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AUSTIN, Texas -- It's all come down to this. As voters across America head to the polls and cast ballots in one of the most hotly-contested elections in recent history, Texas Governor George W. Bush is spending most of this Election Day in the quiet company of family and friends. After a late Monday night arrival here in Austin, the Republican nominee retired to the downtown Governor's Mansion, where he spent the night talking to family and reacquainting himself with the family pets. Bush arose at about 7 a.m. Central time and immediately placed a call to his father in Houston, former President George Bush. While the younger Bush said his father was generally nervous about how the day would progress, he added it was nice to finally be done with the grueling campaign schedule. "It was like a marathon in many ways," Bush said of his campaign as he prepared to make some early-morning get-out-the-vote phonecalls. With a lineup of campaign staffers, Secret Service agents and television cameras in tow, Bush left the mansion at about 10 a.m. and headed to an Austin courthouse where he cast his own ballot. The rest of the candidate's day is largely going to be spent among family and friends, as Bush -- accompanied by wife Laura and twin 18-year old daughters -- will dine at a downtown restaurant before heading to a room at the Four Seasons Hotel to watch election results come in this evening. Vice presidential candidate and former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney is expected to join Bush later this afternoon. He voted this morning in his hometown of Jackson Hole, Wyo. Both Bush and Cheney -- as well as an entourage of about 50 close friends and family members -- are expected to make their biggest public appearance of the day at around 10:20 p.m., when they head to the State Capitol ground to address an expected 20,000 supporters. Slow vote counting may be the last concern of Bush supporters in Austin, though. Heavy rains have been pelting this city off-and-on all day long, and threaten to ruin what otherwise would be an enormous celebration. But according to Bush campaign staffers, the rain has done nothing to dampen the spirits and enthusiasm of GOP backers here. "I think everyone here is very optimisitic, very upbeat," campaign spokesman Ken Lisaius said. The Bush celebration isn't expected to be the only party in town. Austin Democrats have booked the ballroom at the downtown Hyatt Hotel, and a group of Texas Green Party members plan to gather at a local bar to eat pizza, drink beer and watch the returns flow in. -- Jonathan Margulies

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