, MADISON, Wisconsin, Nov 5 – After a gruelling 18-month battle, the final US campaign day arrived on Monday for President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney, two men on a collision course for the world’s top job.
The candidates have attended hundreds of rallies, fundraisers and town halls, spent literally billions on attack ads, ground games, and get out the vote efforts, and squared off in three intense debates.
Their running mates – Vice President Joe Biden and Republican congressman Paul Ryan – have laid out the rationales for their bosses’ aspirations; First Lady Michelle Obama, Romney’s wife Ann and countless surrogates on both sides have made the case.
Monday marks the final, last-ditch attempt by incumbent and challenger to convince the narrowing sliver of undecided voters that their policies, their platforms, their approach to leading America forward are the right ones come 2013.
And with polls showing that, for the most part, each has as equal a shot at the White House as the other, Obama and Romney will engage in unvarnished efforts to mobilize their core supporters.
“I need you, Ohio,” Obama admitted to a 20,000-strong crowd in Cincinnati, in a state for which both candidates are fighting tooth and nail.
“And if you’re willing to work with me, and knock on some doors with me, if you’re willing to early vote for me, make some phone calls for me, turn out for me, we’ll win Ohio. We will win this election,” the president said.
Both candidates campaigned deep into the night on Sunday, with Romney too imploring his supporters to get out the vote in the handful of battleground states where the next occupant of the White House will be decided.
“We’ve got a little work to do in the coming days… which is to make sure we have a win on Tuesday night,” the Republican nominee said at a night rally in Newport News, Virginia.
The final dash underlined the tightness of a race that is drawing to a close with the rival candidates and their aides confidently predicting victory after months of campaigning and conflicting fortunes in opinion polls.
As the clock ticked down to Tuesday’s vote, Romney’s efforts included a surprise foray into Pennsylvania, a Democratic-leaning state that Republican strategists say is breaking his way.
“We’re taking back the White House because we’re going to win Pennsylvania,” Romney told a crowd of up to 30,000, according to US Secret Service estimates quoted by the campaign, who had gathered on a farm in frigid weather.
Obama advisers dismissed the trip as a sign of desperation from the challenger less than 48 hours from election day.