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POLITICS: White House

Obama, Romney seek to close deal as campaign ends

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Photo - President Barack Obama (left) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Getty Images)
President Barack Obama (left) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Getty Images)
Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Campaign 2012,Politics Digest

CLEVELAND -- President Obama and Mitt Romney sought to close the deal with voters Sunday, with Obama insisting that economic progress was made during his first term even while his Republican rival charged that a change in America's fortunes required a change in the White House.

"Talk is cheap; a record is real," Romney told voters here in Ohio, a state he almost certainly must win if he's going to dethrone Obama. "Change is not measured in words and speeches. Change is measured in achievements."

Romney and Obama are wrapping up the most expensive political race in U.S. history, focusing on Ohio, Virginia and a handful of other battleground states that will decide Tuesday's election. And two new polls -- one by USA Today/Gallup and the other by Politico/George Washington University -- show them virtually deadlocked.

But even as Romney seized on the message of change that was Obama's clarion call four years ago, the president was blitzing battleground states Sunday with former President Clinton at his side, arguing the nation progressed during his first term and that reverting back to Republican policies would erase those gains.

"We know our ideas work," Obama told 14,000 supporters in Concord, N.H. "We tried them and they worked for middle-class families. [Republicans] tried giving big tax cuts to the wealthiest ... And what did we get? Falling incomes and record deficits that we've been cleaning up ever since."

As the candidates made an eleventh-hour push on the campaign trail, their camps were working to mobilize their voters on Tuesday.

Romney aides said they expect the electorate, disillusioned with the past four years, to resemble 2004 more than 2008 -- that is, it will be largely white, male and lean conservative. Obama's campaign, meanwhile, is trying to reignite the enthusiasm his historic campaign created four years ago, when turnout among minority and young voters, in particular, reached record levels.

While Obama shook up the electoral map four years ago by winning traditionally Republican states, it is Romney who is trying to flip Democratic areas this time. The former Massachusetts governor flew Sunday to the suburbs of Philadelphia in the heart of traditionally Democratic Pennsylvania, with his aides claiming that his support there is on the rise.

"It's a remarkable juxtaposition here that Mitt Romney will be in the suburbs of Philadelphia today, and, you know, four years ago, Barack Obama was in Indiana," Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie said on ABC's "This Week."

The Obama campaign countered that Romney was grasping at straws, trying to make up for ground he lost in crucial Midwest battlegrounds.

"This is a desperate ploy at the end of a campaign," said Obama senior adviser David Plouffe.

Romney would need to win two out of three independents to carry Pennsylvania, Plouffe said. "He's not going to do that anywhere, much less Pennsylvania."

Romney will travel to Florida, Virginia and Ohio Monday before making his final campaign appearance in Manchester, N.H.

Obama will fly to Ohio and Wisconsin, a traditionally Democratic state in which Republicans are energized and organized under conservative Gov. Scott Walker. The president will close out his last political campaign in Iowa, a state that helped set him on course for the White House four year ago.

bhughes@washingtonexaminer.com

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