend at events courting the black vote and working to motivate turnout among a group that solidly supports him but doesn't always turn out heavily on Election Day.
The vice president planned to address a Congressional Black Caucus dinner Saturday night, capping a busy weekend in the nation's capital.
Gore spoke to an enthusiastic overflow crowd of 1,600 students at Washington's historically black Howard University on Friday and later addressed a standing-room-only audience of black appointees of the Clinton administration who erupted into cheers of "Go, Al! Go, Al!" several times during his half-hour speech.
Political analysts say Gore may be able to count on a high percentage of the black vote in his race against his Republican opponent, George W. Bush. But they say assuring a heavy black turnout is vital to his chances -- especially in swing states such as New Jersey, Missouri, Florida and Georgia.
Polls suggest that Gore has the support of about eight in 10 blacks.
Meanwhile, the latest Newsweek poll released Saturday showed Gore has opened up a 13-point lead over Bush among registered voters.
Gore led Bush, 54 percent to 41 percent, according to the weekly newsmagazine's poll of 853 registered voters who were surveyed Thursday and Friday. The poll had a 4 percentage point margin of error.
In a Newsweek poll one week ago, Gore led Bush by nine points.
The vice president briefly shifted gears from his wooing of the black vote Saturday morning to talk to about 150 high school students who were in Washington attending the National Student Leadership Forum.
Gore discussed faith in politics and encouraged the students to "not allow yourself to give in to the temptation to cynicism."
He said that while religion was a personal issue, it helped him in public life to choose "the hard right over the easy wrong."
"There has been a big debate this year about the role of faith in politics," he told the students.
"I really support what Joe Lieberman has been saying about that. I think he is right," he said, referring to his running mate's assertion that it is appropriate for a candidate to affirm his personal religious faith.
Lieberman, the first person of the Jewish faith to be picked on a major party ticket, has been criticized by some in recent weeks for making too many references to religion in his public appearances.
Gore also launched a fresh attack on the violent material produced by Hollywood.
"A report came out by the Federal Trade Commission about how movies rated inappropriate for children are being aggressively marketed to children. That's wrong, and it has to stop," he said, adding that the average high school student sees 20,000 killings in movies before graduating.
That barrage of violent images, Gore said, can lead to tragedies such as the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in April 1999, when two heavily armed students opened fire, killing a teacher and 12 students before taking their own lives.
"The killers at Columbine said in their videotape, 'This is going to be just like that video game Doom,' which they had become obsessed with," Gore said.
"If we broadcast . . . throughout our society material which children are simply incapable of processing and dealing with, we should not be surprised if some of them respond to it in ways that are unhealthy," he added.
This week, Gore will head West to raise more money for the Democratic National Committee, which has been financing the bulk of his TV ad war with Bush.
Gore had fund-raisers planned through the week, including Monday night in Beverly Hills, organized by director Rob Reiner; Tuesday in the San Francisco Bay Area; and Saturday in Chicago.